Working Dogs

Just one big happy family

By Madeleine Caccianiga

Why did you decide to get three dogs?

We’ve always had dogs and Boo (aged 7) came along after we adopted another labrador named Boof (now deceased) who we found on the side of the road — both boys were in our wedding party. Then the kids bought me Chrissy (aged 4) for Christmas, after we lost our first golden retriever Ella, and Lilly (six months old) is Chrissy’s puppy. They are all part of the family.

How and when did Dotti become part of the family?

Dotti (three-years-old) was a birthday present for Ian. Dotti was supposed to be of a small variety, she was supposed to be handled and quiet and when she was grabbed out of the cage she screamed the joint down and bit and kicked and squealed. I put her in her pen and I couldn’t get near her, she would charge at me and try and bite me and I thought, ‘Oh my God, what have I done?’. But after a day of bottle feeding she calmed down.

Does Dotti know any tricks?

Dotti sits every morning and night for her food. I started training her to sit before she had her bottle and she used to roll over if she wanted a scratch — just to teach her some manners really. She’s not bottle-fed any more but she still sits for every meal.

She also used to walk on a lead. I used to have a harness and she used to come around and check the cows with me every day — so I’d have the dogs and the pig and we would walk the farm.

Does she have any quirks?

As Dotti grew older she gained an attitude and she became very food-oriented. She would try and get into the chook pellets and all the bird aviaries and it became quite dangerous because she would headbutt the bird aviaries and just knock them over, so now she has her own pen and is free to do as she pleases.

Do you spend much time together?

I go over there twice a day, she gets morning and night feeds so that I do interact with her regularly. She still loves her scratches; she’s just too big, too strong. But still very spoilt. Boo and Chrissy grew up with Dotti so they come out with me to feed her daily and Lilly happily comes along also.