Tazmanian Devil (Taz)
Taz joined our family on July 21, 2011. Our interest in Australian Working Kelpies came after meeting a working Kelpie at a local cattle ranch. After looking briefly into getting a puppy, we learned of someone 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 meet us, she was very scared. She promptly showed her true colours when she bit anyone who tried to get her out of her kennel.
Knowing she would probably be shot if we let her go back with her previous owner, we 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 would bite anyone who tried to touch or handle her. It became very apparent 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. It took a very long time to build a relationship with her. She was very suspicious of anyone who paid attention to her. 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 was also able to work on the cattle ranch. 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 we 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 spent a number of years keeping the boys safe when they work cattle on the ground and was a tremendous help on cattle drives. She was 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 loved it.
I have learned so much as a trainer and as an animal lover, through having Taz in my life. And I wouldn’t change it for anything!