There is something extraordinary about the working dog…to the extent that I cannot imagine being here on the place without them. Their loyalty is unquestionable (most of the time for some of them😊) and there is not a place that my husband could go where they would not follow. One of the sights that always makes me smile is seeing Tim heading around the place surrounded by his team of hard-working stock workers. Our team is made up of dogs that are all unique and very much have their own personality, but somehow, they come together to balance each other out.
Bow is our most experienced dog on the team who is the real thinker of the group. He seems to have an uncanny knack of figuring out exactly what Tim is wanting to do with the cattle and always puts himself where he needs to be to make it happen. Also, the largest dog (in fact if he leans on you at all there is a high probability that your leg will go to sleep), he is the epitome of a gentle giant. A huge fan of pats and snuggles, he has impeccable manners and will never jump or ask for affection, but rather prefers to stand very close to you patiently waiting for you to notice that he is there. His level of patience, particularly with pups, is unparalleled and he puts up with a lot from the other dogs, despite being the biggest😊 Bow is super friendly to everyone, but he definitely is the loyalist, for his eyes never leave Tim. It has always amazed me what dogs are able to understand, for he only has to hear the sounds of Tim’s footsteps and he is there, right by his side, always so keen to work and give 150% every time.
Casper is the oldest dog (who is still working) and her and Tim have a bit of a love/hate relationship. Super affectionate, unlike Bow, she has absolutely no patience whatsoever and will demonstrate her love and affection in a very full-on way! She loves to lick your face at every opportunity and is particularly adept at managing to do so every time she is on the back of the ute. Hence, why her and Tim don’t always see eye to eye as he hates being licked in the face and Casper just cannot help it:) She is the lead vocalist of the group, often getting the others to start barking if they need to. She is an excellent Mumma, delivering 10 puppies (9 survived) in her first litter! She is definitely the least loyal of the group and seems to be happy to go with whoever is going out but loves to go on adventures! One of her favourite tricks is to guard the back of the ute if we are out feeding the cattle…which is really handy in making sure everyone gets their fair share and waits their turn😊 Definitely the most excitable of the group and yet at the same time the most aloof.
Ivy is a family favourite for she has the most delicate fox-like face connected to a very large body! She is Casper and Bow’s daughter and was the runt of the litter. She actually injured her back leg up near her hip when she was only a couple of weeks old, and we weren’t sure what was going to happen as her leg swelled up quite badly. The vet said that there was not a lot they could do for pups that small, we could either put her down or keep treating her leg (we were treating her with comfrey and arnica and pain relief) and see what happens. I swear that you will not meet a tougher dog. I can still see her dragging herself out of the kennel to go out and do her best to play with the other pups! It took two weeks, but her leg returned to its normal size and while she cannot sit straight or jump into the back of the ute, she can run all day without any trouble. You will never find a sweeter dog, but if the cows push her buttons, she would have to be the toughest dog in the team and is always ready to work. Very strong-willed, she can be a lot to handle, but her and Tim have formed a real bond and it is the sweetest thing to watch her wait by the ute for him to lift her in. She reminds us of a little fox, and she is my son Blakes favourite as he often tells me that she is the keeper of all his stories, for whenever he needs to think, Ivy is always a part of this process😊
Boots is nearly 12 months old and unlike the others, who are all black and tan kelpies, he is a brown kelpie/border collie. Tall and wiry, he has the most exquisite green eyes that are hard to look away from. Always up for playing, he nearly drove Bow to distraction when he was younger, but he has begun to mature of late and leaves the other dogs for dead when it comes to speed. When Tim sends the dogs around the stock, Boots is always the first one there by a way, but that is not always a good thing as sometimes he can get confused as to what is coming next! Luckily though he is firmly in the pack and will look to the others, particularly Bow, for guidance as to what is the next step. He definitely has a mind of his own and is great at giving the other dogs courage. Boots gift is blocking…he loves to get around the front of the cattle and hold them, which is great when that is what you want, but not so great when you are wanting to take them somewhere😊 Super quick and incredibly agile, he is still finding his feet, but already is proving to be just as loyal as Bow. To the extent that he is always two steps behind Tim, even if he just gets out of the ute to get something! His other gift is jumping…I swear he has the most amazing amount of spring and has about a foot beneath him when jumps onto the ute!
Socks is the youngest of the team and has only just recently started to come out for short periods with the other dogs to see what being a working dog is all about. 7 months old, he is a well-bred border collie pup that is showing a lot of desire to work. All legs at this point, he is going to be a very big dog if his paws are anything to go by, and he has the sweetest eyes (one blue!) and snuggly personality. He and Boots are great mates and are lucky enough to have each other to do some serious puppy playing, though his other pastime is working poor Bow to such an extent that he never gets a moments peace! He has always been interested in livestock and we used to often find him laying down on the grass near the poddy calves, just watching them for hours. Socks shows signs of being a very strong dog with his own opinions on how to do things, but from the start he has been very quick to learn and incredibly sensible. Though his lack of interest to jump up on anything is always entertaining…I think he wishes to just be lifted like Ivy😊
Runty and Red are the oldest dogs on the farm and as such are fully retired from working. Red has a bad hip and Runty was a terrific dog in his day and has worked hard over the years and as such has earned the right to come and go as he pleases. Which usually means he spends a good part of the day sleeping outside the front gate. Deaf as a post and having limited vision, it never ceases to amaze me how he always knows when there are leftover treats from the kitchen being handed out😊 Despite his advanced age, Runty remains the boss of the other dogs and as such is treated with the utmost respect by everyone down the line, except for Red of course, who as his sister and the same age has obviously decided that he is no more special than she is.
These dogs make up such a big part of the story that is our farm and our life here. Our terrain here is steep, and we have lots of native bushland that makes up a good portion of the property. We muster on horseback because we love it, but also because there are not many places that you can get a vehicle to. Because of this, we would not be without the dogs when we are doing stock work. They are efficient, capable, respectful of stock and always give it their all and will keep going until they get the job done. In truth, they make us better stock handlers and I swear they teach us just as much as we teach them. However, that is not their only role here. They are our constant companions, be it fencing, feeding, checking water and anything else that needs doing…they are always right there as consistent as our own shadow. From morning light till the end of the day, they share it all with us. They weather the storms, ride the rainbows and stay right beside us for all the seasons in between, asking very little in return. Having the dogs beside you is how you can work all day alone and never feel lonely…they are part of our family. As I come to the end of what is our first blog about our farm, my son walks past the window to go and feed the dogs and I can’t help but wonder what stories he has for them today?