Family teams up for dog championships
STANTHORPE dog handler Graeme Heath and son Andrew placed second and third with sibling dogs in the improver class at the Queensland Working Sheep Dog State Championships at Allora on Sunday.
The dogs are from the same litter, second-placed Te Rata Fergi is owned by Andrew, and third-placed Te Rata Sport by Graeme.
Andrew, who also placed second in the novice with Fergi, manages a property at Molong, New South Wales, and competes in seven trials a year. He puts more time into sheep dog trialling than his other sports, cricket and touch.
Andrew captained the First XI cricket team while a boarder at The Scots PGC College in Warwick.
Like most handlers who use competition dogs in farming operations, Andrew uses Fergi on mobs anywhere from three sheep to 2000.
Graeme works his dogs on the 100 cattle and 100 sheep on his property at Stanthorpe.
"I train my dogs several times a week but not every day," Graeme said.
He also works sheep at Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary in Brisbane three or four days a fortnight.
"Sport has been to Lone Pine and doesn't seem to worry performing in front of a crowd of hundreds," Graeme said.
Graeme was one of two judges for the Australian Supreme Championships in Warwick so couldn't compete, but Andrew worked five dogs.
Last week, Graeme competed with four dogs at Allora in a sport where he has been a regular for 20 years.
While there are similarities between their results, Graeme reckons Andrew's dogs are better trained.
Both siblings are by Lyster Scratch, a dog owned by Dubbo handler Greg Prince, which won the supreme at Port Fairy in Victoria and a national title in Canberra.
"Scratch was the best working sheep dog in Australia at one time but died last year," Graeme said.
The championships at the Allora Showgrounds were staged by Allora Sheep Dog Trial committee with support from Allora Show Society and from the Allora business community.