Working Dogs

You’re a little ripper, Rippa

By Country News

’Where did you get Rippa?

I come from Beaufort and I was a rouseabout on a sheep property, just volunteering so I could learn. Rippa’s mum had pups on the property I was working on so I said to the fella: ‘You can give me the runt’ so he gave me Rippa and $500 for volunteering. She got her name because she’s a little ripper.

How old is Rippa?

She’s 10 years old. A couple of months ago we almost lost her — she was bitten by a tiger snake. She’s still a puppy to me because she’s got so much energy.

What happened with the snake?

She just came to me and dropped in front of me. We got in the car to take her to the vet, we called ahead and told them we were coming, but when we got there she sat up. It took nearly one month for her to get better, but she’s here now.

What other ways has she managed to beat the odds and stay alive?

When she was one we moved onto the dairy farm. She was on heat so we tied her up in a double-decker trailer and in the morning we came out and saw the chain hanging out the side of the trailer. She managed to get out of it, without hanging herself. She could have died.

Another time she was crossing the road and was hit by a car and flew up into the air. I thought she was gone, but nope. She was bruised and luckily had no broken bones.

She was once also run over by a dual-cab ute. It was in the sand so she was only bruised again.

Another time she fell off the back of our ute when we were coming home from being somewhere. She was missing for three days. We were driving up and down the roads looking for her, she had all her tags and was microchipped. Well this lady calls and says ‘I have got your dog but can I keep her?’.

Rippa is friendlier to women, so when my husband went to pick her up and called for her she would not come. The woman asked ‘are you sure you won’t sell her to me?’.

What does Rippa do on your farm?

Her job is to go and get the cows in for milking and if we need to do sheep work she goes and gets them as well. She’s just so clever, she knows the right way to act with different animals.

How did you train her?

I trained her in the most bizarre way. I would take her for walks and because I can’t whistle I would say ‘Aye’ for left and ‘Oi’ for right. If I said ‘Up’ she would jump and I could catch her.

Words and pictures:

Taylah Burrows