We had never heard of Australian Cattle Dogs until a neighbor gave us a
puppy nearly thirteen years ago. We were so happy with Magdi, we got another one, Chloe, who is now six years old. This breed is one of the newest in existence. As you might guess, they originated in Australia and have wild dingo, Welsh heeler, Australian kelpie, Dalmatian, smooth collie, and bull terrier in their bloodlines. The breed standard was finally set and approved in 1903. That means they will breed true both physically and temperamentally, which is what makes a breed a breed.
What exactly are they bred to do? Herd cattle, of course. They do this by nipping at the cattle’s heels, and thus their other name, heelers. As the breed was being developed this caused a few problems. Some mixes made dogs that did not just nip, but bit down and wouldn’t let go. Others nipped, but then just stood there and had their heads kicked in by the cattle’s hooves. Finally they got the combination that produced a dog smart enough to nip and duck!
Our dogs do their best to herd, in spite of the fact that we have no cows. Magdi started trying to herd the two of us when she was just a few months old. As we walked around the property, she would cut across in front of us trying to turn us in the direction she wanted us to go. We had to be careful not to trip over her. Then whenever we stood still she would lie across our feet so we couldn’t go anywhere. Chloe tries to herd Magdi. She nips at her heels all the time until Magdi gets her fill of it and snaps at her. The two of them chase any vehicle that comes down the drive, nipping at its “heels,” the back tires. And together they try to herd squirrels. Whenever a squirrel runs up a tree, they are truly mystified—this is not the way it is supposed to work.
You know what we are “born and bred” to do? Worship God. He has set
eternity in our hearts, Eccl 3:11; he has made his existence obvious through his creation, Psalm 19, Rom 1:19,20. As the writer of Ecclesiastes concluded, Fear God and keep his commandments for this is the whole of man, 12:13. The fact that people ignore all this and refuse to worship just shows that they are blind, rebellious fools according to Jeremiah 5:21-29.
Australian cattle dogs are not house dogs. They are not even yard dogs in today’s version of a backyard that takes about fifteen minutes to mow. These animals need to run. They need property and owners who exercise them more than a walk in the park every day. They are bred for prolonged activity daily. They are also bred to be fiercely loyal to and protective of their masters for life—they cannot be adopted by a new family once they have reached adulthood. Their loyalty will always be to their first family. If you take away their place to run and the masters they love, they will be miserable.
Have you noticed how miserable people seem today? Have you seen the perpetual anger that shows itself in road rage, domestic violence, and even the verbal abuse of waitresses and clerks in restaurants and stores? Have you seen how crime is not only growing but blamed on anyone and everyone who had anything to do with the criminal? People are not doing what they were “born and bred” to do—serve God and each other. Haven’t we seen enough insanely wealthy people satisfying their every desire who are still
miserable? When will we ever catch on?
They say that an Australian cattle dog is one of the most intelligent breeds there is, “capable of making decisions regarding himself, his owner and
family, his job, and his home territory,” according to the American Kennel
Club. Sounds to me like they might be smarter than most humans.
But ask now the beasts and they shall teach you; and the birds of the heavens, and they shall tell you; or speak to the earth, and it shall teach you; and the fishes of the sea shall declare unto you. Who among all these does not know that the hand of the Lord has done this? In his hand is the life of every living thing and the breath of all mankind, Job 12:7-10.