Saturday, February 28, 2015

WTH is Brockle?

Death of the Yeti

I messed up Brockle's DNA test and had to do it again. 
Here's one last look.
Cast your votes on what breeds have joined to create this beast.
Prizes for the closest guess.
Write up your thoughts in the comments.
I'm posting my guess next weekend, after you guys have made your picks.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Cold Weather Care

Sometimes I wonder if Colorado is the colic capitol of the world. This time of year is the worst. Starting in February or so, temperatures fluctuate like crazy.
This month we had a high of 64 degrees on Valentines Day, and this morning it was 3 degrees.

This is not unusual weather around these parts.

Mort was a notorious weather change colic-er. If the temp changed more than 40 degrees in a 12 hour period, he would colic. It could go up or down and he'd react. Once he started showing symptoms he was in trouble. He always pulled through but it took a call to the vet most of the time. I gave him two hours of walking and then would call.

I learned to keep hay in front of him 24/7 when severe weather was predicted. It cut his colic episodes by at least 50%.

In my thirties our horses lived on my husbands family ranch. They had 1200 acres of high quality mountain pasture. I didn't have a single incident of colic. Mountain lions, bears and barbwire, but no colic.

My first job as a full time trainer and riding instructor was at a small boarding and breeding facility 20 minutes up the pass, in Green Mountain Falls. We had a lot of colic. I mean a shitload. After my vet admitted he was called to our barn more than any other for colic I started searching for reasons. Our horses had excellent care. Their water buckets were always full, they were fed like clock work and the barn was meticulous.

One thing stood out. The horses were fed a large amount of complete feed and one flake of hay, 2x a day. They were all bright eyed, shiny and maintained a great weight.

I started to research the feed requirements for a healthy horse. Horses have miles of intestines jammed into their inefficient bellies. They can't throw up. Poop is really important. What makes a horse poop? Roughage. Anywhere from 15 to 30 pounds (alfalfa vs. grass) of it per day. I started feeding my horses an all hay lunch. My colic incidents became fewer, but there were still too many.

Sonita was the worst. Loki would colic, but not as often Sonita. Annie, my old mare, never had a problem.

I started my education in colic by studying poop. Sonita's manure was small, hard and infrequent. Loki's was average. Annie dropped huge, grassy piles. I mean, you'd a thought there was an elephant living with her.

Adding more hay created bigger, looser poop. Sonita's were still dry and hard and her colic incidents were high. I kept asking questions. The B.O. told me she drank very little water. On average less than five gallons a day. Loki was good for almost two buckets or ten gallons a day. Annie lived outside in a pen with a creek and had free access.

I had learned to water Sonita out of white or yellow buckets when we went to shows. If she couldn't see the bottom she wouldn't drink. Her bucket at the barn was dark green. I switched out her bucket and she started to drink like a normal horse. Then, I added an extra water bucket so they had ten gallons available at all times.

My colic issues dropped again, but still were statistically higher than normal. Several years later I learned that recent city expansion upstream had turned the beautiful creek that supplied water to my stable into a polluted mess. I have come to the conclusion that water quality was the primary problem.

I never completely solved my colic issues at that barn, but by the time I switched to another facility I put my hard earned colic education to use. I reduced my complete feed, doubled their hay and made sure each horse had constant access to a clean, half barrel (thirty gallons) of water. I checked our water source to be confident in the quality. I had a few minor incidents of colic during my time there. Annie was kept on pasture. Again, she was colic free.

After a three year stint I went to work with the Big K. My education really intensified there. We had four barns with a total of 30 stalls. We also had kind of a catch-all -- an open pen with shelter for babies, horses out of training, rejects, etc. There were anywhere from two to ten head at any given time. Then there was a herd of six buffalo, and anywhere from 10 to 20 head of cattle.

We watered out of tanks, tubs and buckets. We did not have heaters and Eastern Colorado is windy and cold in the winter.

Colic was extremely rare at K's place. We were crazy ice choppers. Horses drank just fine as long as their water was ice free. The cattle were like the horses. They wanted clean, ice free water. The buffs didn't care. Don't get me wrong, all animals in our care deserve clean water, but I think the buffs would be cool with sucking dirty ice out of each other's beards.

The biggest difference was the amount of hay we fed. We kept them knee deep in hay. Hard keepers and horses in heavy training were supplemented, but many horses ate nothing but hay.

I started to feed my own horses a combination of alfalfa and free choice grass. They had thirty gallon tubs and individual salt blocks. My colic dropped to zero.

Over the years I have noticed a few things. Anxious, crabby and depressed horses colic more than calm, happy horses. It can be their nature or their life style, but how a horse sees the world affects their digestion.

Regular exercise keeps the hay running through them.

Being able to eat small amounts of roughage 24/7 keeps a healthier gut than large feedings a few times a day. Alfalfa is calorie dense so I don't free feed it. Ideally, I like to feed alfalfa twice a day and slow feed grass all of the time. I don't grain or supplement my horses at all. I make sure their hay is top notch, they have salt and clean water. They are gorgeous, have all the energy and stamina I could ever need and have been healthy for a very long time (yes, I am knocking frantically on wood).

The last place I trained out of had pasture, pens and stalls, depending on the situation.

The absolute healthiest horses I have ever known are horses on quality pasture. They need a wind break, access to feed in inclement weather, clean water and salt. They graze and travel all day. They are living like a horse should and colic only comes if the grass is poor, water is scarce or dirty, the ground is wormy or another illness creates the symptoms.

If my horses don't have a free choice hay situation, when bad weather comes, I bury them in grass hay. An eating horse is warm, an eating horse gets thirsty and drinks, an eating horse is digesting. Water heaters are wonderful. I want the water cool, not cold, or warm. If I don't have them, then I want all of the ice removed at least twice a day.

I spent years blanketing my horses because of that stinking show deal. I don't anymore. I don't ride them into a lather when they're hairy. If they get wet, then I'll dry them with a cooler or six. I don't stall anymore. They have lots of room, each other and a shed.

If it's too cold, horses will sometimes not drink enough. This can lead to dehydration. If I'm worried about a horse, I'll feed them sloppy soaked warm beet pulp with some molasses and salt. The molasses gets even the picky ones to eat it, the salt makes them thirsty and the little bit of water they get from the mash encourages them to drink.

I don't like automatic waterers because I can't monitor their water intake.

I'll salt all my horses feed during extended periods of cold. Again, it encourages them to drink.

That's it. Simple, maybe, but it's worked for me for a very long time.

Keep the gut moving with hay, salt and water.

Good health before the cold hits is key.

Keep the ice out and your eyes peeled.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Manners Matter

I moved my horses a few weeks ago.

Madonna, Odin, and my friend Kathy's mare, Rosie are living together in a safe pen with plenty of room to play wild mustang if they want.

I received a compliment about them that kept running deeper the longer I sat on it. At the end of the first week I was visiting with the barn manager.

"I have to tell you," she said, "those are the most well mannered horses I've ever worked around."

"Well thanks," I said. "considering Odin bit a chunk out of that gelding his first day."

She shrugged. "It was his first day,the gelding's owner should have known better than to shove her horse's face at him."

I knew I liked her.

"You're just throwing hay, how much trouble can they get in?"

"When I come to the gate, they stand clear and don't crowd me," she said. "I can swing the gate open, push the wheel barrow in and not worry about one pushing past. If I need to move one, I just raise my hand and they move off. I mean, your horses are pretty rowdy, but while I'm in here, they don't fight or anything. I haven't had a single butt turned towards me, not one. I love your horses."

I thanked her again and we went about our business. Her compliment has been percolating since then. My horses aren't angels, believe me. Madonna has been known to run barn help out of her stall or pen. Odin will completely dismember anything made from panels if he feels they're in his way. Rosie is the queen of the mean face. All three of them will paw and whinny if they feel they've been tied too long.

I'm tickled to death to hear they're being well behaved, it secures out position in the new place. They have not lived in as open a situation as this one before, so it isn't specific behaviors they've been taught. The basic training I put on every horse I either own or was paid to train has paid off.

It's not just about getting a feel good pat on the back, it's knowing, if circumstances change and take them from my care, I have given them a better chance for a good life. They have different talents, are at different levels of training, and have wildly different temperaments, but they share one thing in common, they are respectful and safe to handle.

I have some rules I instill and maintain from the first day I start with a horse. Most of them are about personal space--mine, not theirs.

My horses can't step closer than, oh, three or four feet to me. If I want to be closer, I'm the one who steps to them.
When I approach towards, next to, or past their hindquarters, I expect them to take one step away from me. Always. Forever.
They can't lean their shoulders towards me.
My horses may not step into me. Ever. This includes spooking. I'll let them spook and get behind me, but they better not bang into me.
They never, ever crowd a gate. This fits under the respecting three feet of Janet's personal space rule.
They don't fight when I'm in their space.
They lead where I tell them to.
They don't kick, bite or make ugly faces at people.
They stand tied.
They behave for the vet and the farrier.

These are my basics.

I try to respect them too. Personally, I feel like if I acknowledge their likes and dislikes, they trust me more and work harder to comply.

Madonna doesn't like her ears touched. So, I don't. Don't get me wrong. If I need to doctor them, I do. She drops her head for a bridle and is fine with having her ear folded into a one ear. If I need her ear, I get her ear. But I leave her be. I don't try to touch them without reason. I don't clip them.

Odin is as sweet and snugly as a gelding can be. If he knows you. Unfamiliar hands reaching for his face send him spinning away. I let him be wary. I warn people off when they want to pet him. He'll let them ride him, but he doesn't want them up in his grill.

Even though I let them have their quirks, I can still trust them to be non-threatening and quiet around people.

Which leads me to my next point.

My horses are broke.

They are as safe to ride as they are to handle. I have to stick a caveat in here. They are safe to ride if you have the skills needed to ride them.

 Rosie is the most tolerant. A green rider doesn't faze her. She'll pack anybody around an arena, but she won't give up any cool moves until her rider knows how to get them.

Odin is almost as laid back. He's still young enough to need support from his rider periodically, and could become frightened without it. But it doesn't take much to get him rode. He's going to be as awesome as Rosie as the years go by.

Madonna is a snorty, high wired, bug-eyed, hot mess. It's easy for someone who doesn't ride cow horse to frighten her. I've never seen anyone who rode her step down without a big grin though. She's cool.

Each horse is well trained for a market that's always looking.

I feel I owe each and every horse I work with at least that much.

As far as I'm concerned, the greatest disservice possible to a horse is to not educate them. I know way too many 7-year-old geldings that still aren't started. They'll eat carrots and rip hay out of your hands, but you can't ride them around an arena.

When I think about my animals welfare, I always consider what will happen to them if something happens to me. So far, I've been able to make arrangements for all of them. It hasn't been any trouble either, because they come with the best possible safety net I can offer them. They're broke.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Love Them By Protecting Them. Protect Them by Training Them

We have a serial killer running rampant in Colorado Springs.

In the last month he has opened fire three times on apparently random victims in different parts of the city.

One died, one survived and the third was missed entirely.

The only common thread is the victims of this lunatic are friendly, off leash dogs that approach him.

According to Denver 7 news, the first dog was shot January 5 at Penstemon Park in Colorado Springs. Police say the dog's owner told police a man fired several shots at the dog, killing it and then ran off.
A second dog, an elderly bulldog, was shot at a week later on Shooks Run Trail. The owner heard the shot and saw a man running away. In that case, the dog wasn't hit. 
Then last week, Robbie, a stray that was cared for by several households on the same street,  was shot. He survived.
The shooter has only been identified as male.
I apologize for being overly dramatic, ah, never mind, I take that back. If this man is willing to shoot dogs in broad daylight, with their owners right there, it seems to me the dog owners themselves could easily become the next target. He has to be crazy. 
Each dog was off leash. They were friendly dogs, who felt comfortable approaching strangers. 
This is an accepted behavior for many dog owners. There are others who are more extreme. These are the belligerent, aggressive dog owners who demand the world love their dogs, whether they're humpers, droolers, jumpers,or even biters. If a person takes issue with being greeted by such a dog, then they are considered the problem, even in a public place with a leash law.
Owning Brockle has really opened my eyes to how dogs affect other people. He scares the crap out of many. 
It's not his fault, my fault or theirs. 
He is well-behaved and minds his own business. He wasn't always, so I've dealt with reactions to him on both sides of the coin. 
I've come to realize I don't want my dogs to scare anybody. I don't want anybody to feel threatened by them, unless of course they try to hurt me or break into my house. I also want to protect them from dog fights, cars coming from nowhere and getting lost in the mountains. Trusting they won't bolt after livestock, game or dogs, disappear on a hike or dart into the street is only possible if they are well-trained. The alternative is to keep them leashed. I go back and forth between leashed and loose, depending on the circumstance.
I have gone beyond a basic recall. I'm teaching all of my dogs to not approach anybody unless they are invited. Even then, I want them to stay with me until I say OK. 
It's not perfect yet, but we're closing in on it. Charlie and Brockle are about 90%, the other two, not so much.
I've always felt assuming  strangers love my dogs as much as I do would be presumptuous. I've always felt it is my responsibility to control all of my animals, and not put anybody other than myself in a position of dealing with them.
These days, at least in my city, doing anything else can get them killed.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

WTH is Brockle? Behaviors

Yeah, I can't stand it.

I've got to let you in on the stuff I've been learning about dog behavior, because, well, it's awesome.

While all my research into dogs and their physical characteristics started me on some interesting trails, things became fun when I started studying the behavior of Brockle vs. the behavior of different breeds.

There are other factors involved here, mainly learned behaviors that came from his previous environment and interactions with people.

He's a walking, barking, shedding knot of nature vs. nurture.

Brockle and I met when I went to our local animal shelter to look at a female catahoula leopard dog. I wanted a female, because I think they are easier than males and I'm not a fan of marking. I'm aware all male dogs don't mark in the house, but it's a pretty standard behavior that comes with rescue dogs and I was planning on skipping that particular PIA.

Parkinson's is a disease that demands walking, lots of it. My dogs were older, sedentary, and perfectly content to stay curled on the couch instead of hiking in bad weather. I decided I wanted a younger dog who would offer a training challenge and would demand lots of exercise.

Boy howdy, talk about getting the dog you need.

I paused at a kennel with a beautiful large fluffy dog. He was stressed, but calm, looked straight into my eyes and very clearly said, "Hey, you, get me the hell out of here."

He was riveting. I never made it to the catahoula.

When we met he was brought in by a volunteer who proceeded to show me how nicely he sat, laid down and ate treats.

I think I hurt her feelings when I asked her to stop with the tricks and let me observe him on his own.

He paced around the small enclosure a few times, thoroughly sniffed the people he didn't know and politely tolerated the kidlet while she petted and played with him. I sat on my hands and watched.

He sat in front of me and stared straight into my eyes again. He didn't look away and it was slightly unnerving. I know this is supposed to be a dominant or aggressive trait, but that wasn't the vibe he gave. He was talking to me, as clear and straight as he could, and sizing me up at the same time. I read intensity, exhaustion, confusion and a question I wasn't sure how to answer.

He must have answered it himself, because he came to me and laid down with a sigh, his back against my legs like he had always been there. I was hooked.

When I applied to adopt him I was warned. He was a three time loser. Adopted out as a stray at three months, returned at ten months for eating a couch and chewing his way out of an apartment THROUGH THE WALL, all in the same day. Then he was adopted again, by a large active family, this time he lasted 12 hours before he was returned. The only explanation was "He's horrible, awful and needs to be put down." He was sent to the shelter's rehab for training, and returned a failure. He had dog aggression issues and wouldn't behave on a leash.

"I have time, and if I need help, I'll get it," I said.

I had my new boy.

Because of his speckled face he was named Brockle. It's a cowboy thing.

This is a brockle faced cow.

His bones were prominent under his beautifully groomed coat. He only weighed 47 pounds. He was fine with our family, both dogs and humans. Although he glued himself to my leg, he was gentle with both Jim and I, and careful not to upset our precarious balance.

He watched me constantly, seeking and holding eye contact as long as I would return it. Our first walk together went so well I took him off leash at the neighborhood off leash area. His joy was intense and he came to me the instant I called.

I couldn't understand what the problem was. He was awesome. Well, except for attempting to hump every person and dog in the house on his first night with us. But that cute trick had been dispensed with immediately and it took three days to get him to eat. I still felt we were truly on our way.

What I failed to realize on our first outing was that we hadn't seen any other dogs. The first time we crossed paths with another dog, Brockle launched through the air with a terrible snarl. 

I am strong. I can wrestle down an unbroke 4-year-old draft cross with one arm, a halter and longe line. 

Brockle pulled off my feet. I had to pull myself up the leash hand over hand and lay on him before he stopped. No, I wasn't doing the Cesar/Mosquito Monks alpha roll, it was all I could do to get him to stop trying to kill that dog. 

A week later I called a pro.

I had my project.

Here's what I've learned about my dog.

He's a brainiac. I'm not bragging, he freaks me out a little. I'll give three quick examples. 

#1. This morning, when I took the dogs out, I realized I didn't have my coffee. It was 5:30 am, still dark, I was groggy and not amused. I searched for 15 minutes.
Brockle pickd up that I was searching for something and offered me his ball, his duck, and his rope. I said, no, I want my coffee each time.
He started sniffing here and there, being especially thorough on the places I had been.
I finally found my coffee. 
I said, "There's my coffee!!"
I can guarantee, the next time I start looking for my lost coffee he will take me to it, because that's how he rolls.

#2. I took him to my amazingly awesome vet to check him for a sore back. She had found part of the problem but needed to explore his back leg. He was getting stressed (he doesn't like to be handled by anybody but me) so she stopped for a bit.
"I'll give him a break before I check his hamstring and leg," she said.
Brockle backed into the corner (she sits on the floor with them instead of using a table) placed his butt firmly against the wall and hid his hind leg.
"He understands words," she said.
"Yes he does," I replied.
"I mean, he understands me."

#3. Brockle eavesdrops when I'm on the phone. If it's my mother, Suzy or Kathy, all walking buddies, he stays and listens. If he hears them say (or spell) walk or go, or out, he watches out the front window until they arrive. We say round object instead of ball and hike instead of walk, because he understands the spelling of both.  

He's very high drive and has been diagnosed with OCD. When I got him he was self mutilating. That has stopped. Dribbling his tennis ball on the tile floor for hours at a time has not.

He's loves obedience work, I mean loooovveeess it.

When I first began to realize how smart he is, I immediately thought about border collies (BC). Thing is, he doesn't herd or nip heels.Not even a little. He doesn't slink, crouch or sneak either.

He's a head up, chest out, charging kind of guy.

He draws a perimeter around me and Charlie and guards it. Nobody is allowed in.When we are at protection practice he will attack an approaching bad guy (decoy) with everything he's got. If it's a fleeing bad guy, he will chase him to his chosen perimeter and stop. He won't leave me to catch a criminal. It's not his job.

Every night he does his "night bark." He stands in the back yard and barks for about 10 minutes. It's a steady warning bark. Deep, serious and calm. If we don't give him this time, he's anxious and restless until he gets it.

He spends his life at my side. When I walk through the house, he walks with me, usually with his nose touching my leg. He doesn't leave, ever. If he is accidentally let out of the house or yard, he lays on the porch by the front door.

Brockle doesn't cower, no matter how mad he's made me. When I yell at him he immediately makes puzzled eye contact and steps closer. He takes no shit. I've touched him in anger once. His response was to look me in the eyes, pee on the ground and kick dirt everywhere, staring at me the whole time.

I told my trainer and he said,"Then don't do that."

I've since learned that some dogs consider themselves partners, not subordinates. If they feel unfairly treated they have been known to turn on their handler. If these dogs are pushed with severe discipline they step straight into fight, not flight. It turns out it's an actual gene that creates this response. It makes a dog move forward into fear instead of back away. It appears Brockle carries this gene.

It's not that he won't accept discipline. I refocus him with work, one task or many, until we're back on track. If I'm unhappy with him he'll bust his butt to figure out what I want and then do it. He'll accept a snap of the leash and "Leave it!" just fine. I seriously doubt he'd accept being kicked, jerked repeatedly or punched.

Brockle has taken it upon himself to take care of me. When I'm tired he tries to guide me to the car, away from the stove, or back home mid-hike. Stupid PD makes my blood pressure plummet when I over do it. Brockle knows it's going on before I do and coaxes me into sitting down. He helps me up the stairs, off the couch and out of bed. If I fall he lets me use him to get back up. 

I don't suggest you punch me or break into my house, but he is now considered a happy friendly dog. Protection and obedience training completely turned him around.

He's devoted. His focus on me is so intense he won't learn from my trainer. HMT has to teach me how to teach him. He can't just take the leash and teach him because he's too intent on me to listen. He said he's only met one other dog in his career that wouldn't work for him. He stands between me and every single person who approaches.

He's kind of a dickhead. He likes to dawdle over breakfast and dinner, guarding the kitchen and not allowing the dogs to pass. He likes to roll small dogs at the park, part of why he stays on leash unless he's working. He argues with me, vocalizing with a loud "Rowr, rowr, rowwr, when he disagrees with my decision. He body blocks the kidlet so she can't touch me (or at least tries).

He is happier on a leash than off, unless we're working. If he doesn't have a focus off leash he gets nervous and runs from me to Charlie, over and over until he's exhausted. He sniffs only to identify and track an animal, mainly the predators that frequent my neighborhood. He rarely stops to mark.

He is not food motivated unless there's another dog with us who is.

He has, however, become incredibly well behaved and loves to learn. He walks on a loose leash, ignores other dogs, looks to me for an OK before he becomes aggressive, either with decoys at practice or stupid men who reach out to pet him or do anything to make me nervous. Again, it's a bad idea to try to punch me. He successfully worked off leash yesterday with dogs around and never lost focus.

He doesn't bother livestock, chickens, ducks, sheep, goats etc. Horses worry him, there was an incident, but that's a story for another day. Once I'm on, he goes back to the car. Not so good with cats.

He's 2 1/2 now and still growing, both height and width. 

I learned that all Belgian shepherds and particularly the malinois often carry the "never back down" gene.
Livestock Guardian dogs (LGD), Great Pyrenees, Anatolian Shepherds, and Kuvasz  all guard their perimeter over chasing down intruders. They won't leave their flock. 
The only dog I've heard vocalize like him are GSD. 
Collies were crossed with sight hounds back in the day to make them pointier and elegant.
GSD are known for their obsessive devotion and need to touch their person. 
He doesn't have dew claws, unless they were removed as a puppy.
In town, the mutts crosses tend to be pits, rotts, chihuahuas, labs and heelers.
East of town in cowboy central, LGD, heelers, BC, working terriers and sight hounds, (mostly greyhounds and whippets) malinois, GSD are pretty common, and all the crazy crosses that can result.
Sport dogs are popular here, with a lot of crosses between sight hounds, terriers, BC and protection type breeds being made to compete in agility and fly ball. Coyote dogs (aggressive lurchers bred to hunt and kill coyotes) are not unheard of.

Whatever he is, he's become an amazing partner and definitely keeps me on my toes. It's going to be fun to see what his DNA tells me.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

WTH is Brockle?

Yes. I'm at it again.

The DNA test is being processed, so I'll quit boring you with my obsession soon.
After I did all that DNA study I was OK with the potential results on Brockle. Unless he is a combination of 175 breeds in the first couple generations, the results should give me an idea or three of who he is.

This craziness is my trainers fault. Yes, HMT, you. The first time we met, he immediately started evaluating (playing) with my new dog.

"He's cool," HMT said. "What is he?"

"The pound said he was a collie/GSD cross," I replied.

"Hmmm," he said.

A few minutes later, the eternally patient, awesome trainer in her own right, and retired due to injury wife of HMT, Saint B, drove by on her way to town. She stopped to say "Hi."

"Hey, Saint B, check out our new client, Brockle," HMT said.

"Oooh, he's kinda cool," Saint B said."What is he?"

"The pound told her he was collie and GSD."

"No he's not. Maybe collie...healer? I don't know, but he's not a shepherd."

"Why?" I asked.

"His color," Saint B said. "It's recessive. GSD coloring is extremely dominant. If there's any shepherd in there it's a few generations back."

And so began the mystery of my dog.

 I did quite a bit of research into dominant and recessive traits (genes).

As usual, keep in mind this is my very unscientific mind at work.

Basics are, if it's a recessive trait it's as weak as an inbred Italian Greyhound. In order for a recessive trait to appear it has to be crossed with another animal that carries the same trait.

Brockle's mostly white, piebald, orangish coat is recessive. So both parents would need to carry a gene for this color.

A dominant trait is all JRT. It only needs to be in one parent to appear. And then it kicks some ass.
Recessive traits can be pure evil, hanging around for generations and hiding in the shadows, until another like recessive enters the gene pool then BAMMO! you've got cleft palates, bulgy eyes, Brachycephalic Airway Syndrome...

This is where my research took me.

Here's some dog data.

Brockle's "smooshy" face

He definitely doesn't have GSD legs.
Brockle measures 27 inches at the shoulder.
He weighs 72 pounds.
The vet would like him to be closer to 80 pounds, but he's a light eater.
He has a long, fluffy double coat which he blows twice a year. In between he's a light shedder.
His ears are so big I have trouble getting them to fit in a head shot.
His color is described as tipped sable piebald with ticking and a black mask.
His head is narrow, he has a clearly defined stop and he's pretty jowly for a long nosed dog.

He's really tall.

GSD - 23-26 inches
Rough Collie-22-26
Doberman - 24 - 28
Borzoi - 26-28
Anatolian Shepherd - 29-32
Malinois - 24-26
Border Collie -19-22
Australian Cattle Dog - 18-20
Australian Shepherd - 20-23

He has fine bones.
Long oval feet, the middle toes extend way past the outside ones.

He is very fast. We clocked him at 37 mph on a recall. I'm pretty sure he would be faster if he was in prey mode. He runs like this:

Lurchers left, Brockles left

His ears have a distinctive shape.

Panda Shepherd

Belgian Shepherd (Trevuren)

His tail is interesting...

Anatolian Shepherd


rough collie

as is his body type.

His color keeps causing problems.
Australian Cattle Dogs immediately come to mind. Their size, build, and attitude just don't add up. Still, I see a lot of dogs called heelers that could. Maybe.

Purebred Australian Cattle Dog

Shepherd/Heeler mix

So...remembering that I need a recessive gene from both parents to get a recessive trait, but only one gene from one parent to get a dominant trait...

Recessive traits:
Prick ears
Long hair
piebald coloring
White collies are the result of either to white parents or two white factored parents.The color is inherited independently of the dominant sable.

Dominant traits:
drop ears
short hair
Black Mask - this is interesting, short noses (brachycephalic dogs) are recessive and begin to disappear within one generation when out-crossed with dogs with regular noses, many of these breeds have masks. Technically, Brockle could have some Boxer back there somewhere).
Sable color
double coats
black and tan

Plush coat GSD and Brockle

That's the end of my physical meanderings. Next, I'm going to talk about his gets really interesting.