Working Dogs

Lazy days best

By Country News

When Mark Foletta gets up in the morning he’s greeted by his co-workers — kelpies K2 and Bear. The mother-daughter duo can often be found by his and brother-in-law Sean Buckley’s side on the Benalla mixed farm, trying to tuck into the lucerne hay or lazing about in the winter sun. With many mischievous stories and odd habits, Mr Foletta said life was never dull with the two dogs by his side.

What are their names and how old are they?

Mark: We’ve got the mum, K2, she’s eight years old. When I first bought the farm eight years ago I got her about two weeks after. Then I’ve got K2’s daughter Bear, who is four years old.

I’d always had bitches because I always felt they’re a bit more loyal, nicer and didn’t piss on everything. Bear was actually the runt of the litter but through that I think she got a certain amount of craftiness. A lot of the litter actually ended up around the area and one went down to Melbourne.

What are their personalities like?

Mark: As far as kelpies go, K2 is probably the laziest kelpie I know. She’ll find the shadiest spot on the farm in summer, and the sunniest spot in winter. Just a lot of lazing about. I run a music festival out here and she jumps up on stage and will have a sleep on the stage, she can sleep through anything.

They say all kelpies have a fixation; theirs is sleeping in weird places. You’ll find them sleeping under the bench on a pile of shoes.

What’s the cheekiest thing they’ve done?

Mark: When K2 was younger she used to love jumping into random cars. We had a worker that had the window open about six inches and she’d found her way in there. It was at the end of the day and he hopped in there to find something and just felt hot breath right on his face.

I had a wedding here and she was sitting where the bride and groom were going to get married and she started to look a bit odd ... we shooed her away and she threw up 10m from where they were married. They’re pretty classy. They ate about three trays of meat that got left out overnight after the wedding, too.

Sean: We’re pretty sure they got into some of the wedding cake at my wedding, too. There was kelpie footprints where the cake used to be.

Mark: We’ve got a couple of wedding crashers.

Sean: Once I lost Bear for two days. We were just out walking and Bear went after a kangaroo and just shot off. We looked and looked but couldn’t find her. Then someone called up and said, ‘I think I have your dog’. She was only a puppy at the time, probably about 18 months old.

Sounds like they get up to a lot of mischief. Do they have any odd things they do or eat?

Mark: They both get into the lucerne hay.

Sean: If you’re giving it out they try to stay on the bale to keep you from giving it out.

Mark: K2 loves cheese, but her favourite is actually snapper and she also loves salmon skin. Both of them love eating compost, which is super gross.

How are they on the farm?

K2 is a really good yard dog. Bear is more of a paddock dog, her father was a pretty good stud dog. They’re very intuitive.

You’ll get the sheep ready to shear and you might be getting up and outside at 7.30am or something and you’ll be looking around, thinking, ‘Where are the bloody dogs?’ and you get down to the shearing shed and they’re sitting there ready to go.

They do always enjoy the work but when they’re not working they’re always happy to do absolutely nothing.

What would you do without them?

Mark: I’d need an extra two days in the week, they just really add to the day. You walk out and they greet you. They’re just great company. The dogs are more of a distraction than a help sometimes but they’re always good company and just part of the furniture now, really.

Words and pictures:

Alana Christensen