There are many different facts about the Australian Kelpie and its history that you may not know. This is a dog full of legends and stories galore.
First Blood - The first known Kelpie was a black and tan female pup. She had ears that were slightly floppy and was purchased by Jack Gleeson around 1860. She was from a litter of pups owned by a Scot named George Robertson. She was born near Casterton on Warrock Station.
It is believed that this dog was named after a mythological figure from Celtic folklore. Kelpie is the Gaelic word for Water Sprite. There is a legend that a Dingo was the sire of "Kelpie". However, there is very little evidence that would support or dissipate this claim.
The second known Kelpie was known as "Kings Kelpie". She was the daughter of the original Kelpie dog. She was said to have been sired by "Caesar", who was said to be the offspring of two sheep-dogs which were imported from Scotland. There is a legend that states that the two sheep-dogs had never really been from Scotland and that they each had some Dingo blood.
Red Cloud - There was actually never a Red Cloud Kelpie, which is beloved by Western Australia. There were two famous "Red Clouds". One was in the 1900's and the other was in the 1960's. They were well known in Western Australia. This is what started the tradition of calling all red or red and tan Kelpies "Red Cloud".
Barbs - Black Kelpies became known simply as "Barbs". This is due to the fact that the first solid black Kelpie was named Barb.
Legends - There are many different legends about the Kelpie. Many of them state that the Kelpie is a Dingo and Collie mix.
One lesser known legend states that these dogs have a bit of fox running through their blood. This belief stems from the shape of the kelpie's head and the fact that there was always a red puppy in each litter.
Employment - There are many different jobs that the Kelpie can be used for. The most common is for herding and cattle work. However the Kelpie has a rich history of other uses as a working dog.
In Australia, the Kelpie is primarily used in quarantine, and pets-as-therapy. They have also been used as fully trained guide dogs.
In Sweden, Holland, and Finland they are used for search and rescue missions.
When it comes to herding, most people are familiar with cattle and sheep and maybe the occasional goat. But the Kelpie is also very adept at herding poultry and even reindeer!
Heroism - There is a story out of Perth, Australia in which two young boys became lost in the Boranup Forest with their Kelpie. The boys were reportedly 7 and 8 years old at the time. They only had their T-shirts and jeans to protect them from the elements. Their Red Cloud Kelpie huddled over them to protect the boys from the bitterly cold night, enabling them to survive. He also guarded them from potential predators.
As with all breeds of dogs, the Australian Kelpie has a rich heritage that will keep you coming back for more. A Kelpie truly can be man's best friend.