12th March 2009
What is a farm dog?
In the simplest terms a farm dog is a worker who enjoys nothing more than going to work and is happy to take payment in food, board and the occasional word of encouragement. Food can be anything from dry biscuits to prime beef, board anything from a hollow log to an old fridge (or a sheepskin rug indoors if your name is Pep), and words of encouragement are open to interpretation: for example Brian has called Bo a bloody idiot so many times that Bo now thinks it is a term of endearment.
Each breed of dog has its different uses: the border collie (eg Spy) can round up a mob of cattle and bring them back to you while the huntaway (eg Bo, Wag, Jean) will get a stubborn mob moving with his deep, loud bark. Even the foxies (Pep, Bonnie, Clyde) have their role: hassling feral pigs, running after rabbits and hunting mice. Just the other day Clyde chased a mouse into a bucket and was making hesitant dives in and out of said bucket. Pep rolled his eyes, snarled “amateur”, shouldered him aside and with one snap the mouse was no more.
In addition to their main job description the farm dog is useful in other arenas. With his keen sense of hearing he will let you know when a strange car is coming well before you see it, which is particularly valuable on an isolated property and particularly handy as it is always best to have clothes on before the stock agent/electricity man/ friendly neighbour turns up at the front door.
Having several large dogs surrounding a car can also be intimidating for the driver – but please don’t tell anyone that Bo is liable to slobber rather than bite.
The foxies are great alarm dogs too. Their specialty is snakes. They don’t attack the snake, which shows great restraint for a fox terrier, but rather change their bark in warning.
Regardless of their breed, size or talents farm dogs are part of the family. They see you on your best days and put up with your singing. They see you on your worst days and put up with your swearing. They love and are loved and that final separation is painful.
Jean died this week.
This series of photos is from her first litter: