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The History of The Australian Shepherd Club of America


Chapter VI:  The Original Stock Dog Program


The Stock Dog Committee Report that Douglas Bailey, who was the Stock Dog Chairman at the time the ASCA Yearbook was written (1957 - 1977 Twenty Years of Progress), wrote:  

"The Stock Dog Committee was formed in August 1973, to revise the existing stock dog program.  The object of the revision was to draft a program that was better suited to the working style of the Australian Shepherd."



The original program that existed at that time was nothing more than a rough draft of material. In Elsie Cotton's own words who was the ASCA Vice President acting as President (due to Gwen Stevenson's heart condition): 

"Steve phoned me and, during our conversation, asked me just what was being done on the Working Stockdog Certification.  I told him the horrible truth...that I had contacted the Sheepdog Societies and several people who had working stockdogs; had compiled a reasonably good file of information...and simply did not have the time to do anything else on this subject...and also that I doubted my own ability to do the correct job on any portion of it.  So Steve offered to help me...and I cheerfully dumped the entire thing on him.  I sent him the full file that I had, together with some rough notes that I had made."

Steve Stephenson was appointed Stockdog Certification Chairman. In a letter and in a report that appeared in the August 1972 issue of the Aussie Times (Vol. 4. No. 2) he wrote:

"Here is the progress that I have made to date: Everything but the trial rules is in the rough draft stages and, also, we must work out the actual Certificate.  The three categories were given strong thought so that no one could say that they couldn't get their dog certified.  Even the person who has only a small back yard can IF they are willing to put up with the mess of a few ducks and are willing to work hard with their dog."

He also said,

"The Inspector's Report is nearly identical to that of the Sheep Dog Societies; they have been doing this work for years and the form must be pretty good or they would have changed their format long before now.  Also, on ours, there are numerous blank spaces so the Inspector can fill in the type of livestock used.  This might help when a dog or pup is sold; in that, a man with cattle may not want a dog that was trained, or its ancestors trained, only on fowl, or vice versa.  And no proposed course was set up for the Certification of the 'Working Ranch Dog.'  I feel that most ranch dog owners will feel the same way.  The Ranch Dog should be judged on the work that he is doing every day."

In the Winter 1973 - 1974 issue of the Aussie Times Steve Stephenson wrote:

"We must all take our hats off the Stock Dog Fanciers from Colorado.  My bet is that the first certified dog will come from there.  They have had their first fun trial and from what I have heard it was pretty successful.  They are really working at it.  Look in your past issues of the Aussie Times, Colorado is also where most of the 'rule writing' help came from.  Hang in there, Colorado."

The Stock Dog Fanciers of Colorado hosted the first ever All-Breed Cattle, Sheep and Duck trial.  The trial was held at Jerry and Sharon Rowe's farm in Broomfield, Colorado. I was one of the judges.


Jerry and Sharon Rowe were highly instrumental in organizing the SDF trial.  In 1973, Mary McDonnell, who did publicity work for the group, wrote:

"Where else can a dog bred generations ago for herding of stock, find a place to work as it was intended to, if not through a club with these facilities?  We hope that while we can still use areas that accept stock, we will find more people striving to preserve a reasonable quality of herding instinct in our working breeds."  She also wrote: "Rowe's Commanche Warrior worked all three events, his gentleness with the ducks was quite impressive -- especially after seeing him be tougher with the cattle.  So ducks are not to be laughed about when it comes to herding training."

We invited Bob and Jean Carrillo to come see the trials.  It was from these humble beginnings that the actual Stock Dog Program was birthed.


Ernie Hartnagle & Bob Carrillo discussing the new Stock Dog Program
at the Historic Walker Ranch in the mountains above Boulder Colorado


Bob Carrillo was appointed Stock Dog Chairman at the First Annual ASCofA National Membership Meeting April 7, 1974 in Chatsworth, California.  Billie Jean Newman was President, Steve Stephenson, Vice President, Walter Lamar, Phillip Wildhagen and I were on the Board of Directors.


In a report that also appeared in the 1974 Spring, Aussie Times (Vol. 6. No. 1) in Notes from the ASCofA Stock Dog Chairman, he wrote this:

“Steve has been a great asset to ASCofA in getting recognition for the working dogs and forming the first plans that made it possible to get trials started."

In the same report he wrote:

"There will be no set size for the trial and training course.  It can fit at least one member's back yard in each affiliate club, and if the desire is great enough, I'm sure each club has enough funds to buy a few ducks and a few boards or panels to make up a standard course.  They will be training on the same course and with the same rules and no one will have an advantage.  The Aussie being a unique breed having both Headers and Heelers, required special consideration in setting up the course that would not favor either.


At the time of this writing, I cannot give a report on a shakedown run of my course and rules, as they are being followed as close as possible due to the local facilities at the Colorado Australian Shepherd Association Trial in Colorado, May 11, 1974."

Bob was invited to judge the trial, along with Carol Schmutz and Walter Lamar. Back in those days the judges paid all their own expenses (without reimbursement) to get the ASCofA Stock Dog Program off the ground.  Classes that were offered were Novice and Open Goats, Novice and Open Cattle, Novice and Open Poultry with a special Subnovice Poultry class that was worked on lead for people who had never worked stock before.


He continued to report:

 "As soon as possible after the trial, the Stock Dog Committee will get together to revise or change whatever is necessary.  When this course is tried and proven, as well as the judging score card, then it will be sent to the general membership."

Bob continued to write:  

"How are we going to retain all this inherited working ability in our breed?  We will have training schools for working dogs in centralized areas.  The ASCofA approved instructor will work with each handler and dog to make sure they understand how the dog should be trained for trials.  Our own new local club is the experimental group for the schooling part of the program.  All materials or instructions that you will receive will be tested on a cross section of dogs and should give us a norm.  I, personally have never had to use ducks to train a dog before, but after 25 years of working cattle dogs, doesn't mean that I can't learn along with the rest of the membership.  The ducks are to be a starting point and it is hoped that the larger animals will be able to handled because of the prior training.


The ASCofA Board has also considered my proposal for recognition of the accomplishment of each dog. A record of the dog's temperament and type of working style or type of dog, all information necessary for his transactions.  Hopefully, this will also bring the very good working dogs that we so badly need into the Registry.


As you see this is only the beginning. When you receive the approved and tried program, I hope you will be as enthusiastic as I am now.  We too are for Equal Opportunity for Aussies."

~ Ernie Hartnagle
© 2004 By Ernest Hartnagle


Copyright photos provided from the Hartnagle family archives.


Back to top of page


Chapter I:  ASCA During The Early Years


Chapter II:  Highlights - 1970 - 1972


Chapter III:  Highlights - 1972-1976


Chapter IV:  Highlights 1977 - 1979


Chapter V:  The Original Purpose of the ASCA Stock Dog Program


Chapter VI:  The Original Stock Dog Program


Chapter VII:  The Original Stock Dog Committee


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