The Tail of Three Heelers
By Ty Walker
Gary Randall has had three dogs over the past 35 years he’s lived in the foothills of Mount Hood. Sadie, Betty and Hazel, all females, came and went in succession one replacing the other as each passed on.
He has loved all three of these Australian cattle dogs, better known as blue or red heelers, giving each of them an old-fashioned female name. He says girls are less aggressive and more submissive than their male counterparts.
This is the tale of Gary’s heelers, who have seen him through good times and bad.
Since he welcomed Hazel, his newest of the breed, into his life, good times are rolling again on four legs. Randall remembers the day he first met the brindle red heeler puppy.
Still mourning the loss of Betty, who died a year and a half ago, Gary visited a working dog breeder at the urging of his wife, Darlene. That’s where his tiny new heeler singled him out.
“I got down on my knees and she curled up right between my legs,” Gary said. “She instantly came to me and, of course, I just melted. She has completely captured our world since then. She’s been excellent therapy for me.
“She is the perfect little dog. I love her a lot. She has developed into a happy little dog.”
But before Hazel was a twinkle in his eye, Gary had a special bond with his second dog he will never forget. He loved Betty. From the time he rescued her when she was an 8-month-old stray until her dying day, Betty was his faithful canine companion.
Following in the paw prints of his first heeler, Betty lived a long adventurous life for all of her 15 years, hiking, camping and taking trips to exotic locations around the country. She tagged along with Gary on guided tours he still offers as part of his photography business.
“Betty was part of my therapy, my regrowth as a new person after my other life fell apart,” Gary said.
Betty and Gary were inseparable as he faced some difficult times. She helped him get through a divorce, the deaths of his father and brother, and the loss of a job.
“She was the perfect companion,” Gary said. “I had Betty before I even met my wife Darlene.
That was one reason my heart was so invested in that dog because It was just her and I for so long.”
Betty acted like a guide dog for Sadie as Gary’s first blue heeler got old, lost her sight and her legs gave out. Both dogs lived together for a while, with Betty eventually replacing Sadie when she died.
Another dog’s life later found Gary devastated again when Betty passed away. That is, until Hazel came along.
Hazel, like her breed, likes to keep active. She enjoys hiking along the Sandy River behind Gary’s house and would play go-fetch all day with a ball if you’ve got the time and energy.
Check out Gary’s Facebook page and you’ll see Hazel’s got her own kind of fan club. When he’s not photographing landscapes like Mount Hood, Gary likes to read, write and collect local history.