Tara’s Lil Rippa STDcsd RV-N JV-N GV-N
WTCH Birch Hollow’s Habenero OFTDs RTDcs HRDIIs
DOB 12.26.2010 / ASCA #E166263
18″, 35# – She is not a mini.
Eyes clear, hips good (PennHIP), elbows good, cleared of CEA, cataracts, MDR1, PRA, carrier of degenerative myelopathy
I held off on breeding Fury for a long time. I wasn’t really sure what to do with her. There are some feelings here in the west coast that some of her line are not desirable because their pedigree may not be pure Aussie. I wasn’t sure if I should breed her because of it, I wasn’t sure if I should avoid those dogs, and I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do with her so I looked around for dogs I liked and considered it.
I talked to the person who got me started with working Aussies, Terry Martin, and she told me stories about the dogs and why she chose to breed to them even with their reputation. She told me, “I bred to those dogs because I liked how they worked and I liked their general type, not their pedigree.” This became more of a guiding point for me than anything. People like to chase names in pedigrees, but my goal has been to grab some pedigrees of unknown origin (I liked that Fury’s dam line had unfancy ranch dogs) that just come from using dogs. My theory is that if the dog is used on a ranch, it’s likely sound and a good worker – it’s tested.
I’d long had my eye on Rippa’s sire. As Terry said, I liked his general type and how he worked. He was heavier in all ways to Fury’s absolute reedy, tiny spriteliness and had a real calm way of working and general temperament that I thought would compliment what The Fury brought to the table, plus he wasn’t a total outcross. The idea would be that I concentrate the dogs that I liked down, add a little extra to balance out the cross and hopefully that would be a good base to take my breeding program next.
The litter was interesting for it being fairly tight linebreeding. There were two pups just like Fury, two slower energy, and two right in the middle. I took one in the middle though it pained me to not take Fury 2.0. I learned my lesson hard about really making sure people could handle my pups because while she was my favorite, she got returned after four weeks in her new home and she was a mess. Unfortunately she got rehomed a number of times because I believed people could handle her and they couldn’t. I realize now that I underestimate my skill with dogs and she was just a lot more than the average person could manage. It’s funny – had she gone to a working home that kenneled her, you’d never have known it. How you manage high drive and sharp dogs makes a huge difference. Rippa improved on Fury’s temperament in that she’s a little creepy to people, but she has bit inhibition. She’ll let you know she does not approve if you give her vibes or you’re in our house, but she won’t do anything other than bump you to warn you. Management works.
She’s got some hard eye and real power and bite in her toolbox. Prefers heading (poll vs nose) and has enough power that heeling isn’t usually necessary, but she applies it judiciously on occasion, does not have a real stylish low heel, but she doesn’t get into trouble with it as it’s still on the hock. Has the ability to back off and stand off her stock as well. Natural driver and fetcher. Works tight and has a solid sense of group. She really, really hates leaving stock behind.
She figures out chores quickly and prefers them to the rigid command and small herd numbers of the trial environment. As long as she knows what you’re trying to do, she gets the job done largely on her own but takes commands well when needed – great little pen and chore dog for sure. She’s exactly the kind of dog I was hoping to produce.
She minds her manners but doesn’t like strangers imposing on her, especially rude, friendly dogs. After you let her have some time to warm up, she will leap into your lap and lick you to death (she gets this from her mom) or paw your face (we do not love this). She has an amazing off switch and is pretty happy hanging out, waiting for you to need her.
As she’s gotten older, she’s really turned into a ball and frisbee dog – I got pregnant and couldn’t work so she applied her drive there. She’s a great rodent catcher, as well. We did agility for a little bit but she never liked trialing. She gets real excited on our home obstacles but the pressure of the trial just slows her way down. Same with trialing – she gets pretty intimidated by the big arenas and my nervous handling and doesn’t work nearly as well as at home (big surprise, right?) and I just never got the miles in to be successful there.
Rippa’s been everything I hoped she would be but unfortunately life got in the way and I couldn’t get her started or worked properly. As she got older, I decided to send her to Sherry Baker to see what she could make of her – was she as good as I thought she was, just handicapped by me? The answer was yes – that she was every bit as good as Sherry’s Best cowdog (she told me) but with a novice handler. That was when I was ready to breed her. By that point she was 8 so it was her one and only litter.
Her litter produced two really amazing puppies – but unfortunately we are choosing not to breed her again because she developed eclampsia. You can see the son we kept back on his page, the other lives with Rick Hardin of Hardin’s Aussie in Georgia.
And let’s talk about some of my favorite stories about why she’s a memorable dog:
One of my favorites is that she is a bull when she needs to be. I have a cat and she does not particularly care for it. They keep a distance from one another but respect eachother. The cat comes with my family everywhere. We’re at a school a couple blocks from our place and I see a dog coming up off leash. I call out to the owner, “Hey, my cat is here, can you get your dog?” but as soon as I finished, the dog had spotted the cat and was after her.
Rippa didn’t think twice, she went full speed and bodyslammed that dog, who was probably twice her size. Didn’t even think to use teeth because she wasn’t trying to fight him, she just wanted him to stop. It was impressive.
There’s the time my husband was backpacking in the sierra forest and she disappeared for 20 minutes. He was stressing it, but then here she comes, with three cows in tow.
She has this weird thing about being a therapy pet. If she thinks you are remotely distressed she puts all her weight on you.
She’s also the most ace varmint killer there is. My neighbor came over to tell me that opossums were raiding my chicken coop while my dog was at Sherry Bakers. When we got home from picking her up, I literally opened the door and the opossum was dispatched. She’s also tag teamed my cat – who had young rat and was toying with it and she was NOT having it so she went over and crunched it dead.
One of my fondest memories was back when we were working on a 40,000 acre ranch and it was just a field of ground squirrels. The owners liked her squirreling so we let her out of the truck to hunt while we drove along and I catch her flinging this squirrel probably 10 feet in the air and catching it again. It was amazing.
I’ve had the opportunity to take Rippa with me to get new stock, lambs and such and she does such a nice job of being gentle when it’s appropriate. We have some bottle rams that are very friendly and I needed her to get tough on them so we didn’t have to worry about them getting fresh and she genuinely felt bad about it, making “I’m sorry” noises while she corrected them for not moving off her. She happily coexists with them as they follow me around the pasture, but will get after them if I ask her to. She keeps me safe.
Here’s a gallery of our last big hurrah, 2019 ASCA Nationals. We took home a lot of blue ribbons and qualified in everything except stock (which is kind of hilarious but goes to show you that trialing and being a good workin’ dog are different things). I guess I gotta go get a CD title for her so we can finish that up.