Working Dogs

Rupert errs on side of human | Man’s best friend

By Jamie Salter

Shaun O'Shannessy's three children have grown up and left their Toolamba West lucerne farm. Shaun's red and white Border Collie Rupert is there to fill the hole they left behind and keep Shaun and his wife Lynda company.

How did you get Rupert?

The dog was a present to my son for his 18th birthday, so he named him Rupert after his grandfather’s nickname.

Rupert spent a little bit of his early life in Melbourne while my son was studying. Council fines were building up because he kept leaving the yard to go play with neighbourhood children. So, then he came home with us and continued to be a member of family.

Shaun and Lynda O'Shannessy on their Toolamba West property with border collie Rupert.

Does he have any funny habits?

He’s obsessed with our dishwasher. When it gurgles, he believes there are mice behind it — it’s missing paint on one side where he attacks it.

We thought he was a little bit perverted; he comes into the bedroom in the morning and watches us get dressed. If I put on farm clothes, I’d be his favourite, but if I put on good clothes, he’d be all disappointed.

Lynda mows the lawns and he plays fetch at the same time with one of those throwing sticks. He knows exactly where to put the ball when the mower will come back around.

Rupert loves to fetch, and run around the farm.

Does he get on with other dogs?

He doesn’t associate much with other dogs; we think because he believes he’s part human. If someone comes up with another dog, he completely ignores them.

Shaun and Rupert.

Does he travel with you?

If he’s not in the truck when I start it up to deliver hay, he barks until he can get in. He used to always come on the motorbike into town to get the newspaper, he’d wait outside the coffee shop — he’s incredibly well behaved.

Unfortunately, he has arthritis because he was such an active dog. When he played fetch, he would play like his life depended on it. Now when you get the medicine out of the fridge, he puts his tongue out and knows what you’re doing.