What We Are
Well, first of all - we're Australian Shepherds. We're an extremely ATTRACTIVE dog - mostly long haired with a bob-tail that we call 'docked'. Each Aussie's coat and eye color vary a lot. It isn't uncommon for some of us to have one blue eye or one that is half blue and half brown. Now THAT'S weird, eh? Well, to ME it is - since MY eyes are both the prettiest PINK you've ever seen! (More on that one later...)
If it's one thing an Aussie loves - it's herding! ANYTHING will do too - anything from cats to pups to sheep to horses to PEOPLE! We just love herding. It keeps things in balance somehow. Maybe we're a little bit OCD, but that's the way we are. And, if I don't say so myself - we make the best pets EVER! We love people - though we might be just a little shy at first meetings. And we LOVE kids too! We're just loving pups - that's all there is to that!
Now that name might suggest that we come from AUSTRALIA - but we don't. Nope - we're from right here in the great U.S. of A! Here's what I know about how the Australian Shepherd came to be:
It was somewhere around 1875 that Basque sheep herders began to come to America - and they brought with them their sheep dogs. (They're brilliant - these Basque sheep herders!) These Basque peoples come originally from Europe - from an area right along the border of France and Spain. The Basque people were used to mountains because the Pyrenees Mountains run right through their land! They had to have been some pretty stong people to survive, and so were their dogs. Guess it's a good thing - or we wouldn't be here!
Well, when these Basque sheep herders came to America with their dogs, they worked on ranches with sheep and horses and such. After a while, their sheep dog breed became the Australian Shepherd. I know - still doesn't add up - but I didn't write the history books! I guess we COULD have just as easily become the BASQUE SHEPHERDS - but then again - no one would be sure how to pronounce BASQUE, and I might have ended up being nicknamed 'the Basket Case'.
By the way - BASQAUE is pronounced....BASK. Just so ya know.
Now, I'm going to try to explain the different types of Aussies by our colors. There are actually FOUR colors/patterns that the great and almighty AKC recognizes, and to THEM we don't exist at all - Allicks and I, that is. The AKC ONLY recognizes these:
BLACKs: These can be ALL Black, Black and White (bi-colored), or Black and White with some Brown 'trim' (tri-colored). They're beautiful dogs, that's for sure! Sometimes people get them and Border Collies mixed up - but then again - that's PEOPLE for ya!
The next color that is AKC recognized is called The BLUE MERLE. ('Merle' is pronounced 'merl' unless you're from the deep south maybe.) Now these dogs have a jet black coat that is 'marbled' with some gray. Or they might have white coloring with the black AND/or gray, and maybe some copper color 'points'. But whatever else they ARE - their nose, lip and eye leather will be BLACK. My nose, lip and eye leather is PINK - so obviously no one mistakes ME for a BLUE MERLE!
The REDs might be a chocolate color - or a real pretty sorrel red color. They might be a solid red, or they might be red and white with some copper color 'points' and red with white trim and some copper 'points'. (These 'points' aren't like those you get when you score in a game. They're really things like right above the eye brow, or right around the mouth and such. So don't get excited about having the most points - it just doesn't work that way with us!) And on the RED dogs - the nose, lip and eye leather is dark red. No pink stuff there either!
The RED MERLE is different than the ones called 'RED'. Here's how...though they both will have a rich chocolate to dark sorrel base color, these RED MERLEs have some silver coloring or a buff coloring marbled in their coloring. Maybe the pictures that I've included will help you out some. I know how hard it is for HUMANS to understand sometimes.
These first beauties are BLACKs. You see? They don't have to be ALL black to be BLACKs at all! It's some weird way that HUMANS confuse HUMANS I think! But you have to admit - they are some beauties!!!
Next we have the BLUE MERLEs. You see the difference now? They can sometimes look like someone dumped some paint on them when they didn't see it coming!
Now let's look at the REDs. They are probably MY favorite of THESE RECOGNIZED COLORS/PATTERNS! Although I'm partial to WHITEs, I DO like the look of the REDs. (I suppose you're wondering how I know the difference? Well, even us BLIND DOGS can SEE BEAUTY!) You can see where SOME HUMANS mistake a RED with a COLLIE! What can I say? Humans can be slow learners at times!
And now - the RED MERLEs. They are something to behold, aren't they? They truly do stand out in the crowd at the dog shows! And why not? They're gorgeous! Not WHITE, but everyone can't be perfect!
What the wonderful AKC DOESN'T recognize? The WHITEs, of course! And that really burns me the wrong way, I'll tell ya!
After all - we're ALL registered Australian Shepherds!
We're ALL beautiful!
We're ALL fantastic herders and pets!
And WE didn't get a choice in what we look like anyway!
The BREEDERS! That's WHO!
And WHO runs the AKC?
Humm...now even to a blind/deaf WHITE pup - this is all starting to smell sort of...feline to me!
There are reasons for the coloring and the color patterns in dogs. Much the same as in HUMANS! And it all comes down to the GENE POOL! This isn't something to cool off in on a hot summer's day either - it's something BIG...REAL BIG!
An Aussie, like a human, is born carrying genes from parents, grandparents, and so on.
In the Aussie world though, the genes being carried are either a type 'm' or a type 'M'.
I know...this doesn't mean much at all to you humans maybe, but to us, it means lots!
Type 'm' is called 'solid'.
Type 'M' is called 'merle'.
Both 'the small m' and 'the BIG M' are things we call 'genes'.
What are genes?
You know how some of you humans have black hair and some have brown hair while others are 'blondes' or 'red-heads'?
Well there's something inside you that decides what color of hair or eyes or skin you are born with. Those 'things' are called 'genes', and they're passed on to you from your mom and dad, grandma and grandpa, and even as far back as your great, great, great grandparents!
You don't even have to know the person for you to be like them in some way.
That's because their 'genes' are passed down through the generations to YOU!
This is true too in the DOG WORLD!
What MY dad looks like has something to do with how I look.
And what my MOM acted like as a pup, might be how I acted like when I was little. That's how those 'genes' work!
Every Australian Shepherd carries within itself two things called 'alleles', which are DNA codes. One of the two alleles comes from the MOM and one from the DAD.
The scientists call the alleles one of two things:
'M' - which stands for the 'merling gene',
or 'm'- which stands for the 'solid gene'.
Now we've already learned the difference between MERLEs and SOLIDs - right?
If you need to revisit earlier paragraphs, I'll understand.
I'll wait right here for you to catch up!
Ok - now since these 'M&m's come ONE FROM EACH PARENT, it stands to reason that we pups will have ONE OF THESE THREE OPTIONS when these M&ms get together.
We'll either be 'mm's (SOLIDs), 'Mm's (MERLEs), or 'MM's (WHITES).
So - I guess we Whites ARE recognized after all!
Sometimes we're also called 'Double Merles' - which just means that we have TWO MERLE alleles or genes.
And, now that we know that EVERY Aussie has THE BIG M AND the little m IN THEIR GENE POOL - AND WE GET A GENE FROM EACH PARENT - IT'S UNDERSTANDABLE NOW THAT SOME OF US ARE 'MM's - RIGHT?
That would be fine and dandy IF it was fine and dandy!
We pups that ended up with the MM gene are most usually blind and most usually deaf as well. That's one thing to compensate, but the fact is - it's the BREEDER - (the one who is responsible...or irresponsible as the case may be) to blame - NOT US!
Yet, WE'RE the ones who end up killed by thatVERY BREEDER who helped create us in the first place!
See why I get riled up when I'm talking about this?
It's VERY personal to me and to Allicks, since WE were born with the MM genes - which is why we're both blind and I'm deaf!
That's all right with us, I guess.
We can handle it.
But what gripes the heck out of ME is that MY BREEDER was planning to KILL me BECAUSE of it!
Now tell me that doesn't take NERVE!
You see, there are those certain BREEDERS who see the DOLLAR SIGNS in their puppies.
Everyone needs a business and raising puppies is a wonderful one to choose.
But ONLY FOR RESPONSIBLE BREEDERS.
MY breeder was NOT responsible at all - except for the deaths of puppies.
I was to be 'hit in the head' myself, but my breeder's wife rescued me - sending me all the way from Wyoming to South Carolina to the home I have now.
And the reason he was going to kill me?
I was WHITE!
That's right - I WAS WHITE.
WHITE AND BLIND AND DEAF and WORTHLESS to a man selling dogs!
WHITEs are sometimes ALSO called LETHALS.
And can you can figure out why!
It's amazing to even a blind/deaf pup like myself how cruel humans can be when they want to be!
A professional breeder KNOWS that - if he/she breeds a MERLE with a MERLE - the pups stand a chance of ending up with one MERGLE gene from BOTH PARENTS - making them MMs...making them WHITE...making them BLIND..making them DEAF.
About 1/4th of ALL DOUBLE MERLE BREEDINGS END UP WHITEs.
And still - some breeders do it?
Why? Does he really ENJOY killing us?
Does that make him feel high and mighty or something?
It's amazing to me, and to lots of GOOD humans out there and GOOD Breeders who wouldn't think of purposefully breeding TWO MERLES together.
And to add insult to injury - there are some VETs out there who firmly believe that WHITEs should be PUT DOWN because...are you ready for this...it's INHUMANE to LET THEM LIVE!
Now I'm not the sharpest knife in the drawer, but even I can see something wrong with THAT philosophy!
INHUMANE TO LIVE?
What kind of VET school did THEY attend?
Living is what I enjoy best! And they think it's INHUMANE to allow that?
Don't get me started!
LOTS of things can happen as a result of IRRESPONSIBLE BREEDING practices.
SO - for all those BREEDERS out there who really, REALLY want to learn how to RESPONSIBLY BREED YOUR DOGS- here's something that might help. 1: 1 SOLID(mm) + 1 SOLID(mm) = 100% SOLID(mm)
2: 1 SOLID(mm) + 1 MERLE(Mm) = (50%MERLE(Mm) + 50% SOLID(mm))
3: 1 MERLE(Mm) + 1 MERLE(Mm) = (50%MERLE(Mm) + 25%SOLID(mm) + 25% LETHAL WHITE(MM))
Does that help?
NO MORE BREEDING MERLE TO MERLE!
For any REASON - for ANY reason!
I'm going to sign off now and relax.
This has been much too stressful for me!
But my buddy and pal Allicks is going to take over now and explain the OTHER things that can happen when BREEDERS are IRRESPONSIBLE!
Thanks for reading - and learning!
Gabriel (Deaf/BlindPup) Anderson
WHAT ALL CAN GO WRONG WHEN THE BREEDING ISN'T RIGHT
When it comes to DOGS, Gabriel and I think that we might just be experts!
And when it comes to LETHAL WHITEs - we KNOW we are!
Gabriel and I are both blind. We've covered that already. Gabriel's also deaf. Both the blindness and deafness are results from the DOUBLE MERLE BREEDING practice.
MY situation was much different than Gabe's. My parents didn't know what would happen - until they set their eyes on that one beautful white pup that was later named Allicks.
They had a lot to learn and learn fast in order to keep me from becoming some statistic - and they did - along with Momma Karen - our Human.
They read just about everything they could get their PAWs on.
I guess I owe my HIGHLY INTELLIGENT ways to THEM!
When there IS a double-merle breeding that takes place, lots of things happen that shouldn't happen. There's enough things that can happen to you just because you're an Australian Shepherd - we don't need more to worry about!
Here's a list of some things that can crop up on an Aussie - WHITE or otherwise.
Be sure you all get your humans to screen you for these things - it can be pretty ugly if you don't!
ANOPHTHALMIA: This is a total absence of the eye! Who'd want THAT? There's a thing called 'small eye' - but this is a worse version of that.
COLLIE EYE ANOMALY (CEA): This is one of those 'blanket terms' used to describe all sorts of eye disorders - including Irish Colobomas, detatched retinas, 'small eye' and optic disk colobomas. These things tend to appear together and are common in the Collie too, but exist in Aussies and other collie breeds. It's belived to be controlled by a genetic cluster - or large group of genes (that gene thing again), and ranges in severity from mild impairment to total and complete blindness!
DETATCHED RETINAs: This is the separation of the retina from its vascular base. It causes a partial loss of vision. It's hereditary - so do some geneology searches through old medical records!
PROGRESSIVE RETINAL ATROPHY (PRA): This is common in many breeds - not just us. But it HAS been found in Aussies, so I didn't want to leave it out. It affects the entire retina and is the canine equivalent of RETINITIS PIGMENTOSA that humans can get. This disease is usually detectable at a really young age - as young as 6 weeks! Pups may be blind by six to eight months because of this - and a full ophthalmologic examination by an ACVO-certified VET should be able to identify cases - so what are you waiting for?? All dogs affected with PRA eventually go blind. ALL DOGS - not just the unlucky ones. So don't mess around with it. Symptoms are subtle - starting with a night blindness, some eye dilation, progressing to complete blindness. It's quite common NOT to notice anything wrong at all until you're blind or almost blind. You can get some genetic tests done - it identifies the carrier of the disease.
SMALL EYE is also called MICROPHTHLALMIA - and it means that the eye or eyes are smaller than normal and is some sort of genetic thing as well. Gabriel has this and when you see his eyes - his PINK EYES - you'll notice that they're different than..other PINK EYES - they're smaller. His head grew - his eyes didn't. It's that simple. This one is one that seems to predominantly like WHITEs - and comes with the territory of being a DOUBLE MERLE offspring. Yet ANOTHER reason to NOT BREED MERLE TO MERLE! And this doesn't only affect LETHAL WHITE AUSSIES either - it also affects the DOUBLE MERLE offspring in Shelties, Collies, and Great Danes.
While we're talking here, let's also discuss something else.
Not an especially BEAUTIFUL topic, but an important one.
And here's why...
IVERMECTIN (& HEARTGUARD) is ESPECIALLY DANGEROUS to some Australian Shepherds and Miniature Aussies as well.
Many of us are sensitive to Ivermectin - whether it's a SINGLE worming treatment OR in a lower dosage as a HEARTWORM preventive sold under the brand name of: HEARTGUARD. Ivermectin affects the central nervous system if you're toxic to it, causing depression, excitability, seizures, loss of muscle control, drooling, coma, or even death!
BE SURE YOUR HUMAN READS THIS - IVERMECTIN AND HEARTGUARD - BOTH ARE DANGEROUS TO MANY OF US!
Something else that we can have problems with is alliergies to fleas!
Chronic Flea Allergies and excessively dry skin have appeared in certain lines of breeds. Inheritance is simple co-dominant and breeders are always being advised to use caution to avoid perpetuating the problem.
For FLEA ALLERGY SUFFERING DOGS - CONSIDER using PROGRAM - combined with a topical Flea preventive. And don't be afraid to ask a VET! OR even a pharmacist! They know their medications, ya know!!!
Other than blindness - another thing that WHITEs like Gabriel ended up with is deafness, and I think we'd better try to explain just why deafness is associated with LETHALs and DOUBLE MERLING!
Even though I can hear perfectly fine, Gabriel is deaf. Because Gabriel is blind and deaf, our Momma Karen has had to learn lots about how to help him by teaching humans how to treat him.
For one thing, you don't want to just walk up and touch or pet a dog who can't see or hear you coming. That startles us just like it would if we would sneak up behind you and suddenly bark really, really loud!
To help dogs like Gabriel and me, our humans sometimes make or buy an apron-style sign to put on us telling people that 'HEY YOU! This dog can't see OR hear, so don't even THINK about startling this dog!'...or something similar.
Why are some of us born deaf?
One thing to understand is that having an EAR actually means we have THREE EARS: the External Ear (which is on the outside), the Middle Ear (which is on the inside, but not that far inside) , and the Internal Ear (which is deep inside). Each of these EARS have an important job to do.
The Outer Ear and the Middle Ear share two jobs: they are both 'the Collectors' and 'the Conveyors'. The Outer Ear looks and acts like a funnel - collecting and funneling the vibrations to the Middle Ear.
The Middle Ear has quite the operation going. It takes vibrations from the Outer Ear, and conveys..or sends..them floating down a river of a special fluid that is found in the Inner Ear.
The Inner Ear is where the final steps are taken to make SOUND out of VIBRATIONS. It's like there are little tiny loudspeakers hidden in there! Sensory Hair Cells are THE critters that make all the difference! They move back and forth and from side to side and have a sort of magnetic quality about them, feeding the sensory nerves with 'messages' that they can then send to the brain. BUT the hair cells must have the pigment cell in order for the magnetic trick to work. If the nerves dont't get fed, they shrink up and die. Without the nerves, the message of SOUND will never reach the brain.
No pigment cell = no message= no hearing.
Yes, I'm lucky to hear, but Gabriel isn't so lucky. He's never heard a single noise (that he can remember). Not one. Some pups are born with hearing and then lose the hearing later on, when the 'sound nerves' die. Puppy Doctors say that once a 'white' gets six months old, few changes will come along. So if we hear when we're six-months old, chances are good that we won't lose our hearing.
Some of you are probably feeling sorry for us since we aren't 'normal'.
Don't feel bad for us. We can still have a really happy life!
Imagine for a minute that you fell down and broke your arm.
Just because you couldn't catch with both paws...sorry...HANDS, doesn't mean you can't have fun does it? NO. You can still walk and run and hide behind trees and talk and eat and laugh. You just have an arm that you can't use for a while.
Some humans don't have arms at all and they're still happy people.
They might be 'different' than most, but they're still PEOPLE, right?
Well, in the world WE live in, some people think that puppies who are 'whites' can never be happy being blind and/or deaf, so they get rid of us.
The best of them make sure we have good homes with humans who are patient and caring enough to help us when we need it. But there are others out there who aren't as nice. Some people actually kill us just because we're 'different'.
They think we're useless and worthless.
Every year (my guess is) probably hundreds and thousands of puppies die just because they were 'whites'. Over hundreds of thousands are put to sleep due to over-population of the pet world too - so GET YOURSELVES TO THE VET FOR A SPAY AND/OR NEUTER!
Thank heavens for people like Karen and her friends in the World of White Aussies!
They are educating people on just how smart and lovable we 'Lethal Whites' really are!
We make wonderful pets!
We're as loyal as any other respectable Dog.
We're able to learn 'touch commands' and tricks - well enough to win THIRD PLACE in the BEST TRICK catagory at a recent show!
(I'm bragging on Gabriel now - he won THIRD PLACE and has the papers to prove it!)
And this is probably the most wondrous thing - as far as humans are concerned - we're able to run like crazy ALL through our houses without running into the first piece of furniture...unless our humans trick us by MOVING things around.
How do we do it?
We 'map' out the area, and then we remember the 'mapping'. Sounds tougher than it is. For us, it's really pretty easy, but I know humans aren't as good at this, so don't try running around blindfolded. You're sure to fall over something and break a leg!
Although we love people - even the little ones - we can be quite a handful to raise. Remember - we can't see. Some (like Gabriel) can't hear.
The people we choose to own HAVE to be patient!
They HAVE to be ready for some messes now and then.
They HAVE to be willing to spend extra time pampering us.
They HAVE to be able to afford the Doctor Bills because we sometimes have trouble and have to see the Dog Doctor.
And my favorite qualification...they HAVE to provide lots and lots of hugs and kisses!
I hope you've learned something about the 'Lethal Whites'!
One of these days, we hope there aren't any 'lethals' born at all - not because we're BAD - but we hope to educate EVERYONE on RESPONSIBLE BREEDING PRACTICES.
That way - no one will breed merle-to-merle in the first place - FOR ANY REASON.
Until then, we will continue to educate the ignorant and the misunderstanding ones out there who are producing - some MASS-PRODUCING 'whites'. One of these days, you might be lucky enough to live with one of our kind. Even a short visit to one of our homes will show you how wondrously miraculous we can be.
We'll play with you.
We'll let you hug and kiss us.
And if you stay all night - we might even curl up beside you in bed!
You'll smile more. Everyone says so.
Sometimes you'll even LAUGH.
Especially when you watch us try to sniff out that pesky CAT that shares our oxygen! You'll see that we're no different that any other dog really.
We're just as smart...just as beautiful...just as loving...
It's been said that we enrich our human's lives.
It's been said that they actually 'sprout wings and fly'.
Not sure just how they do that, but it's got to be a strange sight to behold!
What I know is that we're able to bring into their lives what life sometimes cheats them out of.
We can make them smile when they're down.
We can make them laugh through tears.
THAT is the greatest feeling!
And THAT is the MAGICAL WORLD OF THE 'LETHAL WHITE'!
LEARN MORE ABOUT "WHITES" & "PATTERN WHITES" by clicking on this URL: http://www.ashgi.org/color/white_aussies.htm and see for yourself some photos of 'whites'.....we're all beautiful...you'll love it!
You can just check out THESE photos of Gabriel & me posing for the camera!