Forgive the digression, but I wanted to go off on a mild tangent about dogs. Ranch dogs, to be exact. Fictional ranch dogs, specifically. These are fake dogs inspired by dogs I have known and dogs I have heard and read about.
I’m talking about the dogs in my series of Western love stories. Those novels are set on a ranch in Arizona called the Tipped Z. Each title features dogs to varying degrees. And these dogs are perhaps the number one thing readers ask me about with regards to these books.
So far I haven’t ever provided a very thorough answer. Due to a recent resurgence in speculation on the topic, I am going to do so now.
Dogs and ranches
Anyone who has ever spent much time on a working ranch knows there are pretty much always dogs around. For me, the ranch I’ve spent the most time on is located outside Prescott, Arizona. My father has been connected to this place since his childhood and my brother ended up with a dog that was born and bred up there. In the case of this dog, she’s a cross between two working parents—a hound type and a herding type. Her name is Winnie and she is a formidable personality.
Winnie in Hawaii
You may be wondering, what kind of hound? What kind of herding dog? And this is where the questions get harder to answer. The ranch where my brother got that dog is like a lot of ranches. It’s a place that has supported people, cattle, horses, and dogs for generations. The dogs there aren’t the type you buy at a pet store or even find on the internet. They often originated with some breed or other, but they have been cultivated by the particular ranchers working that particular land to do best what their operation needs most.
What’s a Nevada Fuzzy?
I should clarify here that I have never actually met a Nevada Fuzzy. However, I’ve heard stories of people who ride and train horses in the same style I portray in my books using these dogs. They are mid-sized and bred to work. This variation in particular is often associated with Winecup Gamble ranch in Nevada. Another similar variation is the Idaho Shag. These dogs aren’t defined so much in terms of looks or physical breed characteristics as work ethic and suitability to do a job. They often come from thoroughly mixed backgrounds and may have recently or distantly included bloodlines of the Border Collie, Australian Shepherd, Kelpie, Australian Cattle Dog, Airedale, Westie Terrier, and many others.
So what about Dots and Lop and the others?
Obviously, the dogs on the Tipped Z don’t really exist. However, in the world of the stories they are from a line of dogs like those mentioned above. Clint and his father and his grandfather have been breeding these dogs for generations. They’ve used various working dog types to fill in where needed. I’d be willing to bet there’s Australian Shepherd in there, along with something that brings in the shag, and who knows what else?
So to get back to our original question: is Dots (Clint’s dog from A Man Who Rides) a Nevada Fuzzy? The answer is no. She is not. But she’s also not anything else.
She’s a Tipped Z dog, through and through. I wish I had a photo of her to close with, but alas, to see her and the others you will have to use your imagination.