Rodney and Marisa Page with their Kelpie cross Lucky.
Rodney and Marisa Page with their Kelpie cross Lucky. John McCutcheon

Kelpie a doggedly loyal breed

KELPIES are as Australian as meat pies, kangaroos and barbecues.

They have been part of the Australian pastoral industry for about 140 years.

Their roots can be traced back to the beginnings of nationhood when Australia asserted its independence from Britain.

It is the kelpie's intelligence, loyalty and obedience that endears it to owners.

Ray Carter is one such owner.

He bought his first kelpie pup, Brandy, five years ago.

Ray said he had wanted a kelpie for its temperament and obedience, and Brandy had shown she had this in spades.

“She's exceptionally obedient and well-behaved,” Ray said.

While this is Ray's first kelpie, he has worked with them before.

“I was exposed to kelpies out west for a long while,” he said.

“They would keep them tied up when they weren't working, otherwise they just run and run and use up all their energy and are too tired to work.”

Brandy may not be a working dog but she, too, loves to run. Kelpies will also round up anything that moves. Brandy rounds up geese, horses, and other farm animals. And like most kelpies, Brandy is very loyal – a trait that has got her in trouble at times.

“She scaled a seven-foot fence once,” Ray said.

“And got caught in the pailings and hung there for a while.

“I had gone around the back and she thought she had to come after me.”

Brandy spends her days running and Ray walks her around the property most afternoons.

Asked what he loved most about his kelpie, Ray was quick to answer.

“She does what she's told, when she's told. She's a good, faithful, obedient dog,” he said.

The Page family is also a proud kelpie owner with Lucky, their 18-month kelpie cattledog cross.

Lucky was bought from the Noosa refuge and was picked for his nature.

Rodney Page hadn't deliberately sought out a kelpie but couldn't resist Lucky.

“He's a good-natured dog. He's well-behaved until a car goes past – he tries to catch them,” he said.

Lucky was originally bought as a companion for their daughter's doberman, but since the daughter moved out, Lucky has become an only pup.

“He's enjoying not being dominated by a bigger dog,” Rodney laughed.

He does have a cat to share the yard with, which, when on heat, can be a little enthusiastic.

“She (the cat) chases him around the yard. He tries to hide,” Rodney said.

“He's a pretty good dog.”

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