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The Australian kelpie

When I first came to Australia seven years ago I had never heard of a kelpie, and since then I'm pretty much continuously lived with one or both of the only kelpies I know.  Chime was the first kelpie I met, she belongs to a friend that I lived with them I first came to Australia, and she now lives with us while my friend is overseas.  Cheryl is Pete's dog, she puts up with me, but given the choice she always goes with Pete.  We try to take the dogs with us where-ever we go, they are part of our family and they are allowed inside and sleep next to our bed (this may change when we have a nice house! I am forever sweeping up dog hair!).



Kelpies are a uniquely Australian breed.  The details of the origins of this breed are very vague, apparently the original "kelpie" was a black working bitch, named after the celtic kelpie, and bred from a collie and maybe a dingo, her pups started to be known as good workers, and people were asking for kelpie's pups (more on wikipedia) and then somehow they became a breed.  Kelpies are used as both sheep and cattle working dogs.  They can be black or red, with or without eyebrows (I prefer the eyebrows, they have so much expression on their faces).

beach and ball are Cheryl's favourite things
Neither of our kelpies are pure, Chime is crossed with a cattle dog and Cheryl is unknown, maybe with a Rottweiler, as she is larger, with rougher fur.  They are both very energetic, even at the age of 9 and 11 (you can imagine what they were like as pups!).  Their favourite time of day is early morning (sometimes we are woken by Cheryl wagging her tail, just happy to be awake) and when we get home from work.  Cheryl's favourite thing to do is to play ball, and she occasionally resorts to throwing the ball in the air for herself to catch, she has a collection ranging from a soccer ball to golf balls.  Chime doesn't really get ball, but she loves to chew on things, we give them bones so she has something to chew on that's not Cheryl's ball!  They are supposed to be good at jumping, Cheryl can still get on the back of the ute with the tailgate down, but Chime can't work it out, she is better at climbing into cars than jumping.  Cheryl loves a swim at the beach or in the dam, but Chime is very timid around water and will only wet her paws.  They are both very sweet companions with their own distinct personalities, and since they have been together they have got up to all sorts of mischief, lets just say no egg on the veranda is safe, even if it appears to be out of kelpie reach!

got to love those eyebrows!

Unfortunately neither of them show any natural ability with working cattle.  Cheryl tends to try to lick their noses (which was ok when we had tame cattle only) and even though Chime was trained to work cattle when she was younger, and she knows to be scared of them, and gives them a good snarl if they come to close, she doesn't know how to move them where we want them!  We would like to one day get a working dog to help us with the cattle.  At the moment I tend to walk behind the mob with the dogs, while Pete takes the lead with a bale of hay, and by instinct the cattle stay mobbed up without the dogs having to do much, but it would be nice to have a dog with some ability to round up a mob itself!  We know that three dogs is too much (and probably having a pup at the moment is too much anyway), so we are waiting for our opportunity (either when Chime goes home or one of them dies) to get another dog, and it will probably be another kelpie cross.

an old dog needs a good bed
Have you heard of kelpies?  Do you know any personally?


Comments

  1. My in-laws used to have a Red Cloud Kelpie (like the one in Red Dog). She was gorgeous. Incredibly friendly and loyal. We were doggy-sitting her once and during a party managed to get hold of a block of Red Leister Cheese; downed the whole thing in seconds. We even found her burying toast around the yard. Perhaps saving it for later.
    They are such beautiful. I love watching them work. They are so smart.
    Your two look gorgeous.

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  2. both your dogs look lovely. There was a kelpie on the beach the other day that kept running round and round us us - she obviously was a good herder. Oh I moved over to Australia from America 7 years ago - where did you come from? I thought you were a die-hard Aussie :)

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  3. Our Jessie is a Kelpie as you know and she is a bundle of energy. She has all the instinct to work cattle but none of the training. So if she gets the chance to sneak into the neighbours she rounds the cows up into a bunch and pushes the mob from one end of the paddock to the other. Getting her to come back when she is so excited is impossible. She is so loving and just wants to be with us all the time which is what I love.

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  4. I love their eyebrows too.
    Working on a dairyfarm for a few months I got to know a few kelpies.
    They are lovely animals and I hope to one day have one or two of my own.

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  5. I have a black and tan kelpie named Asha she looks very similar to your girls. She is a very active girl a fantastic runner and always wants to play. She is pure has a beautiful coat and those charismatic eyebrows. She was a give away from a farm on the sa/vic border. She loves to run on the beach and dig holes in my Veg garden. I think she maybe would have been better suited to a working life rather than being a family pet. She is even a good guard dog and very much dislikes cats .We love her very much.

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  6. Lovely dogs,love those cute eyebrows.

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  7. Lots of great Kelpie stories, I can feel the love! thanks everyone!

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  8. I love there eyebrows and there ears. My uncle has one.

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Thanks, I appreciate all your comments, suggestions and questions, but I don't always get time to reply right away. If you need me to reply personally to a question, please leave your email address in the comment or in your profile, or email me directly on eight.acres.liz at gmail.com

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