Working Dogs

Mick has the luck of the Irish

By Madeleine Byron

What are their names, breed and age?

Mick is 14 years old and Paddy is four or five years old. Paddy is actually Mick’s pup. They are both pure-bred kelpies.

How did they get their names?

Mick and Paddy — the two Irishmen. Mick was named after the man my father bought him off and when Paddy came along it just made sense to call them Mick and Paddy.

Have either of the dogs had an accident?

Mick had a pretty bad accident last year — he ended up going under the ute while we were out marking lambs. He went to go around the sheep and came across in front of me. It was a weekend so we took him to Melbourne where they had to pin the joint in his back leg together. It ended up costing me $9000 and he wasn’t allowed to do much for the next three months. He was a dog worth saving though. It was his one and only accident, but one was enough.

Do the dogs have any funny habits?

Like all pups, Paddy used to take your boots and you’d find them in the garden somewhere, cold and wet the next morning. But they’re both good natured dogs — even with the grandchildren. You’ve just got to watch Mick, if they’ve got a sandwich or something with them, he’s likely to come over and take it straight out of their hand — there’s nothing nasty in it, he just wants their food.

Are the dogs trained?

Before Mick’s accident I could drove sheep down the road and he would guide them around a corner — not so much now because he’s getting on a bit. Paddy’s not a patch on Mick — he’s all right drafting off in the yard but no good droving them down the road.

Mick would cover more work than a paid employee — he will work Saturdays and Sundays, never has a grizzle and is always happy to work.

Do they travel with you?

I take them with me whenever I can, even when I’m not working with the sheep they just lay under the truck when I’m sowing crops or fencing. They are great companions and they look forward to jumping up in the ute or on the back of the motorbike.

What would you do without them?

I’m dreading the day Mick goes because Paddy’s getting on a bit now to be trained so when he goes I’ll have to get another pup and start again.