Working Dogs

Helping to ease the load

By Sophie Baldwin

Deniliquin dairy farmers Barry and Rosey Warburton might have become somewhat reluctant celebrities after recently appearing on the SBS documentary Struggle Street, but their three dogs certainly don't mind posing for a photo.

Milking 225 Illawarras on 404ha sometimes calls for some big distances to cover and some very energetic dogs who don't mind grabbing a ride on the four-wheeler.

Barry reckons the dogs help make life a lot easier on the farm while providing a bit of entertainment along the way.

The dogs also help keep an eye on Lincoln, 6, and Anabella, 2, when they are around the dairy which makes things a bit easier at milking time.

So, who is who here?

Old Girl is obviously the oldest and I don't really know how old she is; Diesel is 7 and we swapped him for a calf because he is meant to be some fancy type of working dog.

Lachie, or Lucky as we call him, is one.

Why is Lachie lucky?

Well, we found him by chance when he was a pup locked in a room on a 43 degree day with a tiny bowl of water.

He was about six months old and it was actually lucky we found him.

He is a bit of an unusual dog, he is a foxie cross kelpie but he has the best bark and is the best at getting the cows up.

Lochie is rather short in stature; does that stop him working the cows?

Not at all, although he sometimes runs up the middle of the cows instead of staying behind them, that's his biggest fault.

Rosey: If the cows are out on the road I just put Lachie on the motorbike and he barks and barks and the cows just start moving up on their own.

What about Old Girl, what is she like?

She is a funny old dog. She was given to me by someone and had three owners by the time I got her.

She is a fantastic worker but she gets sick of working for the same person all the time and she just stops.

She has been known to show up and work like a demon for a neighbour or a new worker and then it is like she just gets sick of it.

She also hates anything to do with cows and calves.

If I put a calf on the motorbike she runs home and hides, which makes me think she must have had a run in with a mumma cow somewhere in her life.

We also know when a storm is coming because she hides under the vat and won't come out; come to think of it, she does the same thing when the knackery truck comes in — she doesn't like the sound of the gun either.

What are the dogs like around the kids, Lincoln and Anabella?

Rosey: When they are at the dairy they are very protective of the kids.

When Anabella is asleep in the pram they are usually asleep at her feet and they have always done that.

They also bark when she wakes up, which is helpful.