I was completely wrong! When Deb and I adopted Nellie (then a nine-month old stray) from the animal shelter four months ago, I guessed that she was a Labrador retriever-Australian shepherd cross. As one of my Christmas presents, my son and daughter-in-law ordered a DNA test for Nellie. It turns out that Nellie is one-half golden retriever and one-half Australian cattle dog. Knowing that, I understand a lot more about Nellie. She is off-the-charts smart, and both golden retrievers and Australian cattle dogs rank in the top-ten in breed intelligence. Also, something about Nellie has always made me think of a dingo. Since Australian cattle dogs are one-half dingo, that means Nellie is one-quarter dingo.

Additionally, I learned that her light nipping at my feet is more than just playfulness—she’s trying to herd me, as a cattle dog would. Finally I learned that the other half of an Australian cattle dog’s ancestry is a smooth-coated collie. That explains Nellie’s “Lassie bark,” telling us that once again Timmy has fallen into the well!