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Covering the Goulburn and Murray valleys

Vinnie the runt comes into his own

Vinnie and Ellie the yard dog.

CATHY WALKER December 29, 2012 4:25am

Retired Locksley sheep farmer Ivor Brook and his dog Ellie the border collie.


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I imagine in your time you’ve had quite a few dogs?

I’ve been here since 1966 and my father had the property before that. Over that time probably about 15 dogs.

Do you source them from anywhere in particular?

They’ve mainly been locally bred dogs from within the district — not the kelpie I have now, there’s a story there.

Tell us about it.

Well this is Vinnie and he came from Wagga. Our daughter-in-law Julie has an uncle who was renowned with trial dogs and represented Australia internationally. He got two kelpie pups for us from up near Wagga and they became Des and Vincent (Vinnie) after him. Unfortunately Des ran into trouble and we lost him ...

How has Vinnie shaped up?

Very good now. He was the runt of the litter but he’s developing into a very good farm dog. At lambing time he can pick out a lamb that’s in trouble or a sheep that’s fly-struck.

How do you get your dogs going?

The first six or eight months try to do a bit of training, such as sit and stay. There are two aspects to how good a dog is: natural ability, and training. Most of us farmers don’t have the skill or the patience to train dogs; often they don’t reach their full potential.

What about the border collie; she seems very friendly.

Ellie’s just over three years old. About five or six years ago we gave a chap from Tabilk a pup and he said: ‘‘If it turns out any good I’ll return the favour one day.’’ It was a bit of a surprise when he gave us the pup, but I was very grateful he honoured the promise.

How did the name come about?

Well the chap from Tabilk is Roy Williams and he manages a property for John Elliott’s former wife and that’s where the name came from — should I say that?

How is Ellie with the sheep?

She’s not as good as Vinnie; she doesn’t have the natural talent and is more of a yard dog and keeps the race filled. It’s good to have a variety. Ellie’s mother apparently was a very loyal dog and she’s the same.

(Ivor’s wife Edna agrees. She says if she’s looking for Ivor all she has to do is call out, and if Ellie sticks her head out of the shed, there’s no doubt that’s where the boss is.)

Do you have a preference: kelpie or collie?

I do prefer kelpies; they’re hardier. They’re better in the feet and stand tough conditions better. A light-pawed dog tends to get sweaty feet.

But kelpies seem more active, harder to keep amused?

Most times there’s something going on with sheep farms; there’s not too many days they have nothing to do.

Words and pictures:

Cathy Walker

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