A Tribute to the Australian Cattle Dog Continued.

By the turn of the century the breed had become very popular. Kaleski, at the request of interested breeders,drew up trhe standard that was published in the Agricultural Gazette of New South Wales in 1903.

This standard for the blue heeler was adopted by the original Kennel Club of New South Wales of which Kaleski was Honorary Secretary and also adopted by the Cattle and Sheep Dog Club of Australia (founded by Kaleski in 1907), and the Royal Agricultural Society of New South Wales.

In his 1903 standard,Kaleski called the dog the "Merlin" or blue heeler, but since that time the dogs name has gone through several changes.The standard, whilst basically Kaleski's has been modified slightly.

Names including "Queensland Heeler" or "Queensland Blue Heeler (as the dogs were indispensible to the stockmen in the cattle state), "Australian Blue Cattle Dog" and "Australian Heeler" were used until finally, "Australian Cattle Dog", which is its official name was adopted, although the dog is more commonly known as the "Blue Heeler".

In 1925, C.Laurence and A.A.Blakenny, drew up a new standard which was published in the "Australasian" on 28th November, that was adopted by the Cattle and Sheep Dog Club of New South Wales and agreed to by the N.S.W.Kennel Control Council.

In 1928, the N.S.W. Stock Dog Clubcompiled a standard which went into more detail about desirable measurements, which, according to old established breeders, exactly fitted the ideal specimen but this standard was never adopted by the Kennel Control Council.

Like Kaleski's, both standards stated that the blue heelers general appearance should be that of a thick-set Dingo. However, the current standard, adopted by the A.N.K.C. in January,1963, makes no mention of the Dingo.

Kaleski, using the Bagust strain until his death in 1961, was a very successful breeder and prize winner, especially at the Royal Agricultural Society's Sydney Show. With his dog "Nugget", he founded the noted "Nugget" strain of prize winners which included such champions as Clovelly Mavis and Clovelly Biddy.

By 1910 he claimed that his efforts had raised the price of a cattle dog from "five bob for the pick of the litter" to as much as ten guineas. Little wonder that owners went to so much trouble to prevent their young dogs from being stolen. Some put a marked threepenny piece under the skin of the dog's forearm. This ruse became so well known as to be useless. Kaleski used tatooing as early as 1903. Today, a good cattle dog is a prized possession and is worth hundreds of dollars.

The Australian Cattle Dog which quickly became very popular with stockmen and drovers in Queensland and New South Wales, as well as in Victoria where it was mainly used for herding dairy cattle, is the only pure breed of cattle dog in the world and is by far the best worker of cattle.

It works as silently and as tirelessly as its forebear, the Dingo. Its courage and biting power enables it to shift the most stubborn beast and send it in the right direction. It is stronger and better able to look after itself than many larger dogs and can withstand extremes of weather and terrain.

Not the least of the heelers qualities is its loyalty and devotion to its owner and its owner's possessions Suspicious by nature, it is an outstanding watch dog and stories of its watchfulness, faithfulness and heroism are legend.

The well-trained heelers worth was soon widely expressed in such appreciative truisms as," A good cattle dog is a man's living", and "A good cattle dog is worth as much as a good horse".

In addition to being a good working dog and a family pet, the heeler was found to be a good hunting companion as well. In 1925, the soldier and big game hunter, Captain Arnold Weinholt (1877-1940) of Kalbar, in Queensland, took two heelers, Pincher and Coil, to Africa where they proved themselves invaluable in tracking wounded lions into the thickest jungle.Previously, Weinholt had used dogs of an Airedale-Bull Terrier cross, but fatalities were frequent as these dogs were often tempted to mix it with the big cats. The heeler however, had enough ginger to go in and worry the lion but as they always kept behind the prey, they avoided being mauled.

The Australian Cattle Dog has its monument, though not quite on the scale that Kaleski had suggested. On a bridge near Scone, in the fertile Hunter Valley, the local shire council has erected a bronze plaque, donated by the Australian Cattle Dog Society of New South Wales, commemorating the pioneering work of Thomas Simpson Hall. The bridge, named the "Blue Heeler Bridge" was official opened on the 14th August,1976.

There is however, another very famous monument featuring the cattle dog - The Dog on the Tuckerbox - nine miles north of Gundagai. While the dog guarding his masters tuckerbox is a monument to the pioneers of the district, there is the link to the story of the Australian Cattle Dog: The sculptor, Francis Rusconi, used one of Kaleski's dogs as his model.

Author Unknown

Submitted by John Chandler

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