Oaktree Border Collies
Interview by Jan Simmons
From: April 2004  "Stockdog Magazine"
I was able to sit down recently with Tom & Ruth Hines of Oaktree
Border Collies and ask them a few questions about their past and the
future of Oaktree.

1. Tom, I must ask you right off how you came to be in the

Jan, when I was 23 years old I had a massive stroke, Ruth and I had
only been married 3 years, but the Lord blessed me with a lady that
took her wedding vows to heart,  they were not just words she
repeated after the pastor. Up until my stroke I was a full time student
at Northeastern State University at Tahlequah, OK. and I raised and
trained (QH) race horses with my father.

2.  Tom, you and Ruth just came back from Houston, Texas
where you put on an exhibition for the Cattle Dog Trials at the
Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo.  What was that like?  

Three words, "it was awesome"!   Larry (Innerarity), Skeeter (Sitton)
and the whole cattle dog world should be so excited by the way we
were accepted in Houston. There were times it was standing room
only. I have been to fairs before and you get a rotating crowd, what I
mean by that is, people will watch 4-5 runs and then move on to
other things, but for the most part the folks in Houston were in awe of
the control the handlers had on their dogs and how they were able to
use the dogs to move the cattle through one obstacle to the next. I
have a friend who was filming the trial, and she told me later, there
were times she would stop filming the trial and film the expressions on
the audience's faces.---pretty cool huh?

I was there not just to watch some very good cattle dogs, but also by
invitation of the East Texas Neuro Support Group to try to help gain
awareness by the general public, that just because we are in a
wheelchair doesn't mean we have to sit on the sidelines any longer.
Thanks to the efforts of groups like the ETNSG, they are able to
reenter folks with disabilities back into the mainstream of activities.  I
would like to thank the ETNSG for hooking me up with Mr. Monty
Woodford of Texas Mobility who provided me the use of the Extreme
4x4 wheel chair during my exhibitions.

I did 2 exhibitions were I worked my dog Jack with my Message Mate
and I feel like Jack worked very nice from my device and he put on a
good demonstration for the crowd. The trial was beyond words, I
think it will become one of those things where you can say, I was
there when cattle dog business took it's first really big step!

3.  You mentioned a special device that you use to make the
calls to the dogs will you tell us a little about what happened
to you and why you need the device?

When I had my stroke in 1977 it not only left me in a chair, but also
unable to speak or make audible sounds. In 1999 I had the good
fortune to meet Larry Innerarity at my first LSCDF. We talked (with
the help of my wife)  about a number of things and I was able to
share with him my dream of competing and the kind of device I
thought it would take.  

I went home after the futurity and figured nothing would come of it,
but little did I know God was using Larry  & Todd to answer my
prayers. Larry turned my request over to Todd Petershagen of the
ETNSG and when I came for the 2000 futurity they told me they had
found what they thought would work for me, it was called the
Message Mate.  

I came home to Oklahoma and called the representative and he
brought one to my house for me to see, as they say, it wasn't
Memorex quality, but we felt like it just might work. The Message Mate
is a device that records sounds for children or adults with speech
problems to help them communicate with others. I just put the sounds
on the device to be able to communicate with my dogs. :)  

It is a small square box about 4 by 12 inches and about 2 inches
thick.  The model I have has 10 minutes of recording capacity. I have
4 layers of 40 squares and I can put as much or as little as I want in
each square, as long as I don't go over the 10 minutes. I use one
layer at a time when I work a dog.  I have different voices and
whistles on each of the layers, so depending on what dog I want to
work, I pick the layer that they need.

4.  How did you get started working with Border Collies and
cattle dog trialing?

In 1998 I got my first BC from Jerry Carte with the intentions of
training her to pick up things I had dropped, and to be a help to me
around the house, but that never happened. We started going to
trials to watch Jerry work the dogs and that old competitive bug was
still in me, I wanted to be out there working the dogs!

In 2001, Reba and me put on an exhibition at the LSCDF using the
Message Mate. That was a very special time for a number of
reasons, but little did I know it was my last dance with Reba, because
I lost her shortly after the futurity. I'll always be thankful to the LSCDF
for letting us have that last dance. I'm finding out the stronger the
bond I have with the dog, the better they do on my device, but that's
probably true for everyone.

In 2002, I became the first person to compete in the LSCDF from a
wheelchair (with Kelli). I think we were 44th out of 90 entries, so that
wasn't too bad for the first time.

This year, 2004, me and Jack exhibited at the Houston Livestock
Show & Rodeo. Jack is my buddy, there are tougher cow dogs, but
we have a friendship where we both overlook each others

At Houston we saw the return of Chuck Thibodeaux, Chuck had a
spinal cord stroke and
it put him in a wheelchair also. Chuck did a super job!  

5. Your kennel name is 'Oaktree Border Collies', are BCs the
only breed of dog you (personally) use to herd cattle?  

We only use BC's. I do have one Australian Shepherd, but her only
purpose is to make us smile!  She "waddles"  when she walks.  But
she has become the kennel babysitter, she just loves the puppies
and is so good with them.  We use her to get the puppies started
taking long walks.  They tend to want to follow Penny, so it gives the
momma a break from the puppies. :)

6.  Your wife, Ruth, participated in the Houston Livestock
Show and Rodeo this year didn't she?

Yes, and she did a great job with her dog Kelli!  Ruth and Kelli had a
perfect score, but their time was not fast enough to place them in the
top three.  

How long has she been working with the dogs and participating in
trials? Just about a year and a half. This is a lady that grew up not
owning a single pet, not even a gold fish. I've seen her run the goats
& sheep over the top of herself, because she had no idea where to
stand or what the livestock would do when the dog pushes them.  If
you want to talk about starting at the very bottom, then that's Ruth,
but she has made remarkable progress in such a short time. If we
can raise the right dog, I predict there is a LSCDF winners circle not
too far down the road for her.

7.   I know you are raising some future champions at your
kennels, what else do you foresee in Oaktree's future?  

Our goal is to have 4 or 5 really nice stud dogs that will meet the
needs and wants of everyone. I like to work cattle the best, but I know
some folks like to work sheep best. I'm trying to get lines in my dogs
that will work and do a good job on both.

To my knowledge there has never been one dog to win the LSCDF
and the National Sheep Finals, I want to see the first dog to
accomplish that, sired by an Oaktree stud. If it never happens, as
long as we have fun and make a lot of friends, then that's all that
really matters.

8.   I admire you for doing something you so obviously love,
but I have to ask - Where do you get the courage to get in a
ring with a bunch of cows?  and, in front of so many people?  

Have you ever heard the term "Dumb Okie"?

9.  I have some inside information that you and Ruth did a very
nice thing for a young girl in Texas on your way to Houston.  
Will you share that story with us?

A little girl (Rachel Krueger) lost her BC and God just happened to
use us, so He could answer her prayer. (On their way to Houston,
Tom & Ruth met Rachel on the highway and gave her a pup that she
named 'Texas Star'.)

For all my friends, disabled or not, I'd like to leave you with this quote

Live, Laugh and Love each and every day.  
Hold on tight to your Dreams... and one day...... Those Dreams may
in fact, become Realities......

Tom and Hatsoff Jack get in a little practice before  
heading off to Houston, for their exhibition at the
  Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo.

       Penny AKA Miss Waddles

Tom & Jack leave the arena after exhibiting their herding ability.
The audience sat in silence as Tom and Jack maneuvered the cattle
around the arena from his wheel chair & with the use of his Message

Charlie Martin (above) and Todd Petershagen (below) of the
East Texas Neuro Support Group.

Monty Woodford of Texas Mobility

Tom & Reba (with Larry Innerarity)
2001 Futurity Exhibition

Tom & Reba as a pup.

Ruth & Kelli

Tom & Ruth Hines