There are two main reasons one might get an Aussie:
1. If you're a farmer with a herd to keep, you get an Australian Shepherd for practical purposes (i.e. herding)
2. If you're the average non-livestock-owning American, and if you're being honest with yourself, there is really only ONE reason you get an Aussie: because you know they are the SMARTEST breed (second only to border collies, but they have OCD which dq's them off the list...) and by having the SMARTEST breed you're making a statement which reflects your OWN superior intelligence.
We pretty much got Rucker (I wanted a basset hound, the polar opposite of an aussie) because Luke meets lots of people with dogs, and he was most impressed with Aussies. Let me rephrase that- he was mostly impressed with the STORIES people told about their aussies. Stories about aussies who know that every Tuesday is "park" day. Stories about Aussies who clean up their chew toys & neatly arrange them in their toy basket. Stories about Aussies who save wayward children from wandering into a lake. In a way, we thought we were getting a combination maid/baby sitter by getting an Aussie.
Well what we got....was Rucker. Now I LOVE MY DOG. But let me put it this way- when people find out I have an Aussie they say, "Oh! Aren't those dogs REALLY smart?" My response is "Yeah, but ours is just....average." And it's true. Some aussie owners flaunt bumper stickers that say, "My Aussie is smarter than your honor student." I'm pretty skilled in the art of denial, but that is where my conscience draws the line.
Case in Point:
I watched a PBS show on skunks last week (my parents have a skunk problem, so I was interested). It explained that skunks have a distinct black and white stripe pattern (not to mention a serious stench) which helps animals recognize & AVOID them. You know, the whole "fool me once..." idea. Then it showed video footage of coyotes and cougars approaching, recognizing, & then running away from skunks.
The FIRST time Rucker was sprayed by a skunk he came into my parent's house crying and with strings of drool coming from his mouth (a sign of nausea & serious distress in dogs). Then he had to endure baths of tomato juice, hydrogen peroxide, and baking soda- all administered by my mom who is very thorough. Rucker hates baths. I felt bad for both him & my mom but figured it was kinda like chicken pox- you suffer through it once & then you're done.
Rucker was sprayed AGAIN Monday night. Poor mom was out of tomato juice, so Rucker got an abbreviated treatment of hydrogen peroxide & baking soda. Rucker got only moderately clean because mid way through Mom got a knock on the head when Rucker attempted escape, tangled in the shower curtain, and tore the rod off the wall. Oops. She returned Rucker the next day.
Now after 2 days of skunk stench I could take it no longer- I decided to bathe rucker inside (normally this is an outdoor activity but it was dark & cold).....
The Good News, a short list:
1. my dog doesn't stink so bad
2. my bathroom floor and walls got drenched, which means my floor got mopped
The Bad News, a lengthy list:
1. I knew it would be messy, so I got naked & stood in the tub with the dog. I forgot, until it was too late, that Rucker tends to pee whenever he is in standing water.
2. You know how lizards lose their tail as a means of escape from predators in the wild? Well my dog does the same thing with his fur while being bathed. Because it was a team event I was covered in dog hair from head to toe by the time he was clean. I looked like a werewolf- coated in black hair.
3. It is nearly impossible to wipe up wet dog hair- especially off walls or porcelain. You try to wipe it off with a towel & it just smears whatever hair miraculously got on the towel back onto whatever you're wiping. The good news is that by TRYING to wipe it up with a towel you effectively COMB the dog hair in one direction, thereby improving the aesthetic appeal of dog fur on your sink and toilet.
4. No matter what attempt I make to towel dry and blow dry my dog, he inevitably ends up taking matters into his own paws by army-crawling up & down the wool rug, bedspread, and couch cushions in effort to dry himself.
I know this was a ridiculously long post. I just had to contrast the reasons I got an Aussie & the reality of owning one. Do you know what our dog's nickname is? "shouldagottheotherpuppy."