I got my first Aussie as a birthday present when I was eleven years old. He was my best friend and constant companion for three years. He had to be put down then due to epilepsy and a little part of me was put down, too. I felt like I was losing a child -- I suppose; I've never lost a child, but even now after actually becoming a mother, the loss of that dog doesn't hurt any less.
I spent a lot of time around Aussie breeders as a child because I had become so infatuated with the breed. When Freckles went, I tried to have other dogs, but never could quite love them as any more than an animal -- as opposed to my best friend and a part of my family.
A few weeks ago, over ten years after getting my first baby, I found Sooner in an ad in TulsaWorld. I had been shopping around for a new pet for who-knows-how-long, and I was skeptical about Mini's because of all the opposing views I've heard. I don't think these people have ever owned a Miniature. Sooner is a lot of Aussie in a little package.
He is registered, and therefore purebred. No other breed of dog was used to achieve his small stature -- just small Australian Shepherds. It's on paper if you don't believe me.
It's true that the AKC doesn't recognize any variation in size on the part of the Australian Shepherd... because there is no real standard for size; it states a preferred size, but says that "quality is not to be sacrificed in favor of size."
I do realize there are some breeders out there that are turning out less than quality Miniature and "toy" Aussies... breeding dogs with bulging eyes, domed heads, prick ears, etc., for the sake of size. It is my belief that if one is going to breed a smaller Aussie, it should still maintain the correct conformation and be free of congenital defects.
Sooner is everything I was looking for in an Australian Shepherd -- intelligent, beautiful, friendly, ready and willing to learn, and great with my daughter (although he can be somewhat aggressive during play, which is fairly typical of the breed. Not that she doesn't enjoy it!). He is a gorgeous blue merle, and looking at a picture with nothing to compare size, one would never guess he wasn't "standard" size.
The whole family is infatuated with Sooner. He is what was missing in my life for so long.