A Tribute to the Australian Cattle Dog - Jack and Harry Bagust.
It was the Bagust brothers, Harry and Jack, who lived near Davis's slaughter yards, who were really responsible for developing "Halls Heelers" into what we know today.
The Bagust's noted that the heeler was deficient in three desirable traits - an affinity and fondness for horses, a guarding instinct and the capacity for working the sides and head of a mob.
Crossing them with the Dalmatian, essentially a horse and carriage dog, imparted the first two qualities. It also smoothed the coat, gave them an attractive speckled colour, and eliminated the 'wall' or white eye, prevalent in the merle. The clever head and side working ability was produced by a cross with a Black and Tan Kelpie.
These crosses however, were not without problems. The Dalmatian influence tended to bring out drop ears and thin tails, while the Kelpie cross tended to make the body colour too dark and the dogs a little too fine in the muzzle, at the expense of the strong biting jaws of the Dingo. But the Bagusts persisted and after a lot of patient work, came up with the dog they wanted. As the Bagusts said, "We bred a lot and we drowned a lot".
It should also be noted that at some stage during this process, a blue dog of the same pure Hall strain, owned by Tom Bently, a butcher at the Glebe Island abbatoirs, was crossed through the Bagust dogs. According to Kaleski, writing in 1911, all the early blue cattle dogs of any note were descended from "Bently's Dog", a great worker of fine proportions and appearance.