History of the Mistretta Aussies by Victoria Mistretta
In the 1920’s my grandfather, William Peer owned thousands of head of sheep. The sheep were spread in various areas, reaching from Mt. St. Helens in Washington, to the Klamath River Ranch in Northern California. He owned three large ranches, two of which were in Oregon, the other in Northern California. He also leased land from private parties and had permits from the Forest Service to graze sheep. My father Russell S. Peer, as a young man, worked for his father packing supplies into the sheep camps in the mountains. During this time 1920 to 1922, my father had several Aussie-type dogs that accompanied him. As children he told my sisters and I many tales about his adventures. Unfortunately, because of the great depression, the sheep business was lost, bringing an end to this type of life for the family.
My first introduction to Aussies was in 1944 when I was 12 years old. My family had moved to a ranch in a remote valley in Northeastern Oregon. In Pine Valley and the town of Halfway there were numerous Aussies. Our neighbor had one which I really liked because of her personality and pretty blue coloring with blue eyes. From that point on I was smitten. The dogs in the valley were all working stock dogs. They worked cattle and sheep on ranches and on the open range.
In 1945 my teacher gave me my first Aussie for a Christmas present. I named him Tubby, for he looked like a little black bear-like ball of fur. He grew to be a beautiful tri color with a long tail and rich copper trim, with only a white spot on his chest. Tubby had all of the characteristics of the true Aussie and I adored him. He lived up to his breed by being an excellent ranch dog. Tubby helped move stock, bringing in stray cattle from the brush on the mountain, and kept a watch on the ranch to make sure no critter human or otherwise entered unnoticed. We spent many days together with my horse Coalie. During the summer, we went riding up in the mountains, swimming in the creek and playing in the snow in the winter. He was my buddy and was a great companion. In 1952, I got a blue merle female to go with Tubby and called her Tag. My intentions were to breed the two and perpetuate the good qualities I had found in Tubby. However it was not to be, because of getting married and moving to Great Falls, Montana, where my husband was stationed in the USAF. I could not have dogs and my folks could only keep Tubby at the time. We found a home for Tag, herding sheep in the Valley. In 1955, Tubby, while living with my folks in Sheridan Oregon, disappeared and we presumed he was killed for he never returned home.
It was not until 1963 when we bought a home in the Portland, Oregon area that I was able to pursue my interest in Aussies. I went back to Northeastern Oregon to get a puppy from the old line of dogs I’d had when I lived in Pine Valley. The dogs from this area in Eastern Oregon appeared in the early 1920’s. I brought back with me an old female who was still working at the age of 14 and her four month old female puppy whom I called Faline (Mistretta’s Faline Cara Mia). I also bought a pair of pups from Mrs. Upchurch out of the “Diamond A” line in 1967, Mistretta’s Francisca Di-Sal-Vita and Mistretta’s Don Diego. Later I found out that the old dog in the “Diamond A” pedigree, Baggerly’s Blue Boy was from the same area in Northeastern Oregon. Other parts of the Diamond A pedigree came from Northern California. You will find three Diamond A dogs in our pedigrees, Diamond A Pretty Bess, Diamond A Hondo, and Diamond A Huck Finn; all were sired by Baggerly’s Blue Boy, and were owned by different people. The dogs from Northeastern Oregon and the two from Mrs. Upchurch were the beginning of our present day line. There was also a line of Aussies in the Tualatin Valley area here in Northwestern Oregon, that could be traced back to the 1920’s. I also used some of these dogs from the Tualatin Valley area.
We were lucky because we started out with top dogs. They had all of the intelligence Aussies are so well known for and then some. Since then we have line bred, inbred and out crossed with several good lines, mostly from the Northwest, picking dogs that would compliment our own. Mistrettas Francisca Di-Sal-Vita, was one of the first in the show ring in 1968. Mistrettas Annette Di-Sal-Vita, was shown in the early 1970’s, before the championship program was put in to place. She had enough points to be a champion. Our first homebred champion, CH Mistrettas Ballou Pirate, was a beautiful blue merle with a perfect Aussie character. These two dogs were the first of our breeding to win in the show ring. Some other important descendants of our foundation dogs are Mistrettas Simbad, Mistrettas Misty Shadow, Mistrettas Fluffy Fantasy, Mistrettas Choctaw, CH Mistrettas Mi Amigo Magica CD, Mistrettas Azul Ojo de Magica, CH Mistrettas Gabriela Maja ATDd STDsc, Mistrettas Rebecca del Sol STDsc, WTCH Mistrettas Zagala con Ojo Zaca, CH Noah’s Raindancer ATDd OTDsc, Mistrettas Silver Rain CGC STDds TDInc, AKC/ASCA CH Mistrettas Macchiato Cane CD TDInc, Mistrettas Shadow Hawk DNA-CP, Mistrettas Mountain Flower, Daughter’s Darling DNA-CP, CH Mistrettas Taswatha Chenowuth ATDd OTDsc, WTCH Mistrettas PollyAnna, WTCH Mistrettas Painted Lizard RTDs DNA-CP…to mention a few.
In 1999 we, with some good people and many of our fine Aussies, earned the honor of Hall of Fame Kennel #30. To see the dogs who were a part of completing the requirements for this designation please visit our HOF page.
My daughter, Tina, joined me in 1970 as a partner with the Aussies. She is as dedicated to the breed as I am. She grew up with the Aussies and started showing in conformation when she was 11 years old. Like many other children who grew up with the Aussies, she traveled with me to many shows up and down the West Coast. We work together in all phases of our breeding program. Tina is the one who showed the dogs in conformation and in the trial arena. We have traveled many miles competing with the dogs. After taking a little break to acquire her BA in Geography, she started trialing in 1987 and since then has titled many of our dogs. Her last to compete with, CH Mistrettas Taswatha Chenowuth ATDd OTDsc was the most titled dog for 1994, in the ASC of Oregon, having earned her Championship, and her started ducks, sheep and cattle titles all in the same year. In 1994 Tasy was Conformation Bitch of the year and Started Trial Dog in the ASC of Oregon merit program. In 1995 Tasy was Open and Advanced Trial Dog of the year. In recent years because of illness Tina has not been able to compete in conformation and herding as she did.
We have had the opportunity to have an excellent trainer work with two of our dogs. Jan Wesen of Chuckanut Kelpies & Aussies, co-owned, trained and trialed WTCH Mistrettas PollyAnna and WTCH Mistrettas Painted Lizard RTDs DNA-CP. We have also been fortunate to have some other excellent handlers and owners work with some of our dogs. Judhi Chopping and Blake Osburn of Gearhart Aussies, co-owners of *Mistrettas Shadow Hawk DNA-CP, owners of WTCH Mistrettas Bandito Ballou CD RTDsc DNA-CP and now Mistrettas BeforeThe Thunder. Through Gearhart Aussies several linebred Mistretta pups have been placed in Europe.
Our friend Gale Rempel Of Thistleridge Aussies owned Mistrettas Silver Rain DNA-CP STDs HCT CGC, Gale carries on with some beautiful offspring of Silver who was her foundation sire.
Today we breed infrequently and with the intent to maintain the qualities we value in our line…to keep the dream alive…for information on our goals in breeding please visit the Introduction page.