Every weekend, Chris and I take Ronnie down to Tahunanui Beach to run, roll, swim and chase. The main event of the outing however is the hunt….. but the hunt I mean finding the perfect stick.
For our family this means following a super excited Doggle down to the sand, trailing through the huge mass of sticks that the previous tide has washed up the night before, picking up a few possible candidates while Ronnie constantly jumps up trying to get them out of our hand…..
You see a stick is not just a stick. You can’t just pick up any old stick and chuck it down the beach for Ronnie to chase. It has to be……
- Quite long – we don’t want a small stick that he will loose in a whirlwind of sand.
- Of the driftwood variety – the sticks that have been washed up and in the water for too long are too wet and heavy, not good sticks for rolling along the beach.
- It can’t be straight – they are useless. Ronnie rolls the stick along the beach with his nose while making ridiculous noises while everyone laughs at him. If its a straight stick he can’t get his nose under it.
- No sharp bits. Ouchy nose.
- Preferably with a curve like the one in the photo.
Ok…the stick in the photo is a little too large for the dog in question, but you know what they say – don’t blame the tools.
You see, for us humans, a stick is a stick. They are on the ground, trees have them, you trip on them and we put them in our fires. To a dog, sticks are the best friggen thing ever! I mean come on!!! A stick!!! How cool!!!!
This stick is not a good stick….hence stationary doggle.
To get to the point of this post, today, while going through the process of finding the right stick, I stood there and breathed in the fresh, warm beach air, smiling up at the sun and thought to myself, If we had the same joy towards life as Ronnie has towards a stick…and the beach, man what a life it would be! Thank god for Chris, Ronnie and I – we do!
As spring arrives and summer approaches, the mornings are lighter and the evenings longer – marks the beginning of mine and Ron dog’s favourite time of year. For us, summer time equals ADVENTURE TIME!!!!
One of the benefits you gain when your dog is your best mate, is that you can go on so many cool adventures together, and Nelson summer time provides endless options. Ronnie and I are both water babies at heart, I myself love Kitesurfing, Wake boarding, Paddle Boarding and Waka Ama, and Ron – well he just loves coming out on the Paddle Board and swimming.
It is the sense of adventure that makes our relationship so close, I can literally take him anywhere, and he makes the most out of the situation, even if it was unplanned.
Our family lives in The Wood, central Nelson where there are heaps of river lands to swim in and tracks to run and hike. Ronnie and I get up early each morning and walk up the Matai river and then up The Centre of New Zealand where you never get sick of the views. Ronnie usually finds a stick to carry to the top, only dropping it when he finds a Rabbit or Bird to chase (he never gets them).
Tahunanui beach is another one of our favourite places to hang out. The back beach is an area specifically for dogs to run around, swim and play, and sometimes people without dogs come down just to hang out with other people’s dogs. The dog beach is a great place for dogs to socialise, and you often see puppies on leads super excited as it is their very first time experiencing the sand and sea. The beach is probably Ronnie’s favourite place to go play, as soon as you say that we are going he is running around the house trying to find his collar and his leash, whimpering and wagging his tail.
Ronnie in the car nearly at the beach – the excitement is real….
Once we arrive he leaps out of the car and sprints down to the sand, waits patiently till we find a good stick to throw and the it’s on! Hundreds of sprinty stick chasey, waggy tail, barky barky, rolling overs and swim fetching….Ronnie is pooped. Time for a big drink of water and a towel to dry his sandy mutt butt.
Other places Ronnie and I like to adventure to is up the Barnicoat Range. Barnicoat Range is a huge hill in the Marsden Valley that is cut through a forrest. The walk itself is serene and beautiful with greenery everywhere, but the view at the top is the part worth waiting for. It takes about an hour to reach the summit, and with the hill being very steep… it is the perfect way to wear out an energetic Blue Heeler.
Ronnie wanting me to hurry up at the start of Barnicoat Hill
Where ever I take Ronnie always ends up being worth the mission to get there, and with Blue Heelers needing around three decent walks a day if they are not working, it is good for my exercise too. Whatever kind of physical exercise you do with your pet ends up being good for your health too, almost like a kind of therapy. Seeing how happy it makes Ronnie to be out there experiencing the world makes me happy too. So we are happy together. Any adventure that Chris and I go on always accounts for him, whether dogs are allowed in that area, is there shade, is there water etc, and its completely worth it.
So…bring on summer I say! Ronnie and I are waiting for you……
One of my best friends Gemma has been Aunty to Ronnie since he was a puppy. Gemma over the years has lived with us at our house and over those years has been subject to the Ron Doggle too. We have always been a family.
We have been away on trips together, done numerous beach walks, hill walks, attempts to actually run, swimming expeditions and other play dates that have created many great memories in doing so. Like me, Gemma understands Ronnie’s personality and character, as much as Ronnie know hers.
The above photo is Gemma attempting to do yoga with Ronnie in the lounge….as you can see.. she wasn’t that successful.
When Gemma met her boyfriend Tom, she decided it was once again time to come home and visit her family, and introduce him to us…..and Ronnie. That was going to be the major test. He may not get along with someone in her family, but if Ronnie didn’t like him…well – then we would have an issue!
It was awesome having my friend back with me, and great that our family (with the introduction of Tom) had extended. Gemma and Tom took Ronnie for walks when I couldn’t, baby sat him when we were away, fed him while I was working and looked after him as if he was their dog too. The best thing about the situation…. Tom fell absolutely head over heels in love with Ronnie, and Ronnie him too. All the sudden, the two were inseparable. Tom trained Ronnie to do new tricks everyday, bought him toys, let him sleep with them at night, and did basically everything together while they were here. A special friendship developed that will last a lifetime.
Ronnie and his mate Tom
The day Gemma and Tom left to move to Australia was a tough day for our family, and especially tough for Tom to leave Ronnie behind (I had to remind him that Ron was my dog, not his). When they were settled in Perth, Gemma rang me to tell me some exciting news… they were adopting a Heeler! So, in saying that…..I introduce GUS!!!
Gus is a 1 year old rescue Heeler from near Perth and after leaving Ronnie, Gemma and Tom decided they too needed some Heeler in their life!
This post was never intended to be educational or entertaining or even funny. The fact of the matter is…I really miss my friends, but knowing we have a connection of loving Heelers in common, really warms my heart, and I can’t wait for the day when we all live in the same area and Ronnie and Gus can be mates.
By now, for those of you that follow my blog, you would have quickly realised that Ronnie is my best friend. He amazes me. His personality and his character are like no other pet I have had, and the rest of my friends and family that know him would definitely agree. When experiencing the complexities of life, situations and the people we come across it is important to know the history and background of these factors to fully understand what we see today. So – in that, Ronnie is more than the personality he shows me daily, in fact, there are traits and characteristics typical of his breed that are different to any other dog breed.
So… I decided that it was time to delve into the origins and history of Australian Cattle Dogs… (with a little help from various Internet sources) I have compiled some fun facts about my beloved Blue Heeler.
The Australian Cattle Dog (ACD) is a breed of working dog, traditionally developed in Australia to herd droves of cattle in the outback. They have a life span of 13 – 15 years, BUT i have heard of them living much longer than that. Cattle Dogs have an interesting “mixed bag” temperament. Ronnie for example is extremely loyal to me, but can get very protective and grumpy towards people he sees as a threat to him receiving attention…but on the other hand, he is sweet and affectionate, cuddly and chilled out. Heelers can be timid and cautious depending on their upbringing and training, but will be your ultimate protector and are very brave.
The average Cattle Dog can weight between 14 – 16kg, and be a height of 43 – 48cm and they are usually blue or red coloured, and can have a “tri colour” look with areas and spots of black and tan on their faces. Their coats can be speckled or mottled, meaning if they are speckled they have light spots on dark colours and mottled is the reversed. Their coats are water resistant as they have a double layer.
There are personality traits that are unique to Cattle Dogs, and when I think of Ronnie, he definitely is a super typical ACD.
They are working/herding/droving/ankle biting/too smart for their own good dogs.
When settlers arrived in Australia, they shipped over livestock to form farms, and sheep dogs to manage them. That breed of dog was called a Smithfield – being named after the Smithfield meat markets in The United Kingdom. These dogs were not cutting it in the harsh outback: their coats were too long and slowed them down, their bite was too strong and they had a loud, piercing bark. It was time to breed a new and improved working dog.
THEY ARE PART DINGO!!!!
So apparently in 1840 – a guy named Thomas Hall decided it would be a good idea to cross the Blue Merle Collie (another type of working dog) with a Dingo. The result – a Hall’s Heeler. These dogs were the first to really behave in the way that we know of Heelers today – they were continuously sneaking up on livestock and nipping their heels. hence the word HEELER. After Thomas Hall passed away, two brothers named Jack and Harry Bagust crossed this new breed with the Dalmation, and then the Kelpie to finally arrive at what we know as the Australian Cattle Dog.
They herd random things
It it moves…I herd….. that’s Ronnie’s philosophy! Below is a list of the random things that Ronnie cannot help give in to his natural instincts and chase…
- Logging trucks (yes this is an issue we are working on)
- People walking in lines – DO NOT break from the line.
- Occasionally bicycles. At any speed. He will get you.
- Your feet under the covers when your in bed…….
- Actual livestock of any sort, regardless of size and regardless of if it needs to be headed or not.
- Your own the its time for dog roll.
- Rubbish Bins
- The vacuum cleaner (nemesis)
- Any water sport boards
- Other dogs
- An empty plastic cup that the wind blew down the road
- The washing line when the wind blows it around.
There are many more…..
They are robust, hardy, rough and tough balls of endless energy – enough said.
The oldest dog in the world was a Heeler
His name was Bluey – he was born in 1910 and he died in 1939 at the age of 29………….
So – for those of you that didn’t know very much about Australian Cattle Dogs….I hope you have a better idea of how wonderful they really are! Ronnie is energetic, loving, intelligent, agile and fast, expressive, affectionate and wonderful. I definitely could not have another breed of dog again.
Today, for dog lovers all over New Zealand is a day to celebrate. IT’S NATIONAL DOG DAY!!! I had planned to blog tonight about the behavioural characteristics of Heelers and Kelpies in general but have decided to talk about something a little fun and light hearted…….and yes, that means sharing with you guys, photos of Ronnie (like I can get enough!)
When I told my mum it was national dog day today, she just rolled her eyes…. she said for me, every day is national dog day. It got me thinking though, each year, we have birthdays, we celebrate other important dates in our lives such as anniversaries, father’s days, mother’s days, brother’s days, blah, blah, blah. We take photos of these celebrations and put them in albums, always there as special memories we keep…….so keeping in true style to celebrating our family members I decided to make this post a simple celebration and a very happy national dog day to my right hand man, Ron Dog, Ron, Ronaldo, Ronaldinho, Rondoni Minestroni, Ronald McDonald, Ron Burgundy, Rondles, Ron Schmacko, Ron Diggigity, Ronix, Ronald Reagan, McFur Burger, Fluffin McMuffin, Doggle and the ultimate good boy….RONNIE. Love you pupper!