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Happy Tail: Tasha, tougher than nails

TASHA: '. . . in November she was given six weeks to live. I knew she would survive much longer and she did. One morning in August when I went out to feed the horses Tasha walked to the door and then turned and went to lay down. She died that afternoon. It was just like Tasha. She decided it was time and she did it on her own. And she loved me so much that I didn't have to make the decision when to euthanize her - she did it on her own. This is why I have fallen in love with the Australian Cattle Dog breed. They are tough dogs, intelligent, and very devoted to their owners. They're hard workers and need a job to do. They are not a dog to be living in an apartment. They LOVE the water and they HATE vacuum cleaners. They need a farm and an active life.' - PEG SCHAEFFER, Sugarfoot Farm Rescue
The next earlier Happy Tail: Greta - Hero of the Day!

By Peg Schaeffer

My first Australian Cattle Dog was not of my choosing.

I have a friend, Cindi Robinson, who raises Australian Shepherds. She came to my house one day with two Australian Cattle Dog (Blue Heeler) puppies.


She had gone to Maine to pick them up for a customer who wanted to buy one. When she got back the person had already gotten one so Cindi had two puppies to find homes for. She begged me to take one. I laughed at her. At the time the ACD's were the dog everyone who had horses owned.

Australian Cattle Dogs were were the the accessory if you owned a horse<

When I went to the Quarter Horse shows everyone had one of these dogs. They were the accessory you had if you owned a horse. I told her I didn't like the breed - they looked like rats. She practically begged me to take one. Finally we agreed that I would take one of the puppies and she would give me a discount when I decided to get an Australian Shepherd from her (I never did). So I picked out one of the pups and named her Tasha.

This breed is one of the top 10 of the intelligent dog breeds. They are tough dogs and are very loyal. Tasha was all of these. The Cattle Dogs are a herding breed and at three months of age Tasha was herding the ducks out of the water and preventing them from going back. Within no time she had graduated to the goats. It got to the point that she could guide them with her eyes. They were terrified of her and would respond to her glance. No long after that she moved up to our beef cows. If they tried to kick her she would duck and their feet would go over her head. She would then nip at their heels. If she got kicked it would just make her mad and she would be more careful the next time. Bulls weighing over half a ton would rather jump into the trailer than deal with Tasha's sharp bites.

In her minds eye she was bigger than any foe<

Although Tasha weighed less than 30 pounds she was a stocky dog and in her mind's eye she was bigger than anything she came up against. She loved me more than my own mother did and there was no doubt in my mind that she would do anything for me.

I took her everywhere and was never afraid to be alone. She would sit on the front seat of the truck and dare anyone to stick their hand in the window. I would go into the store and leave her in the truck with the window down, my pocketbook on the seat, and the keys in the ignition - daring anyone to try to steal them. At the time I traveled up and down the coast with the horses and Tasha went with me. I never worried about my safety.

She became known as 'the dog from Hell'<

My friends called her "the dog from Hell". She was loyal to only me. As long as no one tried to touch her she would just ignore them, but if they thought for a moment they would pet her she would let them know in no uncertain terms that she was not their friend.

When Keith and I first started dating people asked him how he and Tasha were getting along. His answer "not bad - at first she bit me once a day but now it's only once a week."

As Tasha aged she never mellowed. She stayed tough as nails and devoted to me. She never left my side. She would always be with me. One of her favorite jobs was to shake out the horses hay for me. It was a game. I would throw a flake of hay into the horse's stall. Before it hit the ground Tasha would catch it and shake it furiously. We never tired of the game. She could drag a bale of hay across the barn floor easily.

Keith called: Tasha had had a stroke, he thought

While I was at work one day Keith called me to say he thought Tasha had had a stroke. I raced home. Sure enough she was having problems with the right side of her body. I took her to our vet. He examined her but doubted she had had a stroke. She didn't improve so I took her to another vet and another. I ended up taking her to a veterinary hospital in Massachusetts. They performed several tests on her and she was diagnosed with a disease with a LONG name, also known as GME.

It was a fatal disease with no cure. They told me she would probably only live another six weeks. Then they asked me if I wanted to euthanize her. Knowing Tasha I knew she would outlast their diagnosis. This was in November. Tasha fought the disease. Even though the right side of her body was paralyzed she would still help me when I fed the horses. She figured out how to throw her body against the wall when she went down steps to support herself. I needed to lift her into the truck but she still went everywhere with me. She never weakened. Sometimes she would sleep for two or three days and then she would snap out of it and almost be the usual Tasha. I had talked to the equine veterinarian who came to the farm and he and I made arrangements that when the time came for Tasha to be euthanized he would come to the farm so she didn't have to die in a clinic and could be at home.

In November, Tasha was given six months to live

In November she was given six weeks to live. I knew she would survive much longer and she did. One morning in August when I went out to feed the horses Tasha walked to the door and then turned and went to lay down. She died that afternoon. It was just like Tasha. She decided it was time and she did it on her own. And she loved me so much that I didn't have to make the decision when to euthanize her - she did it on her own.

This is why I have fallen in love with the Australian Cattle Dog breed. They are tough dogs, intelligent, and very devoted to their owners. They're hard workers and need a job to do. They are not a dog to be living in an apartment. They LOVE the water and they HATE vacuum cleaners. They need a farm and an active life.

Blue Heelers are always hard at work, intelligent

I have gone to stockyards and seen the Blue Heelers hard at work and loving it. The Amish use them on their farms. They were originally bred in Australia and were Dingo and Collie. They then bred them with Dalmatians because they were good with the horses. Because of their Dalmatian breeding ACD's are born white and sometimes are deaf.

They need supervision with young children because they will nip at their heels to herd them, not because they are mean. If anything they will defend their family to the end.

Last week someone found a litter of 5 Australian Cattle dog mixes on the side of the road in the freezing weather. They brought them here in the back of a trailer. They have been spayed/neutered, wormed, vaccinated, and have had their rabies shots and are ready for a home. Come and meet them and I'm sure you'll fall in love with the ACD's like I have. They are remarkable dogs.
Peg Schaeffer, Sugarfoot Farm Rescue, 860 Sparksville Road, Columbia, KY 42728 Telephone: home 270-378-4521 or cell 270-634-4675 email: sugarfootfarmrescue@yahoo.com


This story was posted on 2014-02-02 07:36:12
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Happy Tail: Tasha, tougher than nails



2014-02-02 - Sugarfoot Farm Rescue, 860 Sparksville Road, Columbia, KY - Photo by Peg Schaeffer. Tasha: 'Although Tasha weighed less than 30 pounds she was a stocky dog and in her mindís eye she was bigger than anything she came up against. She loved me more than my own mother did and there was no doubt in my mind that she would do anything for me.' - Peg Schaeffer
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Blue Heeler puppies at Sugarfoot Farm Rescue



2014-02-02 - Sugarfoot Farm Rescue, 860 Sparksville Road, Columbia, KY - Photo by Peg Schaeffer. The Australian Cattle Dog puppies abandoned by the side of the road. They are approximately 3 months old: From left to right: Lizzie, D.O.G. (the only male), Kendall (adopted) and Page. - Peg Schaeffer
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