Working Dogs

No Chip on their shoulders

By Country News

The Murphy family, from Winton, has three dogs on its beef cattle property. Dusty and Chip are kelpies, while Kitty is a Jack Russell terrier. Dusty has got himself into trouble over the years, including having his owner kicked out of a caravan park. The dogs are more companions than workers but they have formed an order of power that you might not expect. Tim Murphy was asked the hard questions.

How did they get their names?

Dusty — I picked him up and had no name in mind. Driving back from Kerang, where I got him from, and I came up with Dusty by the time I got to Shepparton. I just liked the name and it suits his colour.

For Chip, my brother (John Paul) and I were brainstorming and that’s what JP came up with. There was a bit of a reluctance at first but eventually we got around it.

Kitty is Mum’s (Kathy) dog. She’s named after my grandmother.

What are their personalities like?

Dusty is fixated with all living creatures and livestock. It gets him into trouble. He’s a bit headstrong at times. Dusty’s a dog that likes to listen to you — at times. He’s a beautiful looking dog. He likes a good scratch behind the ear.

Chip is a good dog. He’s a bit more chilled than Dusty. He’s quiet with the stock and easy to train and he likes to give you a good lick.

Kitty is the boss and the others fall in line. Dusty is second in command and Chip is the trusty lieutenant. She’s a nervous dog but is in tune with how you are going. She’s got a tendency to wander and follow her nose a bit. She will jump in a stranger’s car in a heartbeat.

I hear Dusty has got himself and yourself into trouble over the years. Can you tell us a couple of stories?

When Dusty was 10 weeks old (now two years old), we had to rush out of the house and left him unattended and he got into a half a block of chocolate that JP left for the picking. When we came home he was running around the house like a spring chicken, literally climbing up the walls. He left a good mess for us to clean up.

(On another occasion) Dusty got me kicked out of a caravan park in Young. The owner said he could stay but not to be inside the cabin. I had him tied up next to my car on a longish lead and as I was coming back into the cabin from the barbecue Dusty followed me in — to the delight of the caravan park owner. She said I could stay, but Dusty couldn’t.

Words and pictures: Rodney Woods