Working Dogs

One big happy family

By Jamie Salter

Angela Varcoe loves her cavalier/cocker spaniel cross, Jess, who she's owned for 14 years. A year ago, she welcomed Buddy the kelpie to the family for her husband Steven, but Buddy still tends to gravitate toward her. The two dogs live in harmony with three cats at Vala Holsteins in Toolamba.

How did you get the dogs?

For Jess, I went to work hoof trimming in 2006 and all these beautiful little puppies were running around and Jess was the trouble maker and we fell in love. She looked like a little Jersey cow.

I used to have a red kelpie who was an amazing working dog and I lost her to a seizure. My friend at Invergordon posted a few pictures of kelpie puppies on Facebook and that's when we saw Buddy.

What are their personalities like?

We've always called Jess like a children's nurse — she's always doting on them with a sweet nature.

Buddy is a bit cheeky and mischievous. I've had kelpies who just want to work but he's a good mix of farm dog and family dog.

What's the worst thing they've done?

Jess jumped off the back of a ute on a six-lane highway. She slipped out of the collar when we pulled over to check the load and began to run towards the cars and turned away at the last second.

Buddy is a good shoe thief, just the one shoe. One of my son's good sneakers has gone missing. My sister came for Christmas and he took off with her sandal, it was rather chewed.

What's the best thing they've done?

Jess used to sit on top on our brick mailbox in Numurkah and wait for people passing to pat her. There was one particular lady who used to love to pat her and have a chat.

Do they travel with you?

Both of them like to sit on the front seat of the buggy. Buddy has to be the closest to me, he'll jump over the top of Jess to be the closest to the driver.

What would you do without them?

Jess is going to leave a big hole in our lives. Buddy is a big personality and he'd be missed.