The Four-Legged Farmers

A whistle, a nod. A word, maybe two. A lot of work. All day in all sorts of weather – all for a well-earned pat. As Penny Evans explains, Australia’s working dogs wouldn’t have it any other way.

It’s no secret times have been tough on the farm. Drought. Dollar. Dearth of workers. But there is one employee who religiously shows up, whatever the weather, never complains and happily lends an ear to a few woes. Dogs have always featured in the romance of the bush. Predominantly it’s the kelpies, with their rich red coats, or the beautiful black and tans with their eager ear-to-ear smiles; sometimes a border collie or cattle dog; or a mixture of all three for good measure. Leaning by the drover’s side, lolling on the back of the ute, lazing in a log kennel. Yet this is a bit of a misnomer, such is their innate urge to work, most would never stop – unless the boss says so. Work currently under way at the University of Sydney’s Farm Dog Project estimates a working dog on average performs $40,000 worth of work in its lifetime. But to most farmers, their dogs are priceless, and the work simply wouldn’t get done without them…

Story and Images: Penny Evans.