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Pincie Creek Australian Shepherds

About our breed

About our breed

(as told to Elaine Stevens)
@ 1998 by Mindy Curtis
P. O. Box 563
Vail, AZ 85641
email
mincurtis@aol.com

This is the story of an extraordinary Australian Shepherd, "Dixie", who, during the short time she was with us, touched our hearts and our lives in unbelievable ways, and left us with many fond memories of what a true cowdog and companion should be.

Kevin and I had been ranching for quite a while and had decided that we badly needed a dog to help us. In fact, we had acquired more than one Australian Shepherd, but had not been able to find one who had both the personality to fit into our busy family, and also the ability to help us with our daily chores.

The Dixie that came to us was not the Dixie we were supposed to get. Roger and Elaine Stevens had chosen Dixie as the pick of the females resulting from a cross between their Blue Bear and Sally, and had planned to keep her. But at the last minute, they decided they wanted us to have the very best pup they had, so they sent Dixie.

Dixie arrived in September of 1994, a little blue merle package of fun, talent, and boundless energy. She came off the airplane ready to go and we knew right away that the old saying "Dynamite comes in small packages" was true. We named her Dixie Bear of Pincie Creek, because she came from the Deep South, and for her sire. At the time Dixie arrived we were in Rush, Colorado on a yearling cattle ranch. All the hands knew that we were supposed to be getting a cow dog, and they were eagerly anticipating her arrival. Iíll never forget, there was one seasoned, grizzled, tough as nails old cowhand named Don Craven. Having seen a lot of dogs that were supposed to be cowdogs but were not, he was not easily impressed by dogs. He came to the house to see Dixie, watched her for a while, then solemnly announced, "Well, NOW youíve got yourself a cowdog." And walked out the door without another word.

He was right. When Dixie was just a few months old she was already helping move the yearlings from one pasture to another. One day about fifty head of yearlings had gone through the fence into a lush clover pasture. Two hands on horseback had been trying for a couple of hours to take them through the gate, back where they belonged, but without success. They could barely get a couple of yearlings through, and as soon as some of the hands left to go get the rest of the cattle, the ones that had gone through the gate broke and ran back out to join their comrades. About that time Kevin happened to come along with Dixie. He watched the cowboys trying unsuccessfully to pen the cattle, and one of them rather sarcastically suggested, "Why donít you take your dog and put them in?" So Kevin did, and within twenty minutes the yearlings were where they were supposed to be. Dixie was amazing - full of presence, even at this young age, with very little bark. She didnít need to bark - she was so authoritative that the stock moved off her immediately - they knew she meant business!! The only time she barked was when she needed us to hurry up - we werenít keeping up with her working ability - or something very much out of the ordinary was happening. During our time in Rush she was exposed to ducks, sheep, goats, yearlings, and heifers during calving season. Dixie was extremely versatile and could switch back and forth between the different types of stock with no problem. She even worked FROGS - we have a tape to prove it!!

While at Rush we were fortunate (?) enough to own a few goats. We had a white one, a black one, and a brown one. How she knew which one was which we will never understand, but we could tell Dixie, "Go get the white goat!" and she would bring the white one. Next the black one, and so on ... she knew each one by its color and never failed to bring the right goat.

Although Dixie was loyal to the whole family, she was Kevinís dog and there was no doubt about it. She bonded to him and even though she tolerated me, Dixie was Kevinís sweetheart. (Photo right -- Dixie giving her beloved Kevin a kiss.) She idolized him, was devoted to him, never left his side, went everywhere he went, hung on his every word and movement. She was great with our two children, Amanda and Randy, and slept with Randy every night. We have pictures of Dixie riding the kidsí rocking horse. (See above photo.)

The only time Dixie paid me any attention was when it was to her advantage and she could coerce me into getting something she wanted. Any other time, the only voice she heard was Kevinís. When and if Kevin told her to "Go help Mom" she would, but Iím sure from her expression that she was cursing Kevin for sending her to me. When Dixie was helping me move cattle she would find, gather up, and move a group towards me and my horse. Then she would run to me, bark once, spin in a circle, and run back to HER herd that SHE HAD SENT down toward the ranch headquarters, where we were headed. In the event she didnít think I was moving quickly enough, she would motivate me to hurry up by running between me and the herd, making sure I didnít lose them!! People who say animals canít talk didnít know Dixie. She made it very clear to me that those were HER cattle, that SHE was in control, that SHE knew shat SHE was doing, and that I was just sort of along for the ride.

I must admit that in the beginning it was a little hard for me to really like a dog that plainly thought I was not important in her life. I had really hoped that our new dog would bond with me and be my "best buddy". But when I saw how devoted she was to Kevin and also to my children, and how much help she was, I could not help loving her.

Dixie was, first and foremost, a COWDOG. She could be a pet, usually only to kids, which she loved dearly, and on occasion to me and Kevin. But if there was work to be done - donít bother her - stand aside and WATCH OUT!! The work WOULD BE DONE!!.

In August of 1995 we decided to move to another ranch at Nucla, Colorado and of course, Dixie made the move with us. The terrain was different - we went from plains to rough mountain country - and also the operation was different - now we were working a cow/calf operation. Kevin would send Dixie out into the brush after cattle and she would find strays and bring them back to the herd Kevin had already gathered. Then Kevin would send her out again and off she would go -- seeking, gathering, and moving cows and calves off the mountain. Then she and Kevin would drive the herd down to the camp.

About two weeks after we moved the first cattle drive was held, driving cattle down from the mountains. Kevin left for the cow camp which was full of brush and just yucky country to have to look for and drive cows in. The other cowboys whipped out their bullwhips and began to pop them in the brush so they could locate the cows that were hiding. Dixie had never seen nor heard a bullwhip, and she immediately took off for high country. The brush was so thick that you could almost lose your horse out from under you in it, so a scared young pup that was running and hiding was going to be virtually impossible to find. Kevin panicked. His partner was gone. But priorities are priorities, and Kevin had bulls to move and couldnít quit until he was done, Dixie or no Dixie. Several hours later Kevin finished up and returned to camp to search for Dixie. She was not at the camp, so he took the truck and went out again, looking and calling. No sign of Dixie. Kevin was heartbroken, and returned sadly to camp. When he arrived, the cook told Kevin his dog had come back, said she tracked the horses into camp and came walking in. Not only that, but found our geldings in the corral, and laid down by them, refusing to respond to anyoneís command - even to get a drink of water or be petted - until Kevin returned to camp. This young pup had found her way back over several miles of unfamiliar mountain trails by following her horsesí trail!!

That same week she took on her first set of bulls that were fighting. She did an awesome job of separating them, considering that she was only 14 months old. She never quit, no matter how tired she was or hard the job was. She had grit that was unbelievable. After only two weeks on the new job, she had a reputation and was being bragged about in all the bunkhouses and around the campfires.

Dixieís first encounter with a bear came that summer. We were at the "cow camp" staying in a cabin. One night we heard Dixie barking, which was unusual. After investigating we found that she had found a brown bear cub. We think he got separated from his mama. The cub was trying to approach the cabin and Dixie was determined that he wasnít coming near the cabin and her family. What a dog!!

Her second encounter with bears came during hunting season on Coloradoís western slope. Somehow three young bears had joined up with the herd and were running and traveling with it. They were with the cows, smelled like cows from running with them, and were fuzzy like cows...so... Kevin sent Dixie out to gather the herd and then heard her barking - very unlike Dixie - and waited to see what was going on. Almost instantly cows and calves start bursting through the brush toward the clearing where Kevin is sitting horseback. He heard Dixie barking again and encouraged her to "Bring Ďití on out." "It" turned out to be three bears with Dixie following, herding them right to Kevin!! Kevin yelled, "Down, Dix - Donít bring them!! Donít bring them!!". All ended well - after Dixie downed the three bears broke off from the herd and ran into the brush, looking for Goldilocks, Iím sure!!

We finally convinced Dixie that she didnít need to herd the elk and the deer on the mountain in with the cow herd and bring them to camp. She thought anything with four legs that could move should be brought in...whatever it was. The clown -- she just tried tooooo hard!!

Kevin and I knew that we had an extraordinary dog. She had unbelievable natural instinct, because all these wonderful things she did, she did on her own!! Kevin and I were complete novices and had no idea how to even begin training a dog. Dixie was a natural. Aware of her talent, we decided we would like to compete in some ASCA stockdog trials, but first we had to learn what we were doing. So in June of 1996 we attended a stockdog clinic. The instructor was a die hard border collie person whose first comment to us was, "Now I will show you the benefit of a Border Collie over the so called cow dog...an Aussie." There was a course set up, border collie style. Others had their turn and were not successful. The instructor asked Kevin, in a sarcastic tone, if he wanted to take his dog and try. Kevin said, "Sure." Well, by using just everyday "ranch" commands and signals, he directed Dixie (who had never worked in an arena before) and they successfully completed the course is a very short time period of time!!

By this time Dixie had quite a reputation and was famous for miles around. One day, I left to go to town. Kevin was still at the house and right after I left he let Dixie out for her morning run. On the long road from our house to civilization I saw a strange pickup truck headed toward our place. I thought it was odd, but then I thought maybe someone was going to see Kevin, or maybe they were lost. I should have turned around and gone back home but I didnít. About thirty minutes after he had let her out, Kevin went to the door to let Dixie in. She was not there. He called but she did not respond. Kevin knew immediately that something was wrong. She would not have left voluntarily; we are certain of that. We looked for weeks, advertised, rode around looking, did everything we could to find our dog. We were heartbroken. We never saw Dixie alive again. However, some time later an acquaintance delivered some decomposed remains to us in a burlap bag, saying he thought heíd found our dog in a dump. We could not positively identify the remains but the collar was Dixieís. Cute, funny, incredible little Dixie, who was not even two years old and had her whole career ahead of her. We believe she was murdered by someone with a vicious, crooked mind who was jealous. We cannot even begin to understand why or how someone could do this to a dog who had never harmed anyone, so we try not to think about it. Dixie is gone, and nothing can bring her back.

There are those who say that the dogs of the past are really not as good as we remember them being, and that their feats grow with time and every time the tales are repeated. Not so with Dixie. She was every bit as good as Iíve written, and more. I do not have the words nor the ability to fully describe her. She was a one in a million dog, and Kevin and I know that if we bought a thousand more dogs in our lifetime, there will never be another Dixie. It was an honor and a blessing for us to have owned her for the short time we did. She was small in stature, but huge in heart. She taught us the meaning of devotion and what a true cowdog is supposed to be. The void she left in our hearts will never be filled, and we will never, ever forget her.

HOF Sire WTCH Hangin' Tree Blue Bear CD RD RTDsc PATDsc CGC HOF Sire WTCH Hangin' Tree Black Bear RD RTDsc PATDsc Hangin' Tree Buddy Ericsson's Vacquero
Ericsson's Cowgirl
HOF Dam Zephyr's Angel Blue HOF Sire WTCH Las Rocosa Merlin Hart CD RDX ATDh
Zephyr's Midnight Blue
HOF Dam Hangin' Tree Cinnamon Teal OTDds STDc Hangin' Tree Huckleberry 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
HOF Dam Zephyr's Angel Blue
C-R Saleata STDsc WTCH Las Rocosa Charlie Glass CD RDX Hartnagle's Hud Taylor's Whiskey
Taylor's Buena
Las Rocosa Jacqueline Las Rocosa Sydney
Hosmer's Jill
C-R True Colors CH Manchado Mutual Gains CH Mighty Fine Dividend CD STDdc OTDs
CH Casa Buena Bonita of Manchado CD STDs OTDc
Hado-Bars Jillian Hado-Bars Rusy Nail
Hado-Bars Blazing Glory CD

 

 
 

~~ 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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