Acquired: Other (stray, given dog by friend etc.)
Posted October 1, 2013
When my first son was born, I brought home a little puppy we named General Lee. He is an Australian Shepherd and Lab mix. He really favors the Australian Shepherd in body and coloring, but favors the lab in coat length.
I assumed that these two breeds together would be great, since we planned on having young children around for a number of years, and I knew that Labs were gentle and Australian Shepherds were watchful and herders. I was proved right on both accounts. General proved to be a loving and devoted family dog. He was smart and easy to train, and was housebroken with very little effort.
My wife and I were teaching in a small private school at the time, and this caused us to be gone during the day Monday through Friday. General exhibited signs of separation anxiety from early on, so we trained him to go in his crate. The long hours alone proved too much for him, and he did a fair amount of damage to the floor beneath his crate while we were gone during the day.
The sheep dog in him causes him to be very watchful over the children. He would often try to "herd" our children away from areas he didn't feel comfortable with. While this behavior was nice, it proved to be problematic when we moved to a house with a large fenced in back yard. General was not allowed inside at our new house, as we were renting, and the owner did not allow dogs in the house. When our children were outside in the back yard, General was fine. However, when they would leave the fenced in yard and play out front he would bark non-stop, and try to get to where they were. This went on for the next four years. He would literally bark for hours if he heard the kids outside in the front yard.
On the pros side, he is a great watch dog and extremely protective of my wife and children. He definitely takes after the Australian Shepherd more than the Lab. He is high strung and nervous in new situations. He gets motion sickness when travelling to the vet.
I would probably not get another dog of this breed again, unless I lived in the country with a lot of room for him to run. We love him, but I think I have learned my lesson.
By SamyG (Own work) [CC-BY-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons