Written by: Tessa Ridley Ormaechea
Photo Taken by: Andrew Ridley Ormaechea
A few years ago, my parents took my brother, sister and I on a little drive out in the farm lands of Langley, British Columbia. Moans and groans always follow the offer of such an excursion, but we had just frequented mass and figured if we gave in, maybe we’d be treated to lunch, or even ice cream. The weather was warm, pleasant surroundings rolled past us. Picket fences and green hills waved us on, until we reached a little sign on the side of the road that said “Australian Shepherd Puppies in the Back.” My dad stopped the car, and we all rushed to the back yard of some strangers home to look at puppies.
There was no intention what so ever to purchase an animal, but everyone loves puppies. The owners where in the front yard tending to a “broke down” pick up truck, and my parents inquired about where we should go to see the dogs. They pointed to a large wired fenced kennel where three fluffy sheep looking dogs bounced around. The woman of the house came out from their back door and opened the kennel so the puppies could come out. They were so adorable, full of energy and a total highlight of the day.
I assume something in one of them struck all of us more than any of the others, for she was the one that we all flocked to. She was the runt of the litter, a little more bubbly than the other two, but equally as beautiful. My siblings and I asked our parents what the chances were of us getting the dog, and it looked as though they had already made up their mind. My mom went to a near by corner store and got $400 dollars out of the savings account and we paid for our wonderful purebred Australian Shepherd puppy. This was surely going to be something exciting and new.
It is thought that the Basque people are credited with the development of the Australian Shepherd’s ancestors. When we purchased the dog, we had next to no information on the Basque culture, even though my mother’s family carries the blood. Over the last couple years we have all been “schooled” on our background and found it quite interesting that even our dog had a tie to this culture. Many Australian historians believe that the modern Aussie Shepherd is the descendant of the Basque Sheepdogs that went to Australia, and then to North America. It is also known that the Basque raised dogs that were in demand, enough to have them frequently imported from Spain in the 1800’s. Who would’ve thought?
We named our dog Blaze, and she has become an important part of our family. About a year ago, an ad in newspaper said that an Aussie Shepherd was in need of a home, and we decided to add another one of these dogs to our already growing crew. Now Blaze has a sister, named Remy, and they have fun running around out backyard, going out for walks and spending time with everyone. It’s bizarre what culture and ancestry does to not only human minds, but also the minds of dogs. When we take the dogs for walks, Remy unconsciously herds us, going in front of us and coming back around to the other side, to keep us in line. These things aren’t taught to the animal we have found. The animal’s brain in programmed to do such things. Perhaps the Basques are to be thanked for such discipline? Who knows? What I know for sure, is that some force brought us to our puppy that day, oh so long ago… and has since then strengthened our roots and understanding of our beautiful culture.