by Jeanne Joy Hartnagle-Taylor and Ernest Hartnagle
After Bob Carrillo passed away in 2007, we were asked to write an article about him for the Aussie community. I called my parents and we started talking about the past thirty-five years that we knew him. Most people know that Robert Carrillo was associated with the ASCA Stockdog Program and at one time, he was the Stock Dog Committee chairman. This is true, but for my family it goes far beyond that. We were fortunate to know the man behind the program.
Who was Robert Carrillo? What most people may not realize is that the Carrillo name was prominent throughout California history*. His ancestor, Maria Ignacia López, married Joaquin Victor Carrillo, a soldier for the Spanish government of California, in 1809, at the age of 16. When Joaquin retired they moved their large family from the San Diego Presidio (fortress) to the Ruiz adobe, the first home built outside the Presidio, in what is now Old San Diego. It was built by Comandante Francisco Maria Ruiz, a fellow soldier and close relative. Part of the Ruiz/Carrillo adobe still stands. It is known as the Casa de Carrillo and is an historical landmark located on the grounds of the Presidio Golf Course in San Diego.
Around 1835, when Maria Ignacia was only 43, Joaquin Victor died. Three of their twelve children were already married: Maria Antonia, known as Josefa, Maria Ramona, and Francisca Benicia. With the remaining nine, who ranged from 3 to 28 years, the widow Doña Carrillo left San Diego and made the arduous trek out to what was then the northern frontier, to settle near the home of her married daughter Francisca Benicia. Francisca's husband was Mariano Guadalupe Vallejo, who was established as the commander of the Mexican forces north of the Presidio of San Francisco. He colonized and established Mexican settlements in the area north of San Francisco Bay.
Señora Carrillo petitioned for the first land grant along the banks of the Santa Rosa Creek in the newly independent Mexico. She was deeded the Rancho Cabeza de Santa Rosa (8,888 acres). The original Carrillo adobe structure, regarded as the birthplace of Santa Rosa, still stands. Before she died, she divided her land among her daughters and sons.
Not only was Bob of Carrillo heritage, but he was also a great grandson of General Vallejo, who founded Sonoma, and who eventually was rewarded the Petaluma Valley (over 66,000 acres) to build his private ranch. Vallejo was also later deeded Rancho Soscol as remuneration for past services. This extended his estate down to San Francisco Bay and to the southwest, to the location of the present-day city which bears his name. On this estate he grazed over ten thousand cattle, thousands of sheep and somewhere between four to six thousand head of horses.
With a rich heritage of ranching culture, Bob was a proud man. He had determination which some people may describe as hard headed, but nevertheless, he had a vision and was unwavering in achieving those goals. He was the ramrod behind the ASCA Stockdog program and designed Course A. My father, Ernie Hartnagle, contends had he not been steadfast, the Stockdog program might never have had the far-reaching effects it has had for the breed. Today it is utilized internationally.
We became acquainted with Bob and Jean Carrillo in 1973. They were among the original twenty-four people to attend the meeting in Redding California to decide ASCA’s future. Steve Stephenson, who had been appointed as the Stockdog Certification Chairman, had drafted a rough agenda and some trial rules based on the International Sheep Dog Society (ISDS) regulations. Bob, who was concerned Steve’s proposal didn’t accurately represent the breed, was then named Chairman. Steve Stevenson, my father, Walter Lamar and Phil Wildhagen made up the original committee (While Phil wasn’t a stockdog person, he was in charge of wording the rules correctly).
The Carrillos invited my parents to stay at their ranch in Sebastopol. They had a lot in common and became fast friends. My parents invited Bob and Jean to come to Colorado. In September, they were guests at our place. Dad was judging at the first ever all-breed sheep, cattle and duck trial.
One of the most vivid memories I have is of that following spring. We had just hosted the first ASCA stockdog trial. As the program was being designed, it was being tested and revised in actual trial situations. Bob, Walt Lamar, Carol Schmutz and my father were sitting at our dining room table discussing the trial and working on revisions to the program. The most delicious aroma permeated the house as Jean Carrillo, Joy Lamar and my mother prepared a fabulous feast in the kitchen.
A few months later, Bob organized the Santa Rosa invitational at the Sonoma County Fairgrounds, which by the way was the land where the original land grant was given to the Carrillo family. He had selected the top working ranch dogs at the time, Sorensen’s Cherry Brandy, Champion Las Rocosa Leslie, Rowe’s Comanche Warrior, King’s K Troy, Casa de Carrillo Jenny, among several others. The dogs earned the title CSD which stood for Certified Stock Dog, although today people have changed it to CWD.
You can’t talk about Bob Carrillo without mentioning his lovely and elegant wife, Jean. Although, she was trained as an opera singer and dearly loved the theater, she devoted her life to helping her husband realize his goals. They both grew up around Sonoma County and went to school in Sebastopol. They graduated from Analy High School* where they first met and fell in love. Bob asked for her hand in marriage and in 1944 they got married.
He was inducted in the Army in 1945. As he was shipping out, passing under the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, he received word their beautiful daughter Joan was being born. While Jean was the love of his life, Joan was the apple of his eye. Bob saw his tour of duty in the Pacific Theater. He returned home a decorated veteran.
After Bob got home from overseas, they started building the foundation for their purebred Guernsey herd. The milk was shipped under the Golden Guernsey trademark seal. Guernsey milk has been long known for its high milk butterfat content, high protein and a high concentration of beta carotene, which gives the milk a distinctive golden color and rich flavor. They competed on the California fair circuit and were very successful.
In 1953, they moved from his father’s ranch in Santa Rosa to a property in Novato (between San Francisco and Santa Rosa). They entered into a business partnership with a man and bought out his Holstein herd. As part of the deal, they acquired their first Australian Shepherd, a pretty blue female named Cookie.
The ranch was located in Marin County on very rough coastal terrain with a lot of trees and steep ravines. Cookie soon demonstrated her natural working ability when she went out unassisted to bring cows in from the open fields and wooded canyons. She was invaluable to their operation. She was the beginning of a line of farm and ranch dogs raised under Casa de Carrillo banner.
They used their dogs in pairs in two shifts. In the spring they milked at 3:00 a.m. and again at 3:00 p.m. Before dawn they started bringing the herd in for the morning milking. In order to locate the cattle in the dark, Bob put bells on some of the cows. He would give the dogs the command, “Find the bell” and away they would go.
Once Cookie saved seventeen heifers out of the flooded Laguna (de Santa Rosa) river, the largest tributary of the Russian River, by swimming them to high ground during a winter flood. She swam through the raging water to save the group of yearlings which had gotten stranded on a small island.
Nobody knows how she was able to do it, but Cookie could separate their purebred fawn and white Guernsey cows from the black and white Holstein cattle, apparently by color. Among many qualities, she passed that particular trait to succeeding generations including her great-great granddaughter, Casa de Carrillo Cissy Bird RD. Cissy was also able to sort cattle by color and was exceptionally useful for finding lost calves among the oaks,. On one occasion, Tammy, a granddaughter of Cookie, amazed milk inspectors with this special talent. Later, with a twinkle in his eye, Bob quipped with them as they were leaving, “I am sorry, gentlemen, but I have never been able to teach these ‘dumb’ dogs to close the gate.”
Another strong trait in that line was longevity. Cookie had lived to the ripe old age of 18 and her son Kelpie lived to 17. At twelve years of age, Cissy was still actively working on the ranch.
In 1962, the Carrillos moved to a 500 acre ranch on the rolling coastal hills in Sebastopol, California. They ran a herd of 300 head of commercial and purebred dairy cows there. Around 1975 they sold the dairy business and started running about 500 Corriedale ewes and about 100 commercial beef cows.
Bob’s contributions to ASCA were based on his firsthand experiences with the breed. To further his knowledge of sheep handling methods, Carrillos traveled to Australia in 1978. They spent six weeks at the Elfinvale Kelpie Stud in Coleraine in southwest Victoria, where Tim and Judy Austin raised over 10,000 head of Merino sheep.
Bob Carrillo was both proud and highly competitive, which stemmed from his boyhood days on the California fair circuit showing his father's prize winning Duroc hogs. When he judged he was always well dressed and carried himself with a military bearing which commanded the respect of the people around him. While he was the one in the public eye, he could never have accomplished all he did without the support of his wife who was really the wind beneath his wings.
In 1997, Jean passed away. Bob was called to greener pastures in 2007. Most of the ranch that helped birth the stockdog program is now planted in grapes. The rest is open space and wildlife habitat with native trees and a stand of century-old cypress trees. We’ll always remember them for their dedication to the stockdog program and for being such gracious hosts.
(editor's note) *for a fascinating full account of Maria Ignacia Lopez's life, see: "Doña Maria of Two Adobes" by historian Glen Burch.
*Analy High School is the same school both his granddaughters, Alycia and Leah also graduated from.
Interesting side note: Joan Carrillo was the last of the Carrillos to be married in the Mission San Francisco de Solano in Sonoma (the northernmost and last mission to be established at the end of El Camino Real) where her great-great-great grandmother is buried. She attended high school in Novato. Every morning before she went to school, she drove a 1 ton cattle truck with a flat bed to deliver 50 cans of milk at the co-op in Petaluma.
© Jeanne-Joy Hartnagle Taylor and Ernest Hartnagle March 2008