Working Dogs

Dr Dolittle and her dog army

By Country News

There is a fair bit of action going on at Mick and Catherine Shepard’s family farm at Tragowel. It’s your typical dairy farm with all the usual action — people coming and going, motorbikes roaring and dust flying. And then there are the dogs, the whole six of them who jump and wrestle, jump and wrestle and then jump a bit more. The mismatched group belong to the couple’s daughter Tiarna, who loves every single one of these four-legged woofers and in a surprising twist she says the best cattle dogs aren’t those with the breeding, but the three littlest of the group.

So Tiarna, tell me about this bunch?

Ben is the old farm dog and we inherited him with the farm; he was a great farm dog but he is too old now.

Blue came from the farm next door and Charlie is Blue’s puppy (the only one from the litter).

Emily is the 15-year-old foxie, Maysie is a Jack Russell crossed kelpie and we haven’t been able to work out what breed Claudia is. When I went to get Claudia she was advertised as a male and I was going to call her Claude but on the trip home we soon noticed Claude had to become Claudia.

So seriously, who are the best workers out of this bunch?

The three little ones are, especially Maysie. It must be the quarter kelpie in her, but every morning and night she jumps on the motorbike with dad and rounds the cows up.

Ben is too old but he used to be the main farm dog. These days he just does nothing and all Blue and Charlie do is just fight each other all the time.

So who is top dog here?

Emily is the boss of the bunch and she breaks up all the fights. She is also a really good mum and she will mother anything that comes along, including cats and kittens.

Do you have a favourite?

No I don’t, but if I had to choose one it would probably be Claudia. She follows me around the most and she has the funniest little personality. She likes to keep to herself and keep out of the fights but she can be a bit naughty because she likes to chase the calves. I wish we knew what her parentage was but we still have no idea what sort of breed she is.

So why do you love dogs so much?

I just love their nature, they are kind and friendly and they show you their emotions by the way they act. I spend a lot of time with the dogs and when I drive in from work I get mobbed every time. Pop calls me Dr Dolittle because no matter where I walk, the dogs are always following behind me.

Words and pictures:

Sophie Baldwin