1/29/2003 – 5/12/2018 – died of suspected lymphoma at 15
Incredibly responsive and driven, if she wasn’t in my novice hands, she could have been a top agility or stock dog – or frisbee dog or whatever you wanted. Though she is small, she was powerful, athletic, and lithe. When you asked her to do something, she said, “I’ll try. I’ll try real hard!”
She was remarkably fit and active in her old age – most people thought she was a puppy. She was quite a gift to me for her longevity, health, and ability and I’m glad she’s contributed to the genepool of the Aussie. When I “ordered” a dog from Terry Martin, I asked for a dog that was healthy after bad luck with my first two with a drive and looks and she pointed me to Tracey McPherson – and Tracey delivered.
I realize that people go to websites like this to find out more about the dogs in their pedigrees, so I’m going to give you some stories about her instead of telling you.
I got Fury out of college, deciding that I’d rather have another dog than adventure around the world. She ended up going with me all over anyway – we did lots of US road trips, she flew with me to Aussie Nationals, and she basically saw me go from an insecure post-college grad to a professional and a mom. She went through my boyfriends, approving of all of them, but truly loving the guy that eventually would become my husband – even though she didn’t particularly like people. If they were important to me, they were important to her.
She was my first lesson in what a reserved, sharp Aussie was and how to manage it. I didn’t do a very good job most of her life, but she made me a much better dog trainer and handler as a result. She was not the kind of dog you could give to a stranger . . . one time, I sent her off with a roommate to bond on a hike, and the roommate took her off leash and she gave her the middle finger and went straight home. I think she also got hit by a car on the way, but she was mostly fine when she arrived. She did this a lot. On a climbing trip, I’d be in a grocery store only to see her skirt through an aisle looking for me.
She was an excellent performance dog because of this trait. I could go anywhere and the only thing she wanted was me. Nothing else distracted her. It was almost too easy to be successful which is why I didn’t try too hard in agility or obedience. She was trained to elite levels but I just didn’t feel like proving it with the time it would take to trial her. I’m not saying this with an ego trying to prove something, I’m saying it with a bit of regret because now that she’s gone, this is all just talk.
She was so snappy – every movement was precise and instant, and it was a very hard quality to work with in the stock arena when I didn’t have great timing and started out thinking I could figure it out on my own – ha ha, I couldn’t. And by the time I came around, both of us had some bad habits that we never really overcame. By the time I got my stuff together, she’d gone deaf (12 years old or so) so we couldn’t progress in the titling program in ASCA because she couldn’t hear me.
Fury had grit. She was a true adventure dog. You’d got to the top of a cliff and she’d look over the edge or try to climb up to get you. One time she followed my then-friend-now-husband on a mountain bike ride that was over 35 miles. It wasn’t intentional, but she stuck to it.
She worked anything I asked, traditional stock, rabbits, chickens, whatever. We rounded up two rabbits on separate occasions that had gotten out of their hutches. Urban working at its best?
She liked absolutely nothing more than to work goats – I think because they fought like cattle but were more her size. We used to joke that she wanted to go out that way, and it’s also why I never really retired her from working when most would because it was her absolute favorite thing.
The funny bit was that she was definitely not a hunter. I’d be standing over a gopher hole and the gopher would be coming out and she’d just look at it. The only time she killed anything was when her daughter caught a squirrel for the first time and it was suffering. She went over and crunched it hard and put it out of it’s misery and Rippa never needed help again.
She worked with a LOT of Aussie eye. She wasn’t sticky and she wasn’t great at rating her stock, so she worked wide and fast. It was helpful that she was so biddable and responsive because she’d clap down nicely whenever I asked. I miss that quality in my dogs now. The BC people liked her more than my other dogs because of these qualities, but make no mistake, she didn’t work like a BC.
Being absolutely tiny (16 3/4″) she had to work a little intensely to move the cows but never had issues with it. At Nationals a judge said she was like a little bee – in and out, buzzing and biting. My mentor warned me that one day a cow would call her bluff so we had to be careful. She was slight, but she had heart and bite.
She was also really intuitive. I started teaching her to track because she would use her nose to find stock when we went to practice, more than other dogs. I think largely this is due to all the adventuring, she learned early on how to follow trails and when we went adventuring, I always knew to follow her if we got lost. She’s found my cell phone twice in a field.
She was also a biter. She did not have good human bite inhibition, I think largely because I didn’t know how to raise her and attempted to socialize her too young and ignored her warning signs about her comfort levels. Yes, inherently it started early so it was in her, but it could have been managed a lot better.
Why would I breed a biter? Because while some people say “temperament is everything” they say in the context of a pet dog being tractable in an urban environment. I learned I couldn’t leave her tied up because she was cute and everyone would pet her and she hated it. She was a tiny, adorable ranch dog – the kind of dog you see in Jay Sisler videos. And the kind of dog old folks wax about how awesome ol Shep was back in the day. She had something a lot of people wish they could experience, if they accepted what else came with it.
My dogs are not for everyone. I say it up front whenever anyone inquires. They’re a lot of dog. But she taught me that you can’t always fit in if you’re going to be exceptional.