Master dog, New series. Sunday, January 23, 7:40 pm, ABC
Aticia Gray runs a half-million acre (200,000+ hectare) property in Pilbara, – “this is about the average size for the area” – a cattle station that has been in the family for generations. But by 2019 the drought was so severe that they had to start stocking up. And with little rain in 2020, Gray and his brother have already decided to start farming separately.
“We went: OK, this is a reset button. We are now going to take this opportunity to adjust our management system, to look after the country better.”
It involves a number of initiatives, including allowing the property to be reclaimed before it can be recovered. This means using dogs instead of helicopters, bikes and bull wagons to work on their cattle which has become a normal way of doing business.
Gray is one of the graduates we meet in the new ABC Factual Series, Master Dogs. It’s like a competition to see who can train the best working puppies in just 12 months, but the more interesting face of the show is the insights about the dogs themselves, those who breed and train them and the farmers who do their work. .
Gray said there are more benefits to working with dogs than equipment. They are obviously light on the ground. “There are costs,” he says. “It’s not cheap when you have to go by helicopter on contract.” Dogs are a lot more fun, he says.
Gray actually started working with dogs in 2013 when he heard of a man named Neil MacDonald who trained working dogs and trained people to work with working dogs. “I didn’t know anything about dogs. I didn’t even go there with a dog. But at the end of that first school, I thought, this is what I wanted to do. “So Gray got a dog. Then another, and another.” I was green as they came, “he says of the first year. . So full point to them! “
Perhaps most importantly, dogs play an important role in animal welfare. “It’s important to educate cattle,” Gray says. “There’s so much natural feeling and understanding about the right dog animals, it takes pressure out of stock.”
It’s hard to describe until you see it, but basically cattle learn to read the behavior of dogs and choose to work with them. It is completely different from a person on a motorbike or in a helicopter.