Working Dogs

Labradors fit easily into family farm life

By Sophie Baldwin

There is always a fair bit of action going on at the Fisher family farm at Girgarre and a lot of mouths to feed. Between parents Bec and Jayke, and their four kids Cooper, Max, Harry and Ava, a herd of dairy cows, three Labradors and now nine new little puppies, there is never a dull moment — but the family wouldn't have it any other way. Labradors might not be your traditional farm dog, but the Fishers don't mind as they have found the Labs to be great companions, especially around the kids whom they guard with their life. The family is passionate about showing cows and Bec has recently turned her hand to showing one of her Labs, although she has found the task of controlling the dogs’ diet while roaming around the farm quite a challenge, especially after calving.

So tell us a bit about your dogs, Bec?

The brown Lab is Maya — she is seven and the leader of the pack, but also the most placid around the kids. She would sit there and lick the feet of the kids in the pram while we were milking and if one was crying, she wouldn't leave the pram at all. She is also the protector and the dog most likely to bark if she hears something at night. Lexie, the black Lab, is three and she is the most cruisy dog — she just sits back and watches what goes on and she is great around the kids because she never jumps all over them and respects their space. Candy is two and she is the baby of our dog family and currently the most feral of the pack — she just wants all of the attention and loves a pat.

So why have Labs on a dairy farm?

I got my first Lab when I was four and it lived for 17 years and they are just great dogs. When we go down to the paddock to get the cows up, they love to come, and they just sit at our feet at milking time and wait for it to finish. They are always around us and the three of them are all great around the kids.

I think Labradors as a breed have a lot to offer — they are great family dogs, hunting dogs or even show dogs. But above all they are just make great pets.

I imagine it's a bit of challenge controlling their diet on-farm?

Yes, they eat anything and that side of it is a bit of hard work. They will even eat the stock grain if any gets spilled anywhere, and at calving time there is food everywhere for them.

Why did you decide to start showing dogs?

I have always loved showing cows and I thought I would give the dogs a go as well, and I have to say, I think showing dogs is a bit easier. It's similar to cows in that you look for the same things like angles and a nice-shaped face and ear placement, etc. I have shown Candy twice, once at Shepparton and once at Bendigo where she got a first place and two seconds. I imported Candy from New Zealand. She is due to have pups in about a month.

So tell me about Lexie and her cute puppies?

This is her second litter and she had nine little black puppies this time, eight last time. She is a great mum and they are all doing really well, they are only a week old and the kids love them. Lexie doesn't mind the kids being around the pups and she is so placid and laid back, although she was very needy when she was pregnant, and she just hung around me the whole time. We will keep one of the puppies for ourselves and most of them have been sold already, there is only a couple left.