Jick Connell may now live in Yarrawonga but at 89 years old he still spends plenty of time on his fifth- generation family sheep farm in Burramine with his two dogs, Dell, 12 and Sally, 5. The two Border Collies aren't just good working dogs - they have also been successful at trials over the years. And despite Dell and Sally acting calm around the house, they aren't so keen around other animals or people they don't know.
How did they get their names?
Dell was a short, quick name and the next door neighbour from Melbourne had a dog named Sally and asked whether I could call my pup Sally.
Where did you get them from?
Dell was bred from New Zealand and has shorter legs because of the hills in New Zealand. I got Sally from Tony Elliot from Gundagai.
What are their best working traits?
They are both better paddock dogs than yard dogs. They’re a bit too soft to be a yard dog. They can cast for a quarter of a mile. I try and work them three times a week out here if I can and I can teach them things in the backyard — they don’t have to be with sheep. Dell’s about due for retirement.
What are their personalities like?
They are very good, quite friendly dogs and are good around the house. They’ll bark at strangers if they see them but not too much.
What are they like with other animals?
Not too good. They have been inclined to fight, the two of them. They’re game when there’s two of them. That is one bad trait.
Do they have any other bad habits?
They will sneak out if I leave the garage open and cross the highway. Several times the neighbours have brought them back.
They have a good record at dog trials, do they?
Yes. There’s the novice, improver and open classes and once a dog has won a class they have to move up and can’t compete in a lower class. Sally has won the improver class and Dell won the open class four years ago. Cobar’s about the furthest (Mr Connell has gone for a trial) and I have been to Gippsland. Went to Seymour the other day.
Finally, what would you do without them?
I don’t know. I’d have to look for something else I guess.
Words and pictures: Rodney Woods