Sweetie is a very special guest featured in today’s column. She is a member of the Dark Matters founding family and quite beloved by all 2 and 4 legged creatures and possibly no legged creatures – as in those that swim in tanks.
Sweetie is a devoted younger sister to her older human sister and has watched her grow from a grade schooler to a double digit adolescent. She’s a fierce protector of her younger human brother as they rough and tumble: she’s been there every step of the way from diapers to grade school. Lastly, she’s a good pet sibling to her animal siblings as they live amongst each other in harmony.
Sweetie is also from a breed unique to Northern California: the McNab Dog Breed.
The McNab is also known as: “McNab Sheepdog, McNab Herding Dog, McNab shepherd or a McNab Border Collie. The McNab Shepherd is a working dog Breed.”
The breed is the brainchild of Alexander McNab in the late 1800s.
This is a wonderful story of love and devotion to a working dog breed that is near and dear to my heart – the collie.
Alexander McCab migrated to Northern California in 1866, from Glasgow, Scotland and his family arrived shortly thereafter. He established a large sheep ranch on a 10,000 acre homestead in Mendocino County.
Flora, the Scotch Collie from Scotland was the first official dog on the ranch. If not for her the sheep could not herd. Which is what happened after she crossed the rainbow bridge. The family just could not do it themselves. The story goes that one afternoon in the fall of 1885 the family tried to shepherd their 3000 sheep without a dog and just as they reached the corral gate one sheep took off and the rest followed. That was the last straw: it was either give up the sheep business or high tail it back to Scotland for another dog. Well it was a good thing he opted to pack set off for Scotland and bring back 2 black and white Scotch Collies, Peter and his half-brother, Fred. There was some drama with Fred where the story goes into more detail on the McNab Shepherd Registry web site https://www.mcnabshepherdregistry.com/dog/history/ but Fred leaves for his new life in California with his half-brother and both dogs outperform any other working dog in town.
People take notice. Who are these glorious dogs and where can they get one?
McNab seemed to understand that breeding might have something to do with it and so he took notice of the brown herding dogs owned by the local Spanish Basque migrants. They were well suited to both herding and the warm California climate. He proceeded to breed Fred and Peter with a number of females owned by these Basque sheepherders. McNab returned to Scotland and brought back several more Scotch Collies for select breeding. He eventually bred a distinct upright herding dog known for its “head” or “heel” and “bark” or “bite” herding qualities.
“When Alexander left his motherland Scotland to travel to homestead a 10,000-acre sheep ranch located in the Hopland, California, he needed a good herding dog which can handle the harsh conditions commonly found in Northern California such as heat, burrs, foxtails, rugged terrain and also look out for the wild predators.”
So he found a good solid breed!
“Alexander McNab crossed the Scottish border Collies he had brought with him with the tough dogs of the nomadic Basque sheepherders he had met in the ranch, and this new breed came to be known as the McNab Shepherds.”
They became the go-to herding dog among California ranchers and beyond, bred for their ability to “withstand the tough conditions found in California such heat, rugged terrain, and foxtails”.
“Later, in the early 1900s, John McNab, his youngest son, becomes the sole owner of the ranch. He took a keen interest and started experimenting by adding bloodlines from dogs imported from Scotland.”
If you are thinking of bringing one of these regal beings into your family I think this sums it nicely: https://www.pets4homes.co.uk/pet-advice/all-about-the-mcnab-dog-breed.html#
“A McNab is a warm and friendly character, they are an ideal choice as a family pet because they adore people, children and other household pets because they don’t tend to be as highly strung as their cousins. They are renowned for their loyalty towards their owners and are also extremely protective. The breed is also highly intelligent but wary around strangers. The one thing a McNab has is a heart of gold and will be a valued member of a family for a very long time as they live for 15 years if well cared for.”
“What was that, Sweetie?”
Author: Sherri Margolin (Dark Matters)