Interview with Carol Beckett, TAGETARL

Emotional ties and birth

Doris asks Carol Beckett of TAGETARL KENNEL

Carol Beckett and her husband Stephen are both judges and breeders of Australian Cattle Dogs. Their successful and reputed kennel “Tagetarl” is known for quality in the world of Australian Cattle Dog

Doris:

”What are ACDs for you? Do they still touch your soul after these many years of living with them?”

Carol:

I fell in love with the ACD as a child but was never allowed to have one. My family was not the sort of people who paid money for a dog, although we always had several. Now I could not live without an ACD or two by my side. For me they are the perfect dog. They understand your every thought and emotion almost before you do.

I recently travelled away showing with my friend and seven of my dogs for almost a week. Although she knew the dogs from our regular shows together she had not spent any time with them away from the show scene. The days that we travelled and let the dogs out together for a run gave her an insight into my life every day. She said to me that she had no idea that each dog had a very different and individual personality and that they all interacted with each-other on so many different levels. She said that she just knew them by name from the shows, now she knows them for who they really are. This is why I love the breed and am surrounded by them everyday.”

Doris:

”How do your bitches deliver? In a separate room? Do they need human companionship or do they prefer to be alone?”

Carol:

“I am with our bitch through the whole process. Our girls like me to be with them while they are giving birth and often cry out for me to come or wait till I am home to start delivering. We have a separate area purposely built for whelping bitches and young pups. The bitch is put in the whelping are a few weeks before she delivers. We have heating, lighting and cooling set up here with refrigerator for drugs and supplements and hoses for cleaning. I sit with the bitch through the delivery and then make checks on her and the pups every two hours day and night for the first week until all the pups are feeding properly. I check the pups circulation and for de-hydration every two-hour and intervene when necessary. On the whole ACDs are very good mothers but I always keep a careful eye on everything until I am happy that the pups are doing well and know that the mother is looking after the pups correctly.”

Doris:

”Are you making litters separately or does it happen, that you have more than one litter at the time?”

Carol:

“Most of our bitches cycle (come into oestrus) at the same time or close together. Therefore we usually have more than one litter at a time. We have two whether seasons here a cool dry season (May to September) and a very hot humid wet season (October to April). We try to do most of our litters only in the early dry season. We like to mate two bitches at the same time. If one bitch has a big litter and the other has only a couple of puppies sometimes you can take some pups off one mother and give to the other, but only if they are similar in age and you must be very careful that the adoptive mother accepts the pups. If we get a big litter we usually bottle feed the puppies with extra milk.”

Joyful life of puppies

Doris:

”How are your dogs living? In family packs or separated?”

Carol:

“All our dogs are separated in individual kennels side by side. Every afternoon we let all the dogs out and put them together in a big yard with natural woodland. All our stud dogs and bitches exercise and run together for about an hour. The only dogs we do not run together are bitches that are in season or pregnant and very young puppies.”

Doris:

”ACDs are extremely intelligent. How do you wake it up and improve their intelligence?”

Carol:

“For puppies we give them a toy box and change the toys every few days. Puppies have normal dog toys like kong, balls and squeaker but we also give them things that people use as well like empty drink bottles, old flower pots, plastic containers from the kitchen. We also leave a radio or T.V. on for the dogs to hear people talking and music. For the adult dogs we train them and we also give them new things to explore in their big exercise yard.”

Doris:

”Who is beside you responsible for the care of your dogs?

Carol:

“My husband and I care for, clean, train and handle our dogs alone. We sometimes have an extra person help out at the shows if we have lots of dogs entered.”
Doris:
”How often are you judging in and outside of Australia?”

Carol:

“We have judged in most states of Australia. We have not judged outside Australia yet but would love to get a judging appointment in another country in the future. We are both able to judge the working (herding and pastoral) breeds, I am also able to judge all toy breeds and my husband can judge utility breeds (boxer, Doberman and such)”.

Doris:

”Do you sometimes think: “I wish I were one of my ACDs?”

Carol:

“Yes, they have a lovely carefree life with everything provided for lots of love and are all very happy”.

“How We Care for Our Puppies’ Future

Doris:

How are you choosing new parents for an ACD puppy?

Carol:

We have puppy application form that tell us a bit about the person, such as how many dogs they already have, are they de-sexed, why do they want and ACD. Then we also ask for reference from people like their veterinarians. We also e-mail people and ask them more questions before we agree to selling anyone a puppy. We only breed a few litters per year so we are very careful who gets a Tagetarl puppy.


Doris:

Are you exporting your pups to abroad?

Carol:

Yes we have exported to the USA and Canada and would like to export to other countries. We do not breed many litters each year, so sometimes people will not wait for long enough to get a puppy from us. That is their loss as our puppies are definitely worth waiting for.

Tagetarl has made up many champions over the years. Doris:

How many were there exactly?


Carol:

So far 68 Champions, with more on the way to becoming Champions. In Australia a dog needs to accumulate 100 points to become a Champion. A dog gets 5 points for each challenge plus 1 point for every dog that they beat.

Doris:

What are you thinking about health tests? Are you testing your dogs?

Carol:

Yes, we DNA test all our breeding stock for PRA. We will only breed with sound dogs. We have bred almost 150 litters of puppies and have never had any deaf puppies born.

Doris:

What do you think about comprehensive breeding rules by the Kennel- or Breed Club, which everyone has to follow in order to get pedigrees for his pups?

Carol:

If your dogs are registered and have pedigree papers, then provided they are quality dogs, they should be entitled to get pedigrees. Some rules are too restrictive. It is making it too hard for people to breed.

In Australia there are new moves to restrict breeders as well. Breeders have great knowledge about their breed. We have been the custodians of our breeds for hundreds of year. Breeders should not have to follow rules laided down by kennel controls that tell us how to breed our dogs.

When a breed is restricted by too many rules this discourages lots of new breeders to join as it is too difficult for them and too expensive.

There are many lobby groups with the hidden agenda to stop the breeding of purebred dogs around the world. All breeders must fight to protect our rights to breed.

Doris:

Are your ACDs making certain herding test?

Carol:

Herding is only a very new sport in Australia. Where we live the climate is tropical and very hot for most of the year. It is too hot here to hold herding or working trials. Many dogs that we have bred are actively working cattle on large stations throughout Australia, such as in country Queensland, the Kimberley in Western Australian, in central Northern Territory around Alice Springs and also in Southern Australia where the weather is not so hot.

It must be remembered that the ACD was developed to move wild cattle over vast distances. These cattle have not had human or horse contact for sometimes many years, if ever at all during their lives. Not for herding tame dairy (milk) cattle or sheep. The ACD must be tenacious and aggressive enough to control wild cattle. These cattle are very unpredictable, often strong willed or even terrified. The ACD must be able to control such cattle. By dominating them.

Herding trials do not simulate or recreate these same conditions. Herding trials do not use wild cattle. The ACD was bred to move large groups of cattle, many hundreds at one time. The ACD works alongside a stockman on horseback. Usually there would be several dogs and several stockmen working together to move a mob of cattle to market.

Doris:

In which fields are Tagetarl ACDs working?

Carol:

We have dogs that are working cattle every day on cattle properties throughout Australia. We also have breed dogs that do obedience and agility trials. We have bred a dog that is in the Australian Army and a Police dog and of course we also show.
Regarding shows.

Doris:

Do you believe dogs’ type changed over the year or changed from county to county, from country to country or even
is divided into show dogs type and a working type of ACD?

Carol:

No, there is a distinct difference between a working Border Collie or Kelpie and a show dog, but this is not so obvious in the ACD. Some kennels are producing dogs that are too heavy and not agile.The main difference in the breed today is the big gap between good dogs and very poor dogs. There are a lot more people in Australia breeding ACDs who do not have the knowledge of what the breed was designed to do, work cattle.M any new breeders in Australia just think that the ACD is a nice show dog. When the ACD is shown he must be constructed so that he can move freely and effortlessly and not be a heavy slow moving show dog.

Doris:
Thank you for this interview, Carol!


©Interview: Doris Duewel

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