Tazmanian Devil (Taz)
Taz joined our family on July 21, 2011. Our interest in Australian Working Kelpies came out of my boyfriend, Carlos’ job on a cattle ranch west of Calgary. After looking briefly into getting a puppy, the cow-boss at Carlos’ work heard of a friend who was looking to rehome his 3 year old female Kelpie. Following brief discussion, we decided to have a look at the dog.
The gentleman who owned her had gotten her as a puppy, and used her to work cattle until she was 8months old. Then a change of situation found him back in school studying to be a farrier, and unable to provide the exercise and stimulus his Kelpie puppy needed. When he brought her to the ranch, she was very scared. She promptly showed her true colours when she bit the cow-boss after he tried to get her out of her kennel.
Knowing she would probably be shot if we let her go back with her previous owner, Carlos and I decided to bring her home, and try to find her a new home. We could see her fear would make it very difficult to get her doing the job she was bred for. On the first night we had her at home, she bit both Carlos and I. We knew at that moment that this dog could not go into any formal rescue organization. Nor should she. She was not an adoptable dog, and it was not fair to her, or to a rescue organization to use up their limited and valuable resources on her. So, we decided to keep her.
She came with the name ‘Paige’. She did not answer to that name at all, so we decided to give her a fresh start with a fresh name. One behaviour she showed from the very beginning, was she loved to spin. She would spin in her crate, spin on her leash, spin when she was excited, and spin when she was nervous. That was how she got the name ‘Tazmanian Devil’, and we call her Taz for short.
It has been a very long and trying journey with Taz. She bonded very quickly with Carlos, and she just LOVES him. My relationship with her took much longer. I spent a year and a half hand feeding her every meal she ate at home. I also started training her in anything I could figure out how to train. We started with crate training, and then moved on to basic behaviours like sit and downs. We trained politeness on leash, and finally we moved on to the fun stuff, tricks, frisbee and agility training!
Taz made her debut in Superdogs in 2013. Some of her quirks, such as her total lack of interest in other dogs or people, make her perfect for the show. She is able to work in close proximity to other dogs and people without being distracted by them. She has played frisbee in the show and has even won a couple of long distance catch competitions. She has also showed off the tricks she’s learned with her freestyle dance routines.
But most notably, Taz is also working on the cattle ranch with Carlos. For a long time, we weren’t sure if she would ever get to a point where she could work livestock again. At first she was so nervous she would run away when Carlos tried to work her. Or she would completely ignore the livestock. With time and patience, and as her confidence grew with her other training, she began to show interest. She now keeps the boys save when the work cattle on the ground and often helps with cattle drives. She is also the go to dog to dog-break new cattle that have never been worked by dogs before. This is a very difficult job as it requires working in very close quarter with cows who out-weigh her by 1500lbs. And Taz loves it.
I have learned so much as a trainer and as an animal lover, through having Taz in my life. And while there are still some challenges with her, I wouldn’t change it for anything!