The Impossible Dream- Origin of the Australian Cobberdog AS TOLD BY Beverley Rutland-Manners With a tribute to her daughter Mellodie Woolley
'RUTLAND' Grafenburg Just So. The last GSD I bred
"Rutlands Snuggles" ( later renamed Muggles )
My 'HEART DOG' breed for many years was the German Shepherd Dog but the health status within the breed was appalling, with 89 inherited diseases. The final straw for me was the agony of watching my beloved Rutland's suffering from the cruel disease anal furunculosis. Surgery was only minimally successful and the look in Rutland's eyes will stay in my heart forever. I promised him I wouldn't breed another GSD and I didn't. But at that point, due to discussions with my daughter Mellodie, I became obsessed with a desire to develop the healthiest dog breed on the planet.
Mellodie (Tegans) was convinced that Wally Conron had quit far too soon in his attempts to develop a reliably non shedding Guide Dog and she was later proven to be so right! I quickly caught hold of her vision and so I began to dream, which helped to ease the pain of abandoning my German Shepherd breeding program. This was way before DNA health testing was available to dog breeders, so it seemed like an impossible dream. But I had to try! Click or tap the link at foot of this page for DNA Reports on Rutlands Australian Cobberdogs.
ASSISTANCE Dogs can take two or more years of training before being placed with a disabled person. Waiting times are long and training expenses huge ( it costs about $30,000 ) Part of my vision for the new breed, was a highly developed intuition and human focus, which I hoped would translate into quicker and easier training outcomes. I had no idea if this could be achieved, and I take no credit for its incredible success. I didn't 'create' this breed. I have been and remain, just a willing tool who has done my best to respond appropriately to the talents given me by the one and only Creator God. It was my daughter who first caught the vision of starting off with the Labradoodle where its founder Wally Conran left off. As it turned out, this was the perfect starting place.
I wondered. Were personality traits embedded in genes in the same way that physical ones are? This concept was radical and unheard of at the time! My imagination ran riot as I thought of the possibility to develop a dog breed which had an innate, inborn intuition and a keen desire to absorb learning from a young age. If I could achieve this it could cut training time in half! A non shedding coat would also be wonderful for people who couldn't have the popular Labrador because they were allergic to dogs. This was just the challenge I needed to pull myself out of my grief for Rutland and the German Shepherd breed overall. The task ahead was huge, but I was excited!
The early years of breed development were fraught with set backs and health issues prior to DNA and other advanced health testing methods which were not available until years later. It was mainly trial and error and lots of emotionally deep and financially expensive disappointments occurred along the way. But occasionally a puppy would appear in a litter, who was 'different' in a wonderful way. These very special puppies were more interested at just a few weeks old, in seeking eye contact with you and being by your side than they were in playing with their own litter mates or even eating. I chose these very special puppies for breeding on with, hoping their incredible traits would become set features in the developing ALD breed.
Selectively breeding for specific traits eventually did produce consistency within what was then the Australian Labradoodle. But they became too popular for their own good. New breeders with doubtful agendas popped up like mushrooms but there was no controlling body to protect their integrity with judicious registration.
This major problem was then replaced by its equally destructive polar opposite. Several European and American groups set themselves up as registries which could have been a good thing, if only their mandates and guidelines had been remotely similar! They even established conflicting Breed Standards! With no regulatory controls pedigrees soon weren't worth the paper they were written on and breed type was lost to a large extent. One lovely Miniature stud male I sold to America was Rutlands Lil Brett. He sired scores of litters in his lifetime, all carrying an incorrect pedigree that someone changed from the original I provided. His ALAA pedigree (Australian Labradoodle Association of America) recorded seven cross breed Cockapoos (Poodle to Cocker Spaniel) in the first six generations! When I advised the ALAA of the error, they refused to correct it. Up to the current day in 2020 they still refuse to register any dog which carries what turned out to be the best breed infusion I ever did - The Irish Soft Coated Wheaten in 2004.
Rutlands Levi, donated to Canine Crossroads by Rutland Manor and trained for Joan Zatowski by Mindy Bradley
When i considered that the breed was consistent enough to be reliably offered as donations to Service Dog organizations for training, I approached a number of groups, but at that time no one would take the chance on an unknown breed, and they all turned me down. It was frustrating and disappointing, but I was determined not to give up. Eventually, in 2004, I contacted Susan Leuhrs who founded and operates Hawaii Fi Do Susan was open minded and receptive and I will always be grateful to her that she gave them the opportunity to show what they could do.
Rutland Manor first donated two puppies, called Mattie and Max to Hawaii Fi Do. Both were successfully accredited in a short time frame and Susan was impressed with their quick receptive minds and how quickly and easily they were trained to the level where they could be placed with a recipient family. The 100% success rate was thrilling , so Rutland Manor next donated adult breeding stock to Hawaii Fi Do which was soon running its own breeding program in Hawaii to produce their own Assistance Dogs.
Rutlands Max. Graduated and placed
Max and Mattie, 1st Rutlands puppies donated to Hawaii
'PUFF' a daughter of Lil Sari's and bred by Susan Leuhrs in Hawaii. All were Certified and Accredited.
"Beverley, I just wanted to let you see in these pictures what you have created in Hawaii - this is all your fault!! And we love it." Susan Leuhrs Hawaii Fi Do.
I will be forever grateful to you, Susan Leuhrs for your faith based only on my own recommendation when no one else would give them a try. You gave my fledgling breed its first opportunity to prove its worth as a Service or Assistance Dog, Therapy Dog and Medical Alert Dog. Thank you Susan, without you venturing into unknown waters this acceptance would have been years behind. I had the great pleasure and privilege of meeting Susan in person when she attended a Romp in California. With a big smile she placed a lei over my head and pronounced "Now you've been lei'd Beverley" (pronounced "laid") to an outburst of giggling from the crowd surrounding us! Beverley
I later donated Puppies to P.A.D.S in Canada, and also puppies and two adult breeding females to Canine Cross Roads (CCR) in Texas until tragically Mindi Bradley lost her battle with cancer and CCR was disbanded. The stories of LEVI and LILY, two of the Rutlands dogs donated to CCR can be viewed on this website on 'Born To Serve' pages. Link below.
Rutlands Lily trained by Mindy Bradley assists 14 yr old Kathryn giving the credit card to the cashier at the store
Mindy welcoming donated breeding females Rutlands Missaroo and Rutlands Dimity to Texas.