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Working out the working dog

Good dog: Marian with little Alex and Patch the working dog, who is proving to be a bit of a handful at times. Luckily, Marian has Paul Macphail to give her a helping hand.

MARIAN Macdonald from Jack Creek, author of dairy farming blog: The Milk Maid Marian, has recently gained a new addition to her family.

At Easter, Patch was welcomed on to the farm.

A dog of working bloodlines, Patch was rescued from St Albans in Melbourne, to become a new family pet.

“We like working dogs, they are intelligent and seem to have a sense of humour almost,” Marian said.

“However the working dog blood must run thick through his veins and a few weeks ago, he thought the yearlings looked like a good target.

“It took me over half an hour to extricate him from the paddock. And on that same afternoon, he decided to round up my six-year-old on her bike, even having the odd nip at her.”

It was then that Marian realised, Patch may not be a dog suitable to farm life with her and her family. But, as he was a rescue dog, saved from death row once already, it did not seem right to her to send him back there.

“That afternoon, I decided to give Paul Macphail a call and 20 minutes later, we were down at his yards for a lesson,” she said.

“Paul quickly gave an assessment of Patch, pronouncing him as a “tad arrogant” before swiftly putting him in his place.”

“I realised then I may have been too easy on him.”

After about 40 minutes with Mr Macphail, after not even knowing what a sheep was, Marian was surprised to see Patch in the yards, working like he had done it all before.

“I was so impressed. After a few more training sessions at home, instead of tugging on the lead, he now sits happily and watches me walk away,” she said.

“He has gone from being a dog in the dog house, to the golden dog.”

Marian said that working dog training is not just about having a dog that is handy with the sheep or cattle, but that is safe for both the farm and family.

“I have trained working dogs before, but this is the first time I have met this particular personality. All of the dogs I have met have been more human-centric and worked for the pleasure of pleasing people,” she said.

“Patch is much more like a cat. He tends to come when he feels like it, and do his own thing, which is probably where Paul’s assessment stemmed from.

“I have gone from being petrified of him around my little people, to being completely confident with him.”

Mr Macphail said Marian probably came to see him in what could be described as a desperate state.

“Her main problem with Patch was with her children, he was getting a bit nippy,” Mr Macphail said.

“So we went through a program on how to be a stronger, more assertive boss. Then we gave him a run on the sheep and were amazed at how quickly he took to it.

“His natural ability really shone through. We now just need to establish a plan to get Patch working the dairy cows.”

Mr Macphail said a good start for Patch is some quiet sheep, where he can then progress on to cattle in a controlled situation.

“For now though, I am trying to persuade Marian to enter the encourager event at the dog trials this weekend,” he said.

Short URL: http://thestar.com.au/?p=5408

Posted by on Oct 30 2012. Filed under Rural News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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