The Hidden Dangers of Dog Trialling
There‘s a lot of positives about dog trialling and you would think that it was a pretty safe sort of sport to be involved in. This is why I feel the need to tell you all a little story to highlight the dangers of our chosen past time. It is perhaps not as safe as you think it is.
My story begins on a beautiful crisp but sunny Thursday morning when I left my farm at Wellington Mills which is about half way between Donnybrook and Collie for the sheep dog trials at the far off Mecca of Ballidu. Now I’m the sort of bloke that likes to take my time and enjoy the journey and I will usually find a quiet back way to travel if I can. It just so happens on this particular trip I chose a little gravel road that cuts through the bush between Williams and Pingelly. I have travelled this road on many occasion and one of the reasons I go this way is it has a great spot just down a little track where there is a small stream and nice clearing to run your dogs and I have never seen anyone else there. So it is a great spot to sit back and have morning tea. Now on this particular trip I had a litter of pups on board as well as three older dogs. The mum and dad of the pups Boylee Ella and Grassvalley Tippy and a little cross bred bitch called Mac’s Jillee. Now Jillee is a little dog that thinks the whole world was created as a playground for her. She tackles everything she does with a youthful exuberance that must be seen to be believed. Anyway back to the story. I’m driving down the road, head full of tactics for the upcoming trial, dreaming of the first and second placing I was sure to win when I spied the little track that leads to my oasis in the bush. Hard on the brakes I swung the Ute with the caravan in tow down the track. 50 mtr along I start to get the feeling I was on the wrong track 100mtrs, 200mtrs the track now narrowing and getting rougher by the meter. I now know I am defiantly on the wrong track and I’m thinking I must find somewhere to turn around. 300mtrs, 400mtrs, 500mtrs down the track, there must be somewhere just ahead to turn around. 600mtrs, 700mtrs now the panic is starting to set in and the realization that I might just have to back the caravan out of here, when up ahead loomed not the nice gentle creek that I’m use to but a raging torrent of water fast, furious and flowing about ten feet across and still nowhere to turn around. I sat there in the Ute for a moment to assess the situation and came to the conclusion that while I was here I might as well make the most of it and let the dogs out and have a cuppa. Then nice and calmly back the 800mtrs on a tiny, rough, winding, slippery, tree lined track so I could continue on my way.
Mum: Boylee Ella Dad: Grassvalley Tippy Macs Jillee
Out I hop full of optimism I let Ella, Tippy and Jillee out. Open the cage with the six pups in, put two on the ground next two and then the last two only to turn around to find lying dead not ten feet away the biggest stinkiest, slimiest , greenest kangaroo you have ever seen. Now this is where the story really starts to go downhill. The pups which were about six weeks old had also discovered this wonderful putrid treasurer and were busily chewing, eating, rolling and disappearing inside this great carcass. There was no way in the world they were coming away from such a giant gift from god. But boy did it stink. I raced over and grabbed two, in the cage they went back again with two more, but the last two seeing what had happened to their siblings had managed to extract a very large lump of yuk from inside the roo and disappear under the caravan with it and realizing that any moment they may lose their precious gift were doing their best to eat it. The little buggers were right under the middle of the van just out of my reach. So there I was lying flat on my back stretched out under the van and the only thing I could reach was a part of the Yuk that they were devouring. I held my breath crabbed hold and pulled but the little darlings were not for giving up. I was starting to win the battle and just about had them out when Jillee in all her exuberance and her great willingness to share presented fair in my face a rather large piece of Yuk which contained a healthy population of big fat white wiggly things. Well when it comes to maggots I haven’t got the strongest constitution and it didn’t take long before the breakfast I had had several hours before was sitting on the ground beside me. Jillee on seeing this, thought that as she had shared her meal with me that I was doing the same thing for her. So there I was sitting in the dirt one hand full of Yuk that two pups were pulling ferociously on, the other hand trying to keep Jillee from recycling my breakfast and a beard full of stinky wigglers. This is when Tippy comes flying past at break neck speed down the hill and lunches himself from 15 feet away into the swirling mass of water. Now Tippy can’t swim and much to his horror when he landed he couldn’t touch the bottom. He only had time to let out one petrified yip and he was gone. Up I sprang; last two pups in the box and off I went in search of Tip. I didn’t have to go far down stream when much to my relief I saw Tippy coming back towards me with a really big smile on his stupid face. The only problem was he was on the other side and there was no way he was going to be convinced to come back across that creek. This is where I was thankful we were out in the middle of nowhere because the sight of a rather large fat man in his y fronts wading across a very cold stream carrying a Border Collie with a stupid grin on its face is not something people should have to see. Anyway the next hour or so was spent washing dogs, washing beards and washing me all in a freezing creek whilst the whole time Ella was lying up on the bank with her front legs crossed and a very unimpressed frown on her face. (She has no sense of humour)
The van was backed out with surprising ease and we were on our way once more perhaps just a little bit wiser and more cautious than when we left home that morning. So to triallers new and old just remember the hidden dangers of sheep dog trialling.