My now ex-husband Ron grew up moving from town to town with his family, droving cattle and working horses. They always had koolies, and swore by them as the only working dog worth feeding. Jack (Ron's dad) had a thousand great working dog stories, all about his koolies. When we first met, Ron's companion and working dog was Smokey. She was 'half' koolie, and half Qld blue heeler, but had the merle colouring, and the big white colour/chest/feet that some koolies have.
I'd never seen a koolie before, and was fascinated with her. She was truly a 'one man dog' and wouldn't acknowledge anyone else other than her owner, but - I called her, and she actually came to me, so that was when Ron decided that I was worth hanging on to!
After we married, and moved out to a cattle property at Roma, we decided that Smokey was such a good bitch, that she should be bred to a good koolie dog.
So, at the time that our first son was 12 mths old (1990) we bought Shadow .. got him from a breeder near Isisford, and they sent him out to us at Roma on the train.
He was a great pup, and took to working straight away .. he was fast, and a natural lead dog. My husband worked him on cattle mostly, and before long he was the number one choice, when you needed to take out a good dog to do a good days work.
Even though he was an outstanding working dog, his real value to us was as a companion to our son Matt. Matt had ADHD, and from age 2 could climb anything, had no fear, and would take off all the time. He twice wandered off when our backs were turned. Both times, we found him in the paddocks, because of the white tip on Shadows tail.
Shadow would never leave his side, and I'm sure kept him safe until we could find him.
The first time he wandered off, was on a property at Theodore. It was a lazy 30 000 acres, and Matt had crossed a small creek before we caught up with him. Both he and the dog were dripping wet, both with big wide grins on their faces ... boy and dog having an 'adventure' together.
The second time was outside of Gympie, we'd just returned from town, and had let Matt into the backyard to play while we unpacked the truck. Someone had been into the yard while we were gone, and left the back gate open .. off shoots Matt again
(luckily with dog trailing along behind) and we found him heading for the highway after traversing a dam. Again, it was the flash of white on the tip of Shadows tail which saved the day.
Shadow was extremely faithful to the family. He slept on the back of the truck (didn't want to miss out on going to work) and once, when Ron felt sorry for him, because of a lack of work, he loaned him to a mate to use. Well, the mate drove right up to the forestry with him, before stopping to open a gate - but the moment he stopped, Shadow slipped his collar hightailing it home, and was back before the mate had even gotten to the paddock, and realised he was down one dog!
He was tough too. When he was about 4 yrs old he went down with paralysis tick. When we found him under the house, he'd already gone completely in the back legs and couldn't move. We rushed him to town, to the vet, who told us that once a dog is
that far gone the chances of a recovery were slim. Ron said "you just give him the drugs, he'll do the rest"; and he was right. Twenty-four hours later Shadow was up and moving around. The vet said to "Keep him quiet for 2 weeks" to prevent a relapse, but as we walked out the door of the vet surgery, Shadow trotted up to the truck, sprung onto the back! The vet was amazed, saying that he "shouldn't be able to do that for at least a few days".
When he was bored, he'd 'work the guinea pigs' by eyeing them through the side of their cage, and would even try to get to the front of birds flying over-head. He was supremely confident in his ability to work anything at all, and there was nothing he couldn't get to the front of. He needed at least 100 acres just to stretch his legs, and could clear a fence, even with one front foot hooked up in his collar to slow him down. My dad (a city slicker) was convinced there was money to be made, if we could just get him onto a greyhound track .. He was a really special dog, and earned his keep 10 times over, both as a working dog, and as a companion.