Friday, 8 June 2007

GLOYED By Jan Lowing

(The task was to compose an original tale with an animal as the main character).

Like most farmers, I had a very mixed bag of sheepdogs before I got a really good one. Tradition has it that you only own one remarkable dog in a life time, and I’d have to agree. My first pup was given to me by one of our shearers. It mysteriously disappeared while I was finishing my wool classing course and I suspected my father had put it down because it was useless. Nevertheless, I wept many bitter tears over him. The next pup was given me by a boyfriend. Meg was a Border Collie and quite a well bred one. I trained her to work on our property and she became quite useful. An old local offered to put a dog trial on for our Young Farmers Club, and Meg underwent a crash course in navigating sheep through obstacles for a week or so. On the day of the trial it was patently obvious that I was the only one who’d bothered to tune up their dog. After a most entertaining morning I was presented with the big trophy, a tiny gold and white Border Collie pup.

Glide, as I called her, was a real blue blood. Maybe too much so, in fact, because her close inbreeding prevented her from getting in pup later in life. As a tiny puppy she practised on the small mob of ‘killers’ that we kept around the house to trim the grass. She was content to lie quietly watching them feed for hours, but when I appeared she would collect them up and walk them along beside me. Soon she was doing most of the farm work and Meg was rather neglected… until dad found she was a big improvement on his old dog Ring, and gradually began to use her instead.

The shearers hated Glide. She wasn’t keen on strangers, and as she got older she’d sneak around behind them growling. If they told her to shoot through she was inclined to dive in and give them a nip on the heel. Poor old Rusty Graham, in particular, got this treatment. He could never work out her name either, thinking I was saying ‘Glade’. To get through to him I had to say ‘Gloyed’!I think Rusty was very relieved when I married and moved to Western Australia. Glide soon had all the stock and station travellers well trained, they would leave messages under a stone on the gate post…but when my parents visited a year later Glide greeted them with great excitement.

We had a thousand acres of bush country that was impossible to drive over because of mallee roots puncturing the tyres, but we ran our wethers there. When they needed mustering I’d take my lunch out, sit in the ute at the gate, and wait for Glide to turn up with the mob.

I entered her in a three sheep trial at Esperance when she was two. Neither of us had competed before. As I watched the preceding dogs I got very nervous because the big, wild wethers were virtually unworkable. On several occasions they simply jumped the fence and disappeared up the street. Imagine my surprise when Glide walked them around the course without any trouble at all to win the Encourage Trial. A well known dog man was heard to remark, ‘Gawd, look at that! And she isn’t even trained!’

Jan Lowing © 2007

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