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Happy Tail: Gertie - 'Aggressive, No Small Children' Indeed!

The sign above the wisp of a blue merle Australian Sheep Dog sad, "Dog Aggressive. No Small Children." But that was before Mabel, later Gertie, met nine year old Gertie and immediately loved her, even if possessively so. Their's is a companionship which has endured a dozen years and, despite prolonged separations, remains as strong as ever.
The next earlier Happy Tail: Happy Tail: Lucas, the black puppy Posted February 23, 2014.

By Peg Schaeffer
Sugarfoot Farm Rescue

Hartford is the capitol of Connecticut and I worked there for several years.

It was a one hour drive one way.

When I worked for the Department of Children and Families my co-worker would often go to the Humane Society in Newington, which was a 15 minute drive, on his lunch break. He came back one day and told me about a dog he had seen.

He had seen pictures of Tasha, my Australian Cattle Dog, on my desk and said the dog at the Humane Society looked just like her. He said he felt bad for the dog that it just jumped up and down and ran in circles. I tried to put the dog out of my mind but it didn't work. On a Saturday in December while Eeyore was performing in his live nativity scene Keith and I and his niece, Sierra, decided to take a ride to the Humane Society in Newington which was a short drive away.
I asked to see the Australian Cattle Dog they had and they took me to meet her. A wisp of a Cattle Dog was in the kennel. She wasn't as muscular as most ACD's she was a pretty blue merle that looked more like a Dingo. Her kennel card said: Mabel, Female Adult Australian Cattle Dog, DOG AGGRESSIVE, NO SMALL CHILDREN.

So here chance at adoption was pretty much limited. I asked if I could see her outside the kennel. They took her to an outside run and Keith, Sierra, and I went to meet with her. She was so happy to be able to stretch her legs she hardly paid any attention to us. She didn't leap at Sierra and try to attack her - so much for NO SMALL CHILDREN. We then brought my Beagle, Beamer, in to meet her. She sniffed him but went back to enjoying her open space. So much for - DOG AGGRESSIVE.

So Mabel went home with us. On the ride back she rode in the backseat with her head on nine year old Sierra's lap the whole way. We all decided the name "Mabel" had to go and renamed her "Gertie", a good Australian name. That night she slept in bed, under the covers, with Sierra. She sure wasn't dangerous around small children.

So Gertie became our first rescue Australian Cattle Dog. She had one major fault - she loved to chase the horses and nip at their heels. She would have to be left in the house when we rode. If not she was relentless biting at them while we tried to ride.

We had a halter horse named "The New Millennium" but his nickname was "Stuart". Halter horses are often called "lead 'em and feed 'em". That's because they're built like wrestlers, all muscle, and are judged by their looks and conformation not performance. Stuart was also a "hot house flower". He only went out for short periods of time so that he wouldn't get hurt, even the slightest scratch would be faulted, and the sun would bleach his coat. His turnout was by the road and short walk from the barn.

One day after a rain storm I took Stuart out to let him exercise in the paddock. Big problem - there was a puddle before the gate and Stuart would have to get his feet wet if he walked through it. There was no way for him to get into the corral with walking into the water. He planted his feet and refused to move. Keith came to help. He pulled and pulled on Stuart's lead rope and Stuart just became more and more stubborn. No matter what we did we couldn't get him to budge. So I came up with a brilliant idea.

I told Sierra to go get Gertie and she could herd Stuart into the ring. So Sierra brought Gertie out and let her loose. Gertie looked at us with amazement as if to say "I get to chase the horse?" We didn't have to tell her twice. She quickly gave Stuart a sharp nip at his heels. Well Stuart was determined he wasn't going in the gate no matter what. So he spun around and started racing towards the barn with Keith in tow and Gertie in pursuit nipping at his heels. Keith was yelling "get the ####dog, get the #### dog". Sierra and I looked at each other and starting laughing at the sight. Our neighbors who lived across the street, heard the commotion and came out and sat on their porch watching the excitement. In the meantime Keith was being dragged across the yard by Stuart with the devil on his heels.

We finally managed to catch Gertie and save Keith from being dragged to death. And Stuart - he went back to the gate and walked calmly through the water and into the ring.

Gertie became very attached to Sierra and although Sierra only came to visit on the weekends, Gertie was her dog.

Sierra would go to horse shows with me and bring Gertie on a leash. She would stand by the ring and watch me ride. One day when I was having a lesson I asked Sierra if she'd like to ride my horse to cool her off. Of course Sierra was excited for any opportunity to ride. So she handed Gertie's leash to a friend and raced over to ride.

Gertie was cool at first and then realized, "Hey that's Sierra by the horse, so who's holding me." She turned and looked over her back and saw a stranger holding her leash. She panicked, flipped over backwards, and tried to break away. There was no way anyone but Sierra or I could hold her leash. So Sierra had to race back and grab the leash.

Gertie relaxed.

I had someone else hold the horse and I took the leash so Sierra could ride.

Now that we've moved to Kentucky we only see Sierra once a year if we're lucky.

But Gertie always remembers her friend. Sierra's all grown up now, almost 21, not the nine year old little girl anymore, and Gertie's 12 years older too but she still looks forward to her best friend coming to visit.

So much for the blue merle Australian Cattle Dog with the sign on her kennel that said "NO SMALL CHILDREN".

Peg Schaeffer, Sugarfoot Farm Rescue, 860 Sparksville Road, Columbia, KY 42728 Telephone: home 270-378-4521 or cell 270-634-4675 email:

This story was posted on 2014-03-02 11:15:46
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Happy Tail: Gertie, when young

2014-03-02 - Sugarfoot Farm Rescue, 860 Sparksville Road, Columbia, KY - Photo by Peg Schaeffer.
a few weeks after we brought her home in December, 2002. -Peg Schaeffer

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Rest - after a hard day's ride

2014-03-02 - Sugarfoot Farm Rescue, 860 Sparksville Road, Columbia, KY - Photo by Peg Schaeffer. Gertie with Sierra, age 9; and Beamer, our Beaglein December, 2002. Look at Sierra's rosy cheeks. We'd been outside most of the day working and riding horses. - Peg Schaeffer
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