Sheep farming for city dogs ‘saves’ bored, ill-behaved working dogs in the suburbs
Placing energetic working dogs in suburban backyards can lead to destructive behavior, uncontrolled barking, biting, and chasing cars.
- Working dogs can develop problematic behaviors in the suburbs
- They are intelligent, high-energy animals
- Sheep farming provides mental stimulation and exercise
But working dog owners in South East Queensland have found a way for their intelligent dogs to exercise their instincts.
The town’s sheep dog farm is one of the few establishments open to all breeding breeds for training rather than competition.
“These dogs are working dogs and they want to work.”
A former director of the retail chain, Mr Borg had no idea where the enlistment of his long-haired border collie, Bonnie, in a purebred breeding training course, would take him.
A few months later, Sheila Marchant hired him to become a part-time trainer at her breeding school in Woodford, northwest of Brisbane.
Both dog and handler won a lot of ribbons in the pedigree herd trials.
The gift of an experienced collie, Maddi, helped him fulfill a dream of competing with farmers, working untamed sheep.
“Maddi has become my shadow,” said Mr Borg, moved.
“She was an old maid, she was nine years old and I recently lost her before her 15th birthday.
“He [competing] was a huge thing for me. Remember I’m a city dude, I hit my goal.
When Ms Marchant sold her business, Mr Borg began part-time training on a Peachester farm.
He had previously survived two heart attacks and three strokes, but the pressure of paying mortgages on investment property was holding him back from his full-time job as director of forestry operations.
“Forced me into this full time and it’s just grown and grown and grown, to the point that I see over 200 dogs a week.”
Mr Borg believes working dogs belong on farms – unless their owners are committed to providing their intelligent, energetic pets with the stimulation they need.
Exercise the mind
Getting away from the bush was a matter of life and death for Loki the Kelpie.
“He was five months old in an impound in central Queensland and he was about to fall asleep if he was not rescued,” said owner Amanda Vassallo.
Ms. Vassallo’s family lives in a small area and she believes the possibility of herding sheep has helped to improve Loki’s state of mind.
“Loki is a dog that needs something more, he’s constantly running up and down the fence chasing motorcycles or trucks, whatever goes,” she says.
Mr. Borg’s sheep move in sync with him across the yard, sticking close to his legs.
“I am very attentive to my sheep, they are my livelihood and they are not afraid of dogs, they are very tame,” he said.
The Sunshine Coast Animal Refuge Society (SCARS) sends high-energy animals to Mr. Borg to help them live in enclosures.
“We have had around 70 of them in the last year that are working breeds or crosses of working breeds and the main thing we notice is that they are incredibly excited in this environment,” said the president of SCARS, Penny Brischke.
“People should understand that where there is [the training] is executed, it is very safe. “
Mr. Borg explains that using human language, human instincts and human emotions is not the way to interact with dogs, which communicate with body language.
Stephanie Street and her daughter, Ava, brought their energetic kelpie, April, to strengthen their bond.
“She jumps, she licks people, she’s usually boring, but she’s the cutest bitch,” Ms. Street said.
Within 15 minutes of raising the sheep in the yards, April is ready for a rest.
“For that mental stimulation and also the fact that she’s exhausted now, I would definitely come back and try again,” Ms. Street said.
Mr. Borg’s personal dog pack has grown to include 13 border collies and one kelpie.
The day her beloved Collie Maddi died, a customer captured the moment Baaing sheep gathered at the dog’s grave.
Mr. Borg recently purchased the farm, with Sheila Marchant as a business partner.
They improved the road and the fences, with plans for an all-weather infiltrated training area.
“I’m making a change,” he said.