Shepherd's Way Mace

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This description was written when Mace was four years old. His weight ranges between 60 and 65 pounds. He’s 22.5” tall. From his collar to the base of his tail, he’s 23” long.

Temperament is very good. Over the 4th of July, he went to town to see the parade and he greeted everyone appropriately. He wasn’t tugging on the leash, he followed me and pretty much ignored other folks unless I stopped to talk to them. Kids running past, sirens, lights flashing, horses and tractors and other stuff going by didn’t faze him. At home he will bark, and sounds ferocious, when someone comes in the driveway, but quickly warms up when that person is okay with me. He didn’t like some men when he was younger, but he seems to be over that. All of his pups that I have heard about have great temperaments. There is a range there – one from the second litter was a little shy, but came out of that with socialization.

Working ability. He “turned on” to cattle when he was four months old, when he helped put a neighbor’s calf back in its lot. He went to a puppy herding clinic at five months old, and really shone – had more talent and focus than the Border collies there, and they were mostly about a year old. By the end of four working sessions, he was gathering and doing walk-abouts. The trainer commented that he could handle a lot of pressure, and that’s been the case for him all along. He is not easily discouraged. That has been a good thing, since he’s training me, and our cattle, while I’ve been trying to train him! He’s very forgiving of the mistakes I’ve made. When I got him, we had a herd of about 90 range cattle that had not been worked with dogs before. I waited until he was a year old before I took him around them and asked him to work, just to be sure he was physically mature and capable of getting out of their way if necessary. He had no problem, and has “dog-broke” our cattle, some of which wanted to take him on in a fight rather than move off when he got close. They all move now. He is a low-heeler. He usually will bite just above the fetlock. I’ve also seen him bite a face when the cow had her head down challenging him. He only bites when he needs to, to get a cow or bull moving. His bite is not hard. He almost looks like he’s carefully placing his teeth around the fetlock, but it’s fast. He doesn’t get kicked, and the cow moves. He also works our sheep. Right now we have 11 ewes and 18 lambs, and I usually work them all together. He gathers to me, holds them at a gate, and we’re starting to work on driving. He does it all. I’ll be taking him to some trials this fall, and I have no doubt he’ll do well (unless I mess up!). He already does all the things he needs to do for HRD I in the AHBA system. (As of October 31, 2009, Mace has earned his HRD I (s) title.)

Puppies. At least half of his first litter (out of Hetzner’s Mona) went to working homes, and those folks are really pleased with them. One works a large herd of range cattle. One works sheep and goats, and does very well. Another is on a small farm with sheep and llamas, and is the llama specialist. One is on a small farm in Michigan, and is a chore dog with goats, turkeys, and other small animals. The lone male in that litter is also on a small farm with chickens, and horses. His owners are also very pleased with his work. It’s the same story with the second litter. One is on a cattle ranch in Kansas, and works cows for her owners. Another works a large flock of sheep (I’m thinking 200+ head). Another is in Germany and works sheep and goats and does very well. Another is on a sheep farm in British Columbia and is mostly a protection dog – they don’t ask him to herd very much. A couple more are agility dogs.

What do I see that I want to continue? He’s very loving, a real “English shadow”, always right there by me, looking for ways to help and watching out for me. I like his resilience in the face of my sometimes-bumbling training. I really like his natural instincts and feel for the livestock. He knows much better than I do how to control them. He’s my right-hand dog. He has produced some very nice working dogs.

He has very strong herding drive. That is something we worked a lot on controlling. And we started out working cattle on a long-line. He’s been scruffed several times for not listening to me when I tell him to quit. His adrenaline kicks in and his hearing disappears. He’s much better at listening now, and I’m much better at seeing when he’s getting excited, and can intervene before things get too exciting. I think that is one area that I have learned a lot – reading my dog. If I had been better at it when he was younger, and known what I was doing, I don’t think we would have struggled with that so much. That said, his biggest temptation is groundhogs, and I haven’t really tried to call him off of them when he first sees them. Don’t know if I could or not. Once they are in their hole or wherever they are hiding, I can call him off.

His sire is Sandi Thomas’ Boston, in Antelope, OR. Boston is a working cow dog for Sandi and her husband. They have lots of people coming and going on their farm. Boston handles it all very well, has a great temperament. His dam is Mary Peaslee’s Raven. Raven has advanced herding titles (HRD III) on sheep, and also works cattle. She likes to know what the job is, then proceeds to accomplish it quietly and calmly. I think Mace is like Raven in wanting to know what the job is, then he figures out how to get it done. I think he’s a little higher energy, apparently more like Boston, though I’ve never met Boston in person.

© Kris Hazelbaker

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