Working dogs on farm are truly a valuable blessing and can replace the work of several men when it comes to moving livestock. We have 2 working dogs on our property… Rex and Ringer… and they are Australian Kelpies. Today I wanted to reflect on our dog “Rex”, as this week we spent some time at the Veterinarian so he was at the forefront of my mind. He had an abscess that developed above his eye and needed some attention and medication.
Australian working dogs are loyal, hardworking and very intelligent. When you have a well-trained working dog, stockwork is much calmer, controlled and more effective. Their ability often amazes me, with their natural stock sense, agility, alertness and brainpower. Our 2 dogs, are used for different purposes based on their unique skill and natural ability. We use Ringer out in the paddock when mustering sheep, where Rex is used in the stockyards, shearing shed and for loading sheep onto the truck.
Our dog Rex is a black and tan 7-year-old kelpie. We have owned Rex for over 4 years now and he never ceases to amaze me. Very few dogs can be controlled effectively by more than one master. But Rex is the one dog that we have owned, that not only my husband can use, but also my adult son and myself.
I don’t have a lot of stock sense myself, but when I have Rex in the sheep yards, we just work together and mostly he just knows what to do requiring very little instruction. I usually have to tell him to “come over” to the left to bring the sheep into the forcing yard and when he has enough sheep I just call him back to the yard, where he waits until he is needed. He always enjoys a pat after he knows he has done a “good job” and looks at me quite proudly. If he needs to “hop up” to encourage the sheep into the race for drafting or weighing, he does so when directed, without any fuss. Stock work just flows naturally when he is there to support me. I hate to imagine, the extra manpower that would be needed to do this if we did not have Rex.
So today, I share this photo with you, that was taken in April 2017 when green grass existed in the sheep yards. Sadly now, it is just brown dusty dirt and not much fun to work in. But back then, it was much more enjoyable at work.
I really like this photo because of Rex’s eyes. I love his intent gaze, an independent thinker waiting patiently until he is required. His ego is ready and he is waiting for his turn, for him to do his “thing”. This relaxed yet eager look, we see regularly. His aptitude just waiting to be displayed with competence. I really love his personality, his temperament, his attentive concentration and his determination to finish the job at hand.
Rural Reflection #9…
The Australian Kelpie is an active, skillful, supple and graceful dog that is capable of untiring work with a natural instinct to work livestock. Kelpies are a real Aussie icon that in appearance are athletic with muscular shoulders and a strong hindquarter. Working Kelpie’s are maintained in ‘working condition’ with a very trim, muscular physique without any unnecessary bulkiness.
Working Kelpies are hardworking and capable of working in blistering heat or freezing cold temperatures. They are tireless and can work over great distances. Their intelligence also brings a natural instinct and desire to work amongst livestock. The Kelpie is a very loyal breed and regarded as a ‘one man dog’. They have a natural willingness to comply with their master, so have a desire to work not only for themselves but for their boss.
A good Kelpie is very valuable and said to be worth many men. Their value is displayed in the stockyards and paddocks when gathering sheep, driving them to the yards and forcing them up ramps into sheds and trucks. The Kelpie is undoubtedly a very special breed of dog and a valuable farmhand.
We love our working dogs just like they are our family. Their value in our lives is appreciated greatly, and we are reminded of that each and every time we muster livestock.
So as we waited to visit the Veterinarian this week, I saw the trust and loyalty in Rex’s eyes. Without words, his eyes tell me… that he trusts us, as he waits quietly for a veterinarian to help him. The bond that a farmer has with his/her working dog is strong and the trust is apparent. His wound has started to heal nicely and he is still as active and keen as ever. Rex is a very special dog and irreplaceable, but one day as life progresses for us all, that will become a necessity.
Take care, Karen.
“If the kindest souls were rewarded with the longest lives,
dogs would outlive us all”
~ Author Unknown.