ASCUK is the foundation Australian Shepherd Club in the UK and was formed in 1986 by a few dedicated breed enthusiasts.
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There are two main theories with regards to the origin of the Australian Shepherd, and as yet no one theory can be proved or disproved.
Although the Australian Shepherd is called Australian it is in fact a bred that has been mainly developed in America, the origin of this breed goes back to the Basque/Spanish sheepdogs. It was in the late 1800's when the Basques emigrated to Australia to find work taking their sheepdogs with them, undoubtedly during the time in Australia some interbreeding took place.
In the early 1900's the Basque's then moved on to America taking their sheep and dogs with them, whilst in America it is believed that further interbreeding took place, so that the dogs became more versatile and were able to work different stock, therefore becoming more useful to their owners.
Another theory as to the existence of the Australian shepherd is that as the new world (America) was opened up to trade it was also open to immigrants, and many nationalities from all over Europe travelled to find a different life and took with the a wide variety of dogs some for herding, some for guarding and of course some which were just pets, and through interbreeding of some of these selected dogs the Australian Shepherd was born, to work a variety of stock as they do today.
The Australian Shepherd was first imported in to this country 1985/86 by Mr. and Mrs. Jueckstock, since then many more dogs have been imported and they are growing in popularity all the time with now approximately 2500 presently in the UK with many breed lines that go back to the original breeding stock from America, and the gene pool is growing all the time.
Introduction to the Aussie in the UK.
A forward by Winnie Brown (Macintyre) - Gefion
SO WHERE DID IT ALL BEGIN ??
It was 1985 and Carol Snell and I were working our Border Collies in obedience, when out of the blue Geoff Snell, (the trainer at our local obedience club) who had been travelling in America came home with stories that he had seen some Australian Shepherds at a dog show. We were interested but thought no more about it, until Lanell and Brian Jueckstock contacted Carol, they had 3 Australian Shepherds in quarantine, Lucy, Delialiah and Sampson, and the bitch (Gold Nugget Delialah) was in whelp to (Jokers Wild Sapphire Sampson). They had been in contact as Carol at that time had an Australian Cattle Dog, and they thought they were the same.
So off we went to the quarantine kennels at Heathrow to see these pups, and well they were gorgeous. As Lanell and Brian were in rented accommodation, I offered to take the puppies home as living at Cedarbrook, with 5 acres, 5 pups were no problem.
So home they came, 4 boys and a girl:, well remember your first sight of an Aussie pup? I knew I just had to keep one.... so Clipper was my first Aussie, and the other boys went to Carol, Jackie Treagus, Sue Chapman, and the bitch to Sheila Eckersly, who lit up the agility world in her time.
We founded the Australian Shepherd Club of the UK with a few of the original Aussie owners never believing in those days it would grow to the size it has.
Having seen and lived with these lovely dogs Carol and I decided to contact some American breeders to see if we could import some sound stock for the future, remembering at that time we were solely into working our dogs, but also aware that foundation stock had to hold its own for the future.
There was no e-mail, Facebook etc in those days so it was a matter of doing the old thing of letter writing. We wrote to as many of the Aussie breeders we could find in an Australian Shepherd Club of America magazine, that Geoff had brought back from America. At that time American breeders were not interested in sending dogs to the UK, and I am ever grateful that we tied up with Georgean Hertzwig who was willing to help the breed get started in the UK.
So that was the start... Carol and I researched everything we could about Australian Shepherds. The information at that time was very limited, but Georjean passed onto us her knowledge of the breed.
So the first Imports were, ASCA Ch. Steal the Show of Bainbridge, who came over with Gefions Fire on Ice, who was in whelp to ASCA Ch. Bayshores Three to Get Ready, then the next two imports were Gefions Scarlette Star in whelp to ASCA Ch. Brigadoons California Dude (HD HS STDs ASCA HOF Sire), and Gefions Ohtobe Gorgeous in whelp to ASCA Ch. Zellers Winterhavens Rusty. The next import was ASCA Ch. Gefions Flashdance in whelp to Los Pinos Main Coast O’Gefion, and last but by no means least our lovely ASCA Ch. Propwash Ebbtide Zinfandel at Gefion.
In between time we had taken some trips to see the National Shows in America and looking back, it was such a honour to have seen some of the oldies in the pedigrees, and to meet their owners, that are in the lines of many of the Aussies today.
I do believe that the Gefion Aussies brought into the UK showed the true essence of the Aussie, conformation and working going hand in hand, as the pedigrees of these dogs go back on the old working lines that first brought the Aussie to prominence in the USA; ie the Flintridge, Windermere, Sisler and Colorado foundation stock.
At the time of these imports the Kennel Club would only accept the Aussies on the Obedience and Working Register as Working Sheepdogs; as all the above dogs were registered with the Australian Shepherd Club of America (then the only register in the USA), this was a problem that would have to be solved.
Also it was with sadness that Carol Snell had to drop out of the Gefion breeding (due to personal circumstances) and so I kept all the adult imports and Carol took a couple of young Aussies with her when she moved to a smaller house.
So began the Gefion breeding programme at Cedarbrook, and the work of getting the Kennel Club to recognise Australian Shepherd as a pure breed.
Once again without the luxury of e-mail, it took me a whole summer of letter writing to chase up the registration numbers from the ASCA records and to prove to the Kennel Club that these were indeed pedigree dogs with registration numbers. With the enormous help of Andrew Webster and a visit from Georjean we presented our case at a meeting with the Kennel Club.
The story from there most of you will know, we were accepted first on the Obedience Register as Australian Shepherds, ASCUK was registered and then onto the Import Register, AVNSC, and now all the way to CC status.
It was hard work but we did have fun in the days back then, and our small but always fun Aussie Rally’s were the treat of the year. Some of the oldies in the Club will remember some of the riotous things we got up to, from Training and Obedience to Working Trials and Agility.
One memorial occasion was Sandy Boyfield bringing over some Indian Runners (ducks) to train our dogs on. As some people will know, they are not supposed to fly, but one had other ideas and took off into the next field. To our utter shame we had to send in a Border Collie to persuade it back !! There was also the fun times of the evening parties, Keith Beastall’s palm reading, Bobbie Rogers always one of the first to start off the dancing, games that would probably have suited 10 year olds, but NOT the amount of alcohol we managed to consume.
They were good years and I hope that you have the love and devotion to the breed that those early owners had and worked so hard to achieve to bring you the pleasure of the Aussies you have today.
Winnie Brown (Macintyre)
Since arriving in the U.K. in 1985, the Aussie’s have certainly made their mark in the breed ring and all aspects of work. The Australian Shepherd is a breed that is extremely versatile and can be taught almost anything with patience and reward training, they are slower to mature than the Border Collie but once taught they do not forget.
They can be trained in all aspects of working activities with excellent results. Aussies are also used as registered PAT dogs, search and rescue, and there are also fully qualified Aussie guide dogs. They will still give you the love, devotion, strength and protection of a German Shepherd.
Another young lady Roxanne McDonald progressed up the ladder of success in KCJO handling classes with her Aussie bitch Cagasa Bell Air at Heibri who was in partnership with her grandparents. Roxanne then handed the reins over to her younger brother Joe and he handled Cagasa Red Red Wine at Heibri and his parents Irish Red and White Setters. Many other Junior handlers are now forging successful partnerships with their Aussies and we have qualifiers for Crufts Junior Handling, YKC, Grooming, Flyball, Agility, Heelwork to Music and Conformation.
There are now a considerable number of Aussies competing in agility, running from Grade 1 to Grade 7 at the minute. They are fast, accurate, powerful and can turn instantly. Gerry and Sheila Eckersley have competed successfully with their Aussies in agility for a number of years, Pete and Denise Catt (nee Moon), Catherine Fuller, Mark Douglas, Gary and Tracy Smith and their Aussies are currently making their mark on the agility circuit along with many others with their up and coming young dogs.
Dogs are not allowed to compete in agility until they are eighteen months old, this allows the dog’s bones to develop naturally and prevents shoulder problems from jumping and weaving to early. This rule hopefully allows puppies to lead a normal puppy life before the working activities take over. Patience, control and reward in training Aussies for agility will reap its reward in future success
Jean and Bruce Hellingsworth do carting with their two Aussies and Bernese Mountain Dogs (BMD’s). Jay shown below was introduced to carting when she was just over a year old,
The first problem was finding her a suitable small cart. Friends rallied round and a small antique cart was found and beautifully restored. Other friends made the harness and a few months later Jay was pulling the cart and attending carting parade events all over the country. She is now highly competent and carries out many advanced manoeuvres required for the draught tests, including reversing. Rio started training a couple of years later and being a larger dog he could not fit into Jay’s cart so needed one of his own. He now has an original hand cart that has been restored with shafts made to fit his size, this will enable him to compete in the BMD’s draught tests as his cart is within regulation size.
Aussie size, character, temperament, physical and mental abilities make them an ideal breed for this type of work. They are a robust medium size dog with an all weather coat that is easy to maintain. They have a strong character and are game for anything. Although some may show the typical shepherd dog reserve of strangers, it does not out weigh their basic love of humans.
The work is often demanding both physical, and mentally requires great powers of concentration. Searching allows the dog a greater amount of freedom and independence to work which the Aussie enjoys.
Because of their balance and physical adeptness they can cope with any terrain, being agile and sure of foot like a goat.
Jim Greenwood also took part in search, disaster and rescue work with his Aussie- Accra Silver Swizzle. Jim and his dog were called upon to help locate a body amongst the rubble of a building, the dog located the body and duly alerted his handler.