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Pincie Creek Australian Shepherds

WTCH Hangin' Tree Blue Bear
CD RD RTDsc PATDsc CGC

We purchased Blue Bear from Gary Ericsson when Bear was about five months old. Gary had chosen Bear for himself and planned to keep him, but when we explained that we needed a really good dog to help us on our farm, he agreed to let us have him. We had no idea that the little blue dog would change our lives like he has.

From the very day he arrived, it was evident that Bear was "different". We picked him up at the airport one January night and put his crate in the back of the pickup. As soon as we were out of sight, inside the pickup, Bear immediately started barking and howling like crazy. We looked through the rear window of the pickup and could see two crystal blue eyes peeking at us through the air vents in the crate, trying to see us better. We stopped, turned the crate around so that he could see us, and never heard another sound out of him. But every time we looked, those bright eyes were glued to the pickup window, looking for us. As long as he could see us, he was okay.

Bear was never silly; never really acted like most pups do. He has always been very intelligent and sensible; very mature mentally for his age; always serious minded and all business; like he knew he was here for a purpose and had a job to do, and wanted to get on with it. He would stare at us so intently with those blue eyes, it was almost scary. But one look in Bear's eyes and there was no doubt that "his lights were on and there was somebody home". His brain was always working and he had it all together. He bonded immediately and strongly to Roger and still is really Roger's dog. He will listen to Elaine to a certain extent and will work for her sometimes, in a pinch, but never really does his best. As far as working for anyone else, forget it. Roger's his master and that's the end of it. He likes to be petted by other family members and friends, but takes commands only from Roger.

At the age of ten months, we could send him over 1/4 mile out in our pasture, out of hearing and sight range, and he would gather and bring our thirteen young Hereford heifers up for us to count. Being a "kid", he was very enthusiastic and sometimes, after bringing them up to be counted, he would take them back to the far side of the pasture, then bring them back again, over and over, just for practice (and much to our aggravation) but bring them he did!! When he was fifteen months old, we attended our very first A.S.C.A. show and working trial. After participating in the clinic the day before the trial, we decided to enter Bear in the started cattle division. So, the first stockdog trial Roger and Bear ever saw, they trialed in, and Bear qualified his first time out - and we were hooked on trialing. In fact, the first seven times we entered Bear he qualified every time. He finished all his started titles (cattle, sheep, and ducks) at one trial and completed the requirements for Working Trial Champion in February of 1994, finishing in style with a 112 in Advanced Ducks under Judge Preston Kissman, which was also High in Trial. In May he earned his Ranch Trial Dog titles in sheep and cattle with scores of 92 and 91 out of a possible 100, and also passed the Ranch Dog certification requirements. He was one of the two first Aussies to earn the PATD titles. He is the most easily trained dog we have ever owned. After you go over something a few times with him, you have to be careful or he will begin to anticipate and do things before you tell him to!! Proving that he is indeed a versatile Aussie, he won back to back Most Versatile Aussie awards at the Greater Atlanta Australian Shepherd Club show in June, and again at the Georgia Jubilee show in October, 1993. He also completed requirements for his CD and has passed the requirements of the A.K.C. Canine Good Citizen Dog test. There is no limit to what he can do; he's limited only by his handlers (us -- he knows more than we do).

Bear's personality is unbeatable. He used to be a little reserved toward strangers but after all the traveling he's done, he now loves everybody and begs for attention. He is not aggressive toward people or other dogs; in fact, he will avoid a fight if at all possible; but will not hesitate to defend himself if cornered. Bear is a natural comedian - he does the funniest things and keeps us laughing all the time. For instance, he likes to sit and stare at the tv (he really watches) and crunch on popcorn, one piece at a time. He always has an alert, intelligent, innocent look on his face, as if to say, "What's going on? What's all the excitement about? Me? No, I didn't do it." He always wants to be in the middle of the action, and his favorite things are (1) First and foremost - working; (2) Working; (3) Riding with Roger anywhere in the pickup; (4) Playing fetch with a tennis ball, stick, or whatever.

As a worker, Bear is indispensable. We truly don't know what we would do without him. He is extraordinary - we have goats, sheep, and cattle, sometimes running together, and he knows by voice command which stock we want to work or separate from the others. He also works ducks, turkeys, guineas, chickens, and anything else that needs working. He is loaded with natural instinct and ability; reads his stock incredibly well, has good eye, and power to spare. He has a good outrun and a very strong gather and fetch, but also drives and balances himself well. He hits heads and heels equally well (but only when necessary), and can stand up to the toughest cow but is also very gentle with young stock - he uses his shoulders and muzzle to move them instead of nipping. Bear works with minimal barking; he is excellent in close places and sticky situations where exceptional control is necessary. We also use him for sorting and chute work - he will hold stock to be sorted, and also keep them in the chute and push them up, one at a time, to the head catch. No job is too hard for Bear. We have sent him into bogs, swamps, woods, and other places we couldn't even get in to bring out stock, and he has always brought them out.

For example, one summer he saved Elaine's prize Shorthorn bull from drowning. The bull had gotten out into the neighbor's pasture, where there was a hog lagoon. When Bear and Roger went to get him, the bull decided to jump into the lagoon. When he did, his hind legs caught on a clump of cattails and his front end went down into about six feet of mud, water, and slime. With his back feet hung and his front feet in water, he couldn't swim, nor pull himself out or up, and we were in a fix -- the bull's head was already going under and up, with him blowing water every time, and there wasn't time to go to the barn for a chain to pull him out with. We thought sure we were going to lose a bull. Then that little blue dog, without waiting for anyone to tell him anything, sailed off into that nasty mess and, swimming, hit the bull on the nose several times until he made him mad enough to try to charge Bear, and when he did, the bull's hind feet came loose and he was able to swim out. There is no doubt that if it hadn't been for Bear, the bull would have drowned.

Another summer during a dry spell we had four or five cows that crossed the shallow end of our pond while the water was down and got into the neighbor's pasture. When Bear and Roger went over to get them, naturally they wouldn't go back the way they came (the simple way). In fact, they didn't want to go home at all. Bear and Roger pushed them on foot as far as they could; he was trying to keep Bear out of the water because of snakes and alligators; so the cows waded out in water full of cattails and weeds, where they could hardly be seen, and stopped. The water was deep enough that it came 2/3 of the way up their backs, and they knew Roger and Bear couldn't walk out any farther to push them on to the other side, so they just stopped and turned around and looked at them as if to say "Okay, now make us move." Roger told Bear to "Take 'em home, figure it out yourself, some way" because he couldn't walk out any farther to push them, the water was already up to his waist; and that dog jumped from clump to clump of cattails to get out in the water as far as he could, then jumped in and, swimming, started barking and hitting heads to get the cows moving. Then he swam back to the last one (the brush was so thick the cows were moving single file) and grabbed ahold of her tail. By this time the water was so deep the cows had started swimming, and Bear somehow knew that the cow couldn't kick while she was swimming, and he held on to that cow's tail so she would keep moving, and let her pull him through the water until she reached the other side of the pond and our pasture. As soon as her feet touched ground, Bear turned loose of the tail and swam to the side so he couldn't get kicked, then took them on home. We had a real good laugh at that dog hitching a free ride across the pond from that cow! Just wish we'd had a camera.

Then not long after that, Roger sent Bear to bring the sheep in and one of them decided to dive off into the pond; Bear dove in right behind her, took hold of her wool, and, swimming all the while, managed to pull her back to the shore. Roger was quite a distance away when the sheep dove in and if Bear hadn't been there and taken action on his own, the sheep probably would have drowned.

Many times, we have had sheep or goats bunched and sulled in a corner and sent Bear in to get them out. He would try the traditional way first, and if that didn't work, we have seen him jump up and walk on their backs to get to the inside of the corner, then force his way down amongst them and push them out. We have also seen him take hold of wool (never breaking the skin, just the wool) and actually pull sheep out of a corner, or drag them to where they should go when they would sull up on him, lay down, and refuse to move. He has never mauled stock nor caused one single injury, but has always been able to move them, stop them, or accomplish whatever needed to be done.

He also has a super nose - many times he has tracked stock that got out. Roger can tell him "Go find 'em" and he will put his nose to the ground, find their trail, and disappear into the woods. In a little while, we may hear him bark a couple of times, as if to let us know he has found them. Sometimes, we just hear the stock coming. Out of the woods and brush they will come, with Bear bringing up the rear. He has never failed to find whatever we send him after. He also has never quit, even under the worst possible conditions, when he was covered in slimy, smelly mud, the temperature was over 100, and the humidity over 90%. Bear is consistent - he doesn't have one good day and one "off" day, like some dogs, he gives 100% of himself every time he goes out to work. And he would work 24 hours a day, 7 days a week if we would let him - he never gets enough. In 1999 we retired Bear both from the trial arena and the hard work here on the farm. He's earned the rest and thoroughly enjoys being a couch potato. But he's not happy if he doesn't get to work sometimes, so we give him "light duty" and save the rough stuff for the younger kids. He still travels with us everywhere we go and will just as long as he's able, continuing to be an outstanding ambassador for our breed.

Bear is so eager to please it will touch your heart to watch him work. We can't say enough good things about him - he is one in a million - our friend, companion, and top hand.

Copyright 2000 by Elaine C. Stevens   

HOF Sire WTCH Hangin' Tree Black Bear RDx - Photo courtesy of Owners, Gary and Mary Hawley


 

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Ericsson's Sussie
Ericsson's Sally Ericsson's Cowboy
Ericsson's Muffin
HOF Dam Zephyr's Angel Blue HOF Sire WTCH Las Rocosa Merlin Hart, CD RDX ATDh HOF Sire Las Rocosa Sydney
Las Rocosa Lillie
Zephyr's Midnight Blue WTCH Zephyr's Crimson King RDX
LJ's Blue Carrie
HOF Dam Hangin' Tree Cinnamon Teal OTD

Hangin' Tree Huckleberry HOF Sire WTCH Hangin' Tree Red Zephyr RDX WTCH Las Rocosa Charlie Glass CD RDX
Las Rocosa Chalcedony
Hangin' Tree Blue Lady RDX HOF Sire WTCH Hangin' Tree Red Zephyr RDX
HOF Dam Zephyr's Angel Blue
Hangin'   Tree Lass HOF Sire WTCH Hangin' Tree Red Zephyr RDX WTCH Las Rocosa Charlie Glass CD RDX
Las Rocosa Chalcedony
HOF Dam Zephyr's Angel Blue HOF Sire WTCH Las Rocosa Merlin Hart CD RDX ATDh
Zephyr's Midnight Blue

Click here for more photos of Bear

 
 

~~ Inquiries Welcomed ~~
Roger & Kathy Stevens
175 Fortson Road
Dothan, Alabama  36305
Phone 334-692-3883 (call after 7:30 p.m. CST)
or email us at pinciecreek@centurytel.net

      

     
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