Now my educated search began. I spent nearly a year hauling stacks of books home from the library, as well as combing through magazines. I had decided that it was time to fulfill my lifelong dream of becoming a breeder. It wasn't that I figured if I'm going to buy a purebred dog I might as well get my money back by breeding it (an attitude I have found many people have when acquiring a purebred dog.) It was that I had always wanted to breed dogs, and now the time had come. I had always wanted to 'make a difference' in a breed, like breeding out a health problem, or creating a new breed. I could fulfill the family's wish for a pet and my goal of breeding at the same time.
Because of this, my research wasn't just in to what breeds are small, smart and healthy. Some breeds have become so popular that competing in the show ring is extremely difficult, and finding good homes for puppies is equally difficult. Selling puppies was not my goal, but a breeder can't keep every puppy, so finding quality homes for puppies is a necessity. The average person on the street may feel, "Why pay a few hundred dollars for a dog from you, when I can get a purebred around the corner for $25?" Because of this attitude I didn't want a breed that had been 'over bred'.
I was looking at a dog magazine one day and saw an ad for Miniature Australian Shepherds. I called the breeder, who happened to live nearby, and learned something about the mini's history. I was told there was a show coming up not far from me in just a few weeks. When Danny got home that evening he said, "Lynn, Australian Shepherds are great dogs, but they are just too big and too hyper." (His Aussies had been 1/4 Border Collie.) I reminded him that these were miniatures and he agreed to go take a look.
We got to the show and fell in love! In fact, Danny was ready to take one of them home then and there! We were put on a waiting list and I went home to do yet more research. Thankfully there was a very thorough book available, Jeanne Joy Hartnagle's "All About Aussies", published by Alpine. I went to the library and checked it out and read it from cover to cover. Then I went out and bought a copy so that I could read it again, underlining and annotating. (I can't read a book unless I have a pen in my hand!)
The Aussie was everything I wanted, eager to please, good with family, good watch dog but not aggressive, easy to groom, uncommon enough to not be found on every corner (especially the minis), and to top it off, beautiful! Each dog is totally unique, which makes the breed even more fun.
After several years in the mini world, I decided that the best way to promote the mini Aussie was to prove to people that the minis weren't a 'separate breed', but merely small dogs that have always existed in the Aussie gene pool. So now I am breeding both minis and small AKC Aussies. While my AKC dogs may never be as small as most 'minis', my goal is to maintain the 17"-19" size range that has always occurred in the Australian Shepherd.