At that time I knew nothing of Koolies (present day spelling because quite simply 'Coolie' is too often confused with 'Collie') and had absolutely no idea what breed he was, plus didn't care. Some suggested he was Border Collie but there was something that made Alf different from any Border Collie I had ever known.
Over time old hands would stop me on the street, give Alf a pat and tell me how seeing him brought back good memories for them. They would tell me some great tales and fill me in on what breed he was, talking on incessantly about this wonderful breed of dog. It was a privilege to meet these interesting people and I listened, intently. If only I could speak with them again.
Alfie honestly did keep my kids safe. When he was told 'go with' he 'went with' and never left their side. If one child strayed away from the other he would round them up and not cease til they were reunited and walking together again. I'm not talking sending the kids off on their own, just to a neighbours or the corner shop.
They were different times, I doubt I'd let kids go any where without me in today's world. Yet I could trust Alf with my toddlers and even my newest baby crawling all over him. His mild temperament with family members was amazing and beautiful.
Alfie was a remarkable family member, he was not perfect but he was to us. Just about everyone loved Alfie (the Postie not so much) and were bemused by his odd looks and good nature. His best doggy pal was another stray Sally, a darling terrier allsorts.
Alf and Sal were quite a sight and locals nicknamed them 'Heckle and Jeckle'. They were an inseparable and very comical mismatch. PS. Sally was spayed so no little furry Koolies. Can't speak for the neighbourhood bitches though.
In time we moved to the country and added another Koolie to our little clan. Honey, an abandoned/lost, obviously Koolie found in a burrow with dead pups next to the Gawler River. Where were these dogs coming from?
From memory I think Honey and Alf produced about 5 litters, I know some pups went to cityslickers but most were country bound and a few went to local stockmen working the Gepps Cross saleyards. Pup had about 2 litters also, and by that time I was city living again and happy to give her pups away. Logically offspring from Alfie, Honey and Pup could have ended up almost anywhere, even across borders.
I grew up in an era when it was a rarity for a dog to be allowed inside the house let alone be treated as a family member. Blue collar families didn't keep pets, and so dogs lived outdoors, sheltered where they could, roamed the streets, raided rubbish bins and bred indiscriminately anywhere, anytime. Dogs had fleas, ringworm and no manners at all.
Most of us couldn't imagine times like that but it was the norm back then and working dogs were tools of trade that would never be considered pets. They were just another mouth to feed. To give an indication of how inconsequential animals were in those dark ages, all I ever wanted to be was a Vet, but as my parents insisted 'Vet's starve to death as no one pays to get an animal treated by an animal doctor', I'm sure they considered it dutiful to quash that thought. And as I was a kid living in Sydney and the Vet College was in another world (Melbourne) without parental assistance that could never happen.
I was a city kid. Born in QLD, reared in Randwick, Sydney, and my fav haunts were the sandhills on the eastern end of Randwick racecourse where I could watch the races, and Centennial Park, where horse mad kids like me could always bum a ride on a horse. So in my early teens I did what every animal crazy city bred girl did, I went 'bush' jillarooing, first to Burra Burra outside of Queanbeyan then to a property near Combarra Siding, Coonamble N.S.W. I'm sure as a city bred animal lover in those days I was considered by many, definitely by my mother, to be well, 'a bit weird'.
Now I had 2 Koolies that fell off the proverbial back of a truck! What are the odds of that???? How ridiculous!. From 'wot tha is a Koolie' to adding two Koolie dogs to my little family.
This girl was named Honey as my kids reckoned she looked like she'd had her face in a honey jar. Honey was very much a one man dog and considered herself my dog. She gave me a few litters of lovely pups, including a daughter to Alf named 'Pup', because no name we ever came up with seemed to suit her. Pup was the only survivor of Honey's very last litter. Unbeknown to me, Honey quietly left her week old litter to follow me when I went riding, and was hit by a car. Pup was the image of her mum, staying with my family til she died age 17 early 1990's.
Alfie was a dog once seen never forgotten he was unique and eye catching. Many times over the years I wondered about where he come from, how such a remarkably unique animal had come to be wandering the streets of the Port. Could he have arrived there on a ship carrying stock? Or have been with his owner at the nearby Wool Stores and simply wandered off. Honey was probably dumped for being pregnant.
Was he lost or was he abandoned? Was there someone somewhere missing him? I'll never know, but if someone lamented his loss they can feel eased by the fact that he was greatly loved and lived a wonderful life.
Yet to be proven of course, if possible, but I feel strongly that Alfie and my original Honey must have played a leading role in S.A.'s modern Koolie population. It would almost be ridiculous to think otherwise I believe.
Time will hopefully tell. One day someone will recall, " hey, my dad, brother, uncle, granddad, sister, mum, etc. etc. got a Koolie pup from a lady at Gawler River, or from a lady at Windsor S.A. a cattle breeder with initials L.W."
Somebody knows something about these dogs as I know that Koolies were an oddity in suburban S.A. at that time, and I also know that once seen, Koolies are not easily forgotten.
I admit that it really bugs me when I hear our wonderful Aussie dogs being credited to another Nation. Perhaps that's something personal I may just have to get over, after all, the Australian Shepherd is not an Australian dog breed at all. It was 'created' in U.S.A. (from our AUSSIE KOOLIE by the way) and that doesn't bug me at all!
On second thought, no. I feel I must continue to shine the limelight on Australia for creating what has proven to be such a talented animal, just because I think that's as it should be.
Even so, after the Australian outback Coolie breed was actually up and running so to speak, who is to say that blood from other breeds, German or otherwise, was not added to the mix as is the case with every man made dog breed on the planet. If a canine is not wolf it's a 'dog breed' derived from differing man made 'breeds.'
The information gleaned from these wonderful characters was that Alfie's breed was known as a German's Coolie, (the unknowing translating this to mean a German Coolie.) However each and every old stockman I ever personally spoke with told me that simply was not true.
I am no authority on the subject and there is already much about possible origins of our Koolies readily available on the internet but in reality without documentation who knows what is fact and what is not? Nevertheless, what these interesting old hands imparted to me first hand you can find on 'About Koolies' if you're interested.
Further, I would appreciate hearing from anyone with knowledge of our Koolies' history. Perhaps you know of Koolies via a family member, friend or such.
Any information on the subject would be good info
so please share.
Photo above. Quite often my living room turns into a creche.
Photo left. Honey was the best of mums and grandmums. Here she plays as a mother would with Willo, her grandpup. I've known bitches who want zero to do with their pups or any pups once the milk dries up and the hormones dilute away. How happy I am that her daughter Buffy is a wonderful mum too. Shame I only had the chance to keep one of daughters. We think they'll be here with us forever, don't we?
THIS IS WHY AUSSIE KOOLIES ROCK!
DEANNA GRIFFIN ( Montego Koolies Dogzblogz fb member) Mine keeps me company at work all day. Additional things I've noticed he's mouthy, like wants to grab you by
your clothes and take you to somewhere), super duper flexible/floppy, sensitive, quiet & affectionate. Are these things typical for koolies? Oh Yeah!
Can't hardly remember being this young but photo above shows a 15yr old me astride stockhorse Blaze ready to set out for the 18 mile (40k+) ride from Burra Burra to Queanbeyan for the Annual Show 1959.
It was not until I came to South Australia as a young mother that I ever came across a dog anything at all like a Koolie. I know now they were out there but I had not ever seen one. So, in South Australia and by unusual circumstances, one momentous day I found I had a Koolie.
Therefore my attachment to the Koolie actually harks way back to the dark ages of 1960's and a shaggy, par blue eyed, mottley, specked, patched, blotched, sad and very hungry stray dog found wandering the streets of Port Adelaide.
He was found and befriended by a neighbour but I eagerly put my hand up to adopt him when he was not welcome at my neighbours home. Their bad luck, my very good fortune.
I named this new family member Alfie, as in the movie theme song ('What's it all about Alfie?') because to fairly well everyone this patchwork dog was a complete puzzle.
This weird mutt with a half bright blue eye made an indelible impact on me and my three kids. Even now we'll all get a tear in our eye at just the mention of dear old Alfie.
My youngest son, the grown up version of the cute little tike pictured here, has named his today Koolie, you guessed it Alfie?
Below left is sweet little girl Sally, Alfie's constant shadow.
Above. Taylah Hayes' gorgeous boy Clarry is right at home helping out with the polo team.
Photo left. June is a very sweet and quite precocious girl now adored by the Lanteri family of Victoria.
In Burra Burra, the dogs were mostly Border Collie or BCX, but when I went north to Combarra Siding, the type of working dogs differed. A string of 8 plus bony, raggedy dogs was usual on any of the stations I ever saw or worked on, and they were good dogs (poor workers disappeared overnight) but when not working they were kept well chained otherwise they'd run amok, kill the mousers, harass the horses, hassle the cattle, pull down the sheep, plus the infighting could get really fierce and scary. They were almost feral dogs.
Some of the NSW dogs also doubled as pig dogs to give some idea of how rough and tough some of these animals were. Plus those times were not kind to animals in human care. They had to be tough. At that time if any dog larger than a Sydney Silky barked at you the average person was terrified and the only working dogs I met were Kelpie types, Borders, Heelers, or any mix of the above and probably a bit more.
I also came across a few very odd bitzas such as those mixed with Irish Wolfhound for 'sport hunting' interests. In those days rabbits still were a terrible scourge although the spread of mexamotosis was devastatingly and horribly efficient, and in the Coonamble district, wild pigs made their presence very noticeable. They were scarey critters.