Working Dogs

Blacky’s got big paws to fill

By Madeleine Byron

How many dogs do you own and what are their names?

Currently we have eight dogs including four five-week-old puppies. Beau and Princess are Newfoundlands, Blacky is a kelpie and Flick is a Newfoundland cross, but she looks more like a Labrador.

Who do the puppies belong to?

The puppies are Beau’s and Blacky’s mother Skip’s puppies (Skip died after complications during birth). After Skip had her first litter we were advised not to let her get in pup again, but Beau had other ideas and we found out too late so she was booked in for a caesarean.

She had 10 puppies and when they pulled out the last pup, one of her lungs collapsed and she didn’t make it.

What happened to the other six puppies?

We brought the 10 puppies home, and they were doing pretty well until about two-and-a-half weeks old when they got an infection, most likely because they never got the colostrum from their mother. Unfortunately there was nothing more we could do for them and the virus took over.

Which dog helps with the cattle?

I’ve been working with Blacky for about five weeks and I think she’ll be as good with the cattle as her mother. She was the runt of Skip’s first litter but she’s already going back and getting the cows.

What commands does she respond to?

The most important command she responds to is ‘‘listen’’ and she stops. She just lives for work and she’ll be jumping out of her skin with excitement so ‘‘listen’’ makes her stop and focus. She also responds to ‘‘on the bike’’, ‘‘go back’’ and ‘‘push ’em up’’.

Does she have any funny traits?

She has the same trait as her mother, she won’t work for anyone else and won’t work without the motorbike. Jenni will take her for a run and get her to push the cows up but she doesn’t always come back.

What’s your secret to a good working dog?

A good dog will have pointy ears and no interest in birds — as soon as they show an interest in birds they’re no good. A good dog will love you more than the love it is given.