by Laura Stimatze, Stimatze Working Cow Dogs

The Lone Star Cattle Dog Futurity has surely had an  impact on the age to begin training for some of us.  I happened to luck out this year, my only prospects were born in July.  Both looked like really good pups, but I wasn't to keen on the idea of pushing them with early training and possibly ruining the life of a pretty good dog, just to make one dog trial.  The lucky part being, a phone call from a neighbor that had purchased a pup from my brother-in-law.  This dog was born in Dec.  He called me around the end of Nov. wanting to know if I had time to train the dog.  I had an opening on the 15th of December.

The dog was out of my brother-in-law's dog, Glory, which is by McCallums Tim x Crystal.  Glory is the toughest female momma cow dog I have ever seen.  She has a little bark to her, but she will be drawing blood on a nose at the same time.  Jag is the sire, he was raised by my husband Joe.  Jag is the best male pup we have raised out of Roo.  He will bite both ends and does it with a full mouth and draws blood, he is not the kind of dog you use on light calves.  He works in control but his bite will cripple a lighter calf.  He is out of Roo (McCallums Boss x Crystal) and Sledge, another good McCallum dog.  We had made this cross before and had a pretty good idea of what this dog could be.  At this time the idea of Futurity prospect was really not considered, around here we have my dogs and we have my husbands dogs, and the two are in no way considered the same.  So I was still wondering which of my dogs was going to go to Texas.

The owner of this dog is Galen Davis of St. John, Kansas.  Don't bother calling him, cause the dog IS NOT FOR SALE, as I was informed when I tried to buy him back, after his first go on cattle.  This dog was pretty much pen raised, other than a walk on a leash every now and then.  He became an escape artist and had been on cattle a few times before he came here.  They really did get angry with him when they couldn't catch him.  Silly thing kept going to the other side of the cattle.  Imagine a border collie doing such a thing.

The first time I put him on cattle, he was on balance in about 30 seconds and stayed there other than an occasional swing off the nose.  Which with the broke to death calves we were working definately put him out of position.  But sure was neat to see.  He was heeling occasionally but more focused on the nose.  After about 5 minutes I was trying desperately to figure out some story of why he really needed to sell this dog to me.  I kept this to myself for a couple of weeks and finally decided This dog had to go to the Futurity some how.  After a few weeks, I finally came up with a pretty good plan.  I didn't have to name my dog til June, because I had already paid my money up front.  So I told Galen, I might possibly want to take this dog to Texas. but really wouldn't know for sure til June.  By April I had made my mind up for sure, and worked out a deal with him on the training of the dog.  I pay the entry and expenses, take the winnings and he gets a very well trained dog in return.  He agreed, and I had my futurity dog, even if he wasn't by "MY" dogs. I couldn't resist.

Having a ten month time frame made the training format much easier.  First priority being, a very solid farm dog.  After about a month of work on broke calves, learning directions with body language, and having a very solid quick stop.  We went to the  pasture and started on 50 head of replacement heifers, that were pretty fresh.  The first couple of times out, were with a broke dog along to keep things together if need be.  There was no need.  This dog was really natural at keeping his stock together.  I worked the heifers all winter, this is where he learned an out run, we have a grove of trees in this pasture, close to the feed bunks, so he also learned to do blind , or somewhat blind outruns.  He learned, look back, and also learned to drive the cattle away from the bunk so the feed truck could get through.  The drive was taught on a rope, mostly for his own safety of not getting run over by a feed truck with very little brakes.

When the weather started warming up he was gathering  cattle spread out across wheat pasture and was going about a quarter mile to do it.  The coming of spring also meant, access to the heifers was getting limited seeing how they needed to be in prime condition for breeding.  So, we went back to the broke dogging calves and started the fine tuning.  Directions being the priority, but also learning to push cattle without going to the head, or heeling on command.  One of the very last things to learn was the keep off command.  To me, this is one of the most important things for a trial dog to learn, but the least important for the ranch dog.  Its a handy thing to have on the ranch , but not needed very often.

The last few months were spent on taking directions quickly, and going the right way every time.  I did get the opportunity to take this dog along to a couple of demonstrations and did get to work him twice on  fresh calves again.  In the summer time, the past couple of years , we have taken cow/calf pairs in on shares, so that was the only fresh cattle at home to work.  I prefer not to work a dog under two years old on momma cows, unless the are really over biting on the dogging calves.  I never back a dog off of cattle, until I am ready for the keep off command.  And that is only put on my trial dogs.  If they need backed off of cattle, I will let the cattle (momma cows) do the backing off.  An abusive dog on cattle in unnecessary around here and generally a few long days on fresh cows will teach a dog that there is a time to bite and a time not to.  It also tends to end hearing problems on the dog that forgets what stop means.  Stop becomes a word that he is really glad to hear. Anyway, my futurity dog was never put on the cows in his training, but will have to handle some cows in his future.

The name of  this dog is Sug, as in short for sugar.  He was named after my brother in law's nickname.  I hope I will have the opportunity to haul him to some Red River Trials next spring.  But for now I have the job of training his owner, Galen.  This might be the most important and hardest part of being a dog trainer. The future of this good dog will be in his owners hand.  He was good when he was born and I will only take a small amount of credit for his success.  It has been a very memorable year and I will always remember the first day I put this dog on cattle.  Breeding good cowdogs is not an easy thing, but when a dog comes along like this one, we can take a step back, scratch our chins, and say "Ahh!  Yes!! A COWDOG!!!!"

Laura Stimatze raises and trains cattle dogs , for a living. She also is a school bus driver and shares her knowledge of dog training with the county 4-Hers.  She is the winner of the 2001 Lone Star Cattle Dog Futurity and also placed 4th in the maturity with the same dog.  She was also the winner of the 2000 Red River Cattle Dog Ass, Open Dog of The Year with her dog Ace.  You may contact her at (620) 348-5815 or visit

Copyright 2001 to Infinity, NAAKR, Inc.  All rights reserved.

Posted November 7, 2001