Red Kelpie Working Dogs – Farmer Cookbook Extract

Red Dog, that’s me. I’m an Aussie dog with an Aussie name. My owner called me Red Dog, ’cos that’s exactly what I am. I’m a red kelpie and I’m bred to be a farmer’s right-hand man. Not all kelpies are red. Some are black and tan, others are jet black and quite a few have a big white blaze down their chest. You might even come across cream ones, but they always look really dirty if they’re working dogs. Me, I’m a multipurpose dog. I can work with sheep, cows and pigs – and I’m loved by my family.

Us kelpies are pretty serious dogs. We can be shy and fairly suspicious. Don’t be surprised if we don’t come running up to you for a pat. That’s not really our thing unless we know you and even then, we’re fairly cautious. Kelpies are really smart, and our brains need constant stimulation. Our purpose in life is to work and we enjoy nothing more than a day of mustering. We love to run and can run up to 40 kilometres a day, rain, hail or shine. It’s my job to keep the mob under control. My owner Greg has shown me neat tricks, but often I think I know more than he does about mustering sheep and cattle. We’re a pretty intuitive lot and can get the animals in line just by being near them.

Our job is to move cattle or sheep from one paddock to another. Often this takes hours and requires my full attention. I need to listen carefully to what I’m being told to do. If I don’t then boy, do I get an earful! Usually there are a few of us kelpies helping to move the stock. There will be one at the back, one at the side and one up front. I prefer working with sheep, but they can be pretty dumb. Often they get jammed up like cars in traffic. When this happens, I jump on their backs and run across to the sheep up the front, nip them on the ears and tell them to get a move on. Sometimes I’ll even have a little kip on their backs if we’re waiting to move them onto a truck.

I’ve got a pretty good life. Most of my days are spent outdoors on our big property and on a day off, Greg and his daughters take me and the horses to the beach for a run. Greg loves his daughters and don’t get me wrong, I love my pups too, but I was happy to see the back of those feeding days. I’ve had four litters of pups. First I had four pups, then the next year it was six and then the last time there were ten. My owner says I did a great job with the little ones, but I prefer working with sheep. Greg’s daughters kept pups from two of my litters, so now Bailey and Marley work with me. They’re quick as lightning and know how to herd with compassion.

I know a lot of city folk think they’d like to own a kelpie, but we’re not really city dogs. Unless you like to run an awful lot, we’d be bored to tears and probably start trouble. I went to the city once and it wasn’t really my thing. All the dogs there seemed to like sitting at cafes or just laying around in the sun. They’d have a fit if they saw what I did in a day.