Working Dogs

Brian’s lost without his dogs

By Country News

Brian Pattison grows crops and runs a few crossbred sheep and black Angus cattle at Caniambo. He relies on two of his workers, Cyril and Sadie, to help him round-up the sheep and couldn’t do without them. He has had a lot of dogs over the years and can recall the days when sheep were more often moved on the roads. ‘‘I had a border collie when I was young and I had to take home sheep from the saleyards in Shepp,’’ he said. ‘‘There would have been about 220 or so, I was about 15 or 16. ‘‘I left the saleyards and went down Wheeler St , got into Old Dookie Rd, down toward where the Overlander was eventually built. I hunted them out Benalla Rd. ‘‘You wouldn’t do it these times. It took me about three hours walking behind them, but I had a good dog. I crossed the river at Keadys bridge. ‘‘That would have been the 1950s. There wasn’t much traffic on the road in those days.’’

What sort of dogs do you prefer?

I like the kelpies, but I had a border collie about three or four years ago and I think a snake got him. I was without a dog for a couple of weeks. Nothing worse than being without a sheepdog. You’re lost without a dog. The stock are pretty cunning; they know when you don’t have a dog.

Where did you get Cyril?

From Sparrow Montgomery, the transport driver from Shepp.

What are their best qualities?

They’re friendly dogs, and they’re pretty smart. They know where you want to take the flock. They go ahead to the crossroads and make sure they cross, and they will turn them into the gateways. They know where sheep have to go and know more about sheep than you do.

How well does Cyril work?

I said to the bloke I got him off, ‘he has only one problem — he will only work for me’ and the bloke said, ‘all my dogs are like that’. I sent a dog down the paddock with my wife to get some sheep and as soon as he got off the bike he came straight home.

What do they like doing?

They love riding on the motorbike.

What about Sadie?

She’s about 10 years old, she is a bit more mature, but Cyril is calm too. They work together but she works differently. She takes orders but he knows everything.

Sadie has two pups about four or five months of age and my son has them. They are two good little dogs.

Words: Geoff Adams

Pictures: Rodney Braithwaite