Doug James lives on his family sheep farm in Bungeet (34 km west of Wangaratta) and has two dogs, Rosie (10-years-plus) and Hatty (nine months). The dogs are the most recent on a long list of female Kelpies the family has had at View Bank. With Rosie now closer to the end of her working career than the beginning, she knows when she isn't needed. But she still plays a major role in teaching Hatty the ropes.
How did they get their names?
Hatty was called Fatty when she was a pup and my son said ‘‘we can’t keep calling her Fatty’’, so we started calling her Hatty. I think Jan, my wife, named Rosie. It was just a name she liked.
Is there a story about how you got Rosie?
Rosie came here as a pup from St Arnaud. She went to pick her up and I remember her saying that she stayed and looked at the litter to choose the most quiet and shy one. It was a good choice.
What are their working abilities like?
They do what you want them to do. They are a good general purpose dog. We work the sheep as quietly as possible. The combination of quiet dogs and four-wheelers works pretty well. We have user-friendly sheep yards here so the sheep flow. The dogs are a presence but we don’t want dogs that are too forceful.
What are their personalities like?
Hatty is pretty good for nine months of age. She didn’t really go through the puppy stage. There wasn’t too much chewing of boots. She has too much youthful exuberance but she will lose that if she looks at Rosie. Rosie’s always been loyal and gentle.
What’s Rosie’s role now she is getting older?
As Rosie’s got older, she knows when you don’t need her and she will go and sit in the shade. Some may say she is being canny but if she’s needed she’ll stick around.
Do they love to travel?
Yes. They are with us all the time (on the farm). They never leave the farm. The only time they leave is to go the vet, which is rare. Although they are companions, they are also farm dogs and they stay on the farm. I love that once you hit the start button (on the four-wheeler), within 10 seconds they are on the back ready to go.
Where do they sleep?
They both have a kennel up from the ground to stop the fleas.
And finally, what would you do without them?
I’d be extremely upset if we lost them in unfortunate circumstances. We would probably replace them with similar dogs because not only are they essential to our operation but they are also good companions.
Words and pictures: Rodney Woods