Working Dogs

He’s the leader of the pack

By Country News

You have five working dogs but we’re talking about Micky. Why is that?

I guess Micky is my favourite, just because we’ve had him so long.

Five is quite the crowd — how do all the dogs get along?

Generally they get along pretty well except for Jackie and Pippa. I don’t know why, maybe because they’re the two females. There’s a bit of uneasiness in the kennel there.

How did you go training Micky?

I trained him a bit but a lot of it is instinct. They’re pretty intelligent dogs so it wasn’t hard to train them. He’s pretty good all round but he’s starting to get a bit slow with age. He’s 11 now.

So Micky must be fairly competent at training the sheep?

Yeah, but the sheep generally don’t like him. He works them quite hard and does a lot of barking and biting. He’s a bit of a wool classer.

What is he like in character?

He’s very friendly. If you give him a pat, you’ve got a friend for life. He’s very good with my two young daughters as well. The girls love all the dogs.

How do you manage with five working dogs?

Having the five of them working together I have to tie a few of them up when I’m working in the yard. It can be a bit of a circus. Especially in the morning when they’re full of energy — having more than three running can be a recipe for disaster. In the paddocks we can generally run them altogether.

Because Micky is the eldest, do the younger dogs look up to him?

Yeah he’s sort of the leader. The pups learn commands by watching Micky. You tell one to bark and all of them will start barking.

Can you fault him if he’s your favourite?

Well he does stuff wrong all the time but he’s a good dog. When you put him in the back of the ute he barks continuously. But it’s actually his two sons (Ned and Dozer) who are the cheekier ones.

Has Micky had any accidents?

He was hit by a car and broke his front leg about four years ago.

What’s Micky’s most redeemable quality?

His loyalty. You can go crook at him, generally when we’re working the sheep, and he’s still happy to see you all the time.

How many working dog years do you think Micky has left in him?

I’ll have to take him out of service rather than him retiring. He doesn’t want to stop working — he’s just slowing down a bit.

Words and pictures:

Emma Carinci

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