Katamatite cropping farmer and livestock trader Bill O'Kane has two helpers on his farm with very different personalities. Bella and Aussie are indispensable as workers and as pets, which is why Bill was ecstatic that Aussie recovered from an ACL injury without him having to pay a cent.
How did they get their names?
My brother Paul O'Kane is a very good sheep dog trainer and normally trains and trials border collies. He sources my dogs for me and he names them, so I have to give him credit.
What are their personalities like?
Aussie was tied up and not looked after when he was younger. Now he decides he's too old to work the cattle and goes and hides in the shed. I've got an industrial dispute on my hands. He's very keen to work the sheep (though). He is one of those dogs who is always walking beside you. Bella is a bit more exuberant, she thinks everyone loves her and she goes up for pats. Aussie is more of a one-man dog.
Have they ever had any injuries?
Aussie did his ACL about six months ago and I took him to the vet, who said it was about a $5000 injury. I said "he's 11 years old, what’s the alternative?" I thought he’d end up being a pet, but she said "tie him up". I tied him up for eight weeks and he's back in business after some long service leave — and he's like a new dog. He is back to jumping into the ute.
How good are they at working?
Aussie is nearly good enough to be a trial dog — he has good balance and style. Bella is a bit rougher. They are a very handy good pair of dogs in the shearing shed, in the paddock or in the yard.
What would you do without them?
Well I don't know if I could do what I do as a stock trader. They are indispensable. I'd have to go buy some more.