Working Dogs

Besties work well together

By Rodney Woods

Brett Barnes manages a sheep, beef cattle and lucerne hay operation in Nagambie, and has two sidekicks to help him across the four farms. Ablo, the kelpie, and Sapphire, a short-haired border collie, are the best of friends — although they have opposite personalities. Both have their quirks but Brett does not know what he would do without them, knowing they save him plenty of time and manpower.

Where did you get Ablo and Sapphire from?

I bought Ablo off a bloke called Peter Griffith at Katunga. Sapphire, I bought her at the Seymour trials two years ago. She's a trial dog from Queensland.

Are they better yard or paddock dogs?

Ablo is a trained yard dog but good in the paddock. Sapphire is the opposite — good in the paddock and has some ability in the yards.

What are their personalities like?

Sapphire is a bit of a princess. She likes to do what she wants to do. She's timid and nervy. Ablo has a great personality. He loves pats and cuddles.

What is the worst and best thing both have done?

Ablo's worst habit is eating cow poo. He loves doing that. The best thing he does is round up the chooks. Sapphire's worst habit is finding the dirtiest, slimiest puddle and laying in it. The best thing she's done is she stayed with a newborn lamb one day in a paddock.

Where do they sleep?

They sleep in their own chairs at home. I have a golden retriever at home as well and they all sleep in their own chairs.

How do they get on with other animals and each other?

Pretty good. They always are inquisitive. They don't get stressed out by any other dogs or animals. They get on with each other very well. Sapphire cleans Ablo's ears for him — that's how well they get on.

What would you do without them?

That's a horrible thought. They are hard to replace as a companion. As working dogs, you can't do without them. They are worth more than a person. If you have to do any sheep work without them, you appreciate how good they are.