Loved the article on Andrew Cotter in NZ Dog World and decided to tell
you about my life’s journey with an incredible pack/mixture of dogs over
the last 76 years.
On my 10th birthday in England my parents gave me an Irish Setter puppy
(Shamus) who was just mine until I emigrated to NZ in 1956 and went
shepherding on a 7,000 acre back country block near Gisborne. I managed
to buy a Border Collie heading dog (Star) and a Huntaway (Mate) who
taught me all about mustering and how to handle stock.
A six year period on oil exploration in Africa and the Middle East saw me rescue a terrier
cross (Remus) from SPCA in Mombasa who was with me for 4 years.
Returning to NZ shepherding saw a succession of wonderful working dogs
until I was priested in 1984 – but still managed to rescue a German
Shepherd who fitted in well with my new wife’s Cavalier King Charles!!
Retiring from the church in 1996 we were given a Border Collie bitch by
a friend moving overseas to help on our small 13 acre block. Discovering
she was pedigree we started breeding which we did until our last bitch
died in 2020. In 1999 my wife and I started competing with our Border
Collies in Championship Obedience and had a run of wonderful dogs but in
2015 having had a little health problem decided it was time to retire my
two old competition dogs. A year later I was offered a pup to rear and
train for a friend and believing it would be my last dog called him Mate
in memory of my first huntaway but not wanting to waste his talent
started competing again – his first 3 shows gave us 1st,2nd and 1st!.
In 2019 Mate got very ill with an auto immune sickness and thinking we may
lose him and having got back into competition decided to accept a pup
from a friend I had done some breeding with. Again believing this would
be my last dog (I had just had my 85th birthday!) I called this little
girl Star again in memory of my first working Border Collie. Last week
we went to a Champ show and in her first outing aged 14 months Star
achieved 2nd place in Novice while Mate won his Test B. Getting out each
day to play and work and compete with my kids seems to keep me
reasonably fit aged 86 and the gift I have been given with my wonderful
hairy mates has been a blessing and a gift all my life.