And then there was Levi!

10:39 PM Posted by rockrunner

My passion for queensland heelers only grew from my experience with Kizzy. Kizzy was the seed that was planted and over the duration of many years my passion grew to the size of a redwood. The problem was college and the occasional migratory patterns not-uncommon for an unambitious 22 year old made having a dog impossible. When I reached the ripe old age of 23, like all grown up and mature males, I moved out of my moms house and into my dads house.

With the newly discovered freedom of a new house to pillage and plunder, I decided to sell my boa constrictors and get a Blue Heeler. After a rugged 5 minute search in the pet section of the classifieds, I found a gentleman in South Sacramento that had several puppies that were only about 4 weeks old. They had the puppies tested and pointed out the pick of the litter who would be worth $165. The others were $135. Having the sudden urge to have the best, I put a deposit on the pick and said I would be back in 4 weeks to pick up my little monster.

After the four weeks were up I headed back to get my new sidekick. I got in the backyard and the little pal I had picked out, was oblivious to my existence. However, there was another puppy there who ran to me and followed me around curiously. My new found friend who was not the pick of the litter they had named "flipper". I immediately took a liking to little flipper paid the rest of the money and switched his name to Levi. Levi then proceeded to vomit on me.

I had Levi for three days when I had to travel to Utah to DJ a desert party. I decided to take Levi with me and drive out. The hotel we were booked in didn't allow dogs so I had to put him in a duffle bag and sneak him up the back steps. When we were at the party Levi earned his first claim to fame when Aaron Carter the dj and mastermind for the group Cirrus took an immediate liking to him. Aaron proceeded to bond with him and spent the majority of the evening walking him.

Levi was not a typical dog, he didn't like to get in water and fetch was fun as long as you didn't expect him to bring back the ball. He thought it was great but lost interest as soon as the ball stopped rolling. Add to his lack of desire to play fetch the fact that he detested water, and there was nothing normal about him.
Over the course of 13 years Levi went on many adventures with me. Whether we were backpacking in the high uintahs or canyoneering in the San Rafael Swell. Levi was always enthusiastic and loved to go on adventures. Age took its toll early on Levi and by his 11th year he struggled to complete our regular yearly trip that was only a mile. It broke my heart when I had to pack for trips and Levi would get excited and I couldn't take him. I would grab the backpack and put it in the living room and Levi would sit by it patiently waiting for me to put his backpack on.

Finally on February 6th 2010, I had to make the decision to have Levi put to sleep. I remember sitting on the floor in the vets office and holding him in my arms. The vet gave him a shot and he tensed and tried to run away. I held him tighter and then his body went limp. Not a day goes by that I don't think of my grey little buddy.

Mannerisms and Temperment.

11:21 AM Posted by rockrunner

One of the biggest problems with a blue heeler or red heeler is, people. It isn't that the dogs don't like people, it is that people mis-read the dogs or that people don't want to take responsibility for our actions. Combine that with ignorant mail carriers, paper boys, and judges and sometimes your dog just won't stand a chance.

As I mentioned in the previous blog entry, blue heelers or red heelers received their name from the fact that they nip at the heels of cattle, sheep, ducks to get them to move. This becomes a problem with people because people don't like being herded. Instead of being resourceful or trying to help the dog is classified as aggressive. Most people don't take time to make the connection that the dog was close enough to put its jowls on you but didn't break skin. If a dog is truly aggressive and can get that close to you, you would know it.

When you choose to get one of these dogs or if you are interested in getting one of these dogs, that is one thing you need to be aware of. Heelers, will "heel", this behavior although harmless, really needs to be controlled and corrected early. It is easier to correct your dogs behavior than the ignorance of others.

Queensland heelers are very, very protective dogs. I wouldn't have a problem leaving a million dollars in plain site, in my house, in the worlds worst neighborhood, with my heeler present. People won't get anywhere near your house without the dog alerting everyone within a three mile radius that there is someone out front. These dogs will protect life and property with the best of them.

Many people have stated that the Heeler isn't a very good dog for families or small children. This is a pretty big generalization that should probably be ignored at worst or taken on a case by case basis. Kizzy was the absolute best with children, my dog Levi and my mothers dog Komet, are great with kids. Sasha on the other hand doesn't like children and will choose to hide or seek shelter with the closest adult. If children still press her she will growl but has never ever snapped at a child.

Don't let any of these things deter you from a cattle dog, they are still the most amazing and loyal companions you can have.

The Blue Heeler that started it all.

8:05 PM Posted by rockrunner

I was 12 or something like that and our family moved from a house in Salt Lake to a house in Provo. My next door neighbors were actually my aunt, uncle and of course cousins. My cousin Troy is the one that owned the dog that started my love affair with the cattle dog. Well actually it was his dog Kizzy. Kizzy was a female blue heeler and she was amazing.

We lived next to a park, and a big hill. On top of the hill was an elementary school. The children would walk through the neighborhood, into the park, and up the hill to get to school everyday. As a true herding dog, Kizzy would follow one group up to the schoolyard, turn around and run back to find another group. She would do this all morning, until the children stopped coming. At this point she would wait at the school until that magical time when the children would reverse their routes. On more than one occasion the principal would call my cousin and let them know that Kizzy was hanging out at the school and they would appreciate it if he would come pick her up. I don't understand the principals logic because Kizzy never hurt a fly, except for one time, another dog.

Directly across the street from us, the neighbors had a large dog about 3 times the size of Kizzy. The paper boy, who one could argue, was not the brightest crayon in the box would throw the paper directly at the dog, in its pen. This worked well for a period of about six months until the dog escaped and proceeded to knock the boy from his bike and latch onto the boys face. Kizzy attacked the dog, causing the dog an immense amount of harm and saved the paperboys life. The paper boy did need reconstructive surgery on his face, but was saved due to Kizzy. The local newspaper even did a story on Kizzy, proclaiming her a hero.

I had totally fallen in love with this dog and I am not sure if she passed away before we moved back to Salt Lake or after. The only thing I know is I couldn't wait until I was on my own to get a Blue Heeler of my own. Several years later I briefly had an encounter with a very beautiful Red Heeler named Diggs. When I was 23 and decided to get me my very own dog, I couldn't decide on a color or a sex, so I got a blue male and a red female.

Having two of these dogs, has occasionally, been a nightmare. High energy dogs that get bored easily can destroy a lot of your favorite belongings. It has been an expensive journey but 13 years later, I don't regret it for one second.

Queensland Heeler a dog of many colors.

3:31 PM Posted by rockrunner

Often times I have told people I have a Red Heeler for a dog. I get asked "Wow, is that like a Blue Heeler?" Yes, Yes it is. I have one of those too and they are the exact same breed. As a matter of fact these dogs have several names; Red Heeler, Blue Heeler, Halls Heeler. The American Kennel Club would refer to them as Australian Cattle Dogs. A more generic name is Queensland Heeler. The term Red Heeler or Blue Heeler are a reference to the color of the dog, not a different breed. Queensland Heelers that are brown, are referred to as Red Heelers and Queensland Heelers that are grey or black are called Blue Heelers. Two Red Heelers can have a Blue Heeler and two Blue Heelers can have a Red Heeler. A Blue Heeler and a Red Heeler do not produce a purple dog. There is one difference between a Queensland Heeler and an Australian Cattle Dog. To be American Kennel Club certified they cannot have a docked tail. In other words the Blue Heeler, Red Heeler, Queensland Heeler are unwanted dogs by the American Kennel Club, because they don't have tails.

Queensland Heelers came about in Australia in the 1800's. When the ranching of cattle started to move further west, ranchers started to notice that the dogs they had been using couldn't keep up or get the job done in the deserts harsh environment. Years of experimentation yielded what we have now, the Queensland Heeler. I have read numerous books and sources about the creation of the cattle dog. There is numerous speculation about what type of dogs went in to the creation of the Red Heelers and the Blue Heelers. I don't think anyone really knows. One expert claims to know one theory and another expert claims a completely different theory. The most common combination that comes up more than any other is: Blue Merle Collie, Australian Kelpie, Dalmation, Dingo, and Staffordshire Terrier.

The Blue Merle Collie apparently has the smallest influence on Red Heelers. Their only noticeable contribution is the grey color in the Blue Heelers. Red Heelers get their coloring from one of the other breeds.

The Australian Kelpie was chosen for its innate ability to work cattle. Heelers are natural herding dogs. Queensland Heelers will nip the heels of cattle to get them to start moving, a trait that non-working dogs still carry and has given many dogs an aggressive reputation. This is why they have the name heeler, a trait they most likely inherited from the Kelpie.

The Dalmation was chosen for its natural love and affinity for horses. If you ever see a picture of an old horse drawn fire engine and a Dalmation on the seat, now you know why. Dalmations can naturally tell the difference between a horse and a cow. Nothing could be a bigger annoyance than having your dog heel your mount. The Dalmation's DNA is why Queensland Heelers are born white.

The Dingo was chosen for its endurance, stamina and ability to withstand and survive in Australias western desert. A Red Heeler unlike the Blue Heeler gets its coloring from the Dingo. Dingos were too wild and aggressive to work cattle so they had to mix it with others to make it trainable. Don't underestimate your heeler though. One animal biologist has suggested that the Queensland Heeler is as close as you can get to owning a wild animal without a special permit.

Lastly is the Staffordshire Terrier. Did I mention that the Queensland Heeler nips at the heels of the cattle to get them to move? Well if you are going to be working with your teeth all day, you are going to need a strong bite.

Now that you know that Blue Heelers, Red Heelers, Queensland Heelers, Halls Heelers and Australian Cattle Dogs are all the same dog, you can watch these movies which have featured a heeler. "Last of the Dogmen", "The Road Warrior", "Secret Window" and more recently "The Incredible Hulk".