Barkzealand: Part Three
Updated: Aug 21, 2019
When I heard we would be visiting a sheep farm to photograph working dogs in action I was incredible excited. The fact it was at sunrise was not a deterrent, and thanks to daylight savings it was simply a 6am alarm. Perfectly respectable. What I didn't account for, was how wet the grass would be! So my socks didn't stay dry for long.
There was such an incredible mist covering the ground as the sun rose and started to warm up the grass. You could see steam rising from the thick wool on the sheep, and every breath of air from the dogs.
Gavin and Ayley run merino sheep and some cattle with the help of their incredible team of dogs. This team consists of border collie lookalikes- Heading Dogs and the bigger, louder Huntaways.
The Huntaway breed originates in New Zealand. They were bred to use their loud, deep bark to drive sheep forwards, and that is exactly what they did! While the New Zealand Heading Dog uses its visual prowess and quick movement to run around the flock, essentially controlling the sheep and keeping them in a nice tight group- rounding up any stragglers. Bred from Border Collies, Heading Dogs are a sturdy, long-legged and even-haired breed.
I've personally never seen a team of working dogs out at once, so seeing teams of two or three work was an incredible experience. Each dog has its own commands to move left, out, right and around. That way, the shepherd can give a command to one dog, and a seperate command to the other, covering all sides of the sheep. Making for a quick and easy job.
We started in with the young sheep with Fleet and Fletcher the heading dogs and the Huntaway Kate. Once they were done, we moved to the paddock with the rams. Our first dogs were Jay and Clyde the old huntaway. Clyde is actually retired from active work, but still gets to come out for a ride on the ute each day. He obviously hadn't forgotten how to do his job either when he had a little turn. Once he had a run, young pup Fog, and Fletcher joined Jay for a final run.
And with a 'that'll do' to the dogs, we called it a morning.
So, here's what you've all been waiting for: the images!