Trio back on the job full-time

Shepparton News - Country News - - MAN’S BEST FRIEND -

Mar­shall and Suzie Ja­cobs’ re­turn to dairy­ing has cre­ated a bit of ex­tra work for their three heel­ers Mate, Fly and Max. While their work­ing abil­ity may be ques­tion­able at times, Mar­shall has found the dogs are en­joy­ing their re­turn to full-time em­ploy­ment on the Bal­len­della farm, near Rochester. They are happy run­ning around the farm and help­ing out when­ever pos­si­ble, but they are also equally happy kick­ing back on the lawn re­lax­ing if there is not much on. The old dog, Mate, is semi-re­tired, Fly hasn’t ever for­given the elec­tric fence and Max has been run over. While the breed may have a shock­ing rep­u­ta­tion, Mar­shall firmly be­lieves it’s all about how they are raised. He reck­ons they are great dogs and great pets.

Why blue heel­ers?

Mar­shall: I have had a heeler all my life. I got my first one when I was eight af­ter I told a group of older friends that I was go­ing to look at a heeler pup. They all threw in $20 each and bought me my first one and I have had them ever since.

I have had kelpies, too, but I think they are too smart. If there is no work around a heeler knows how to kick back and re­lax while a kelpie is al­ways look­ing for work and will be off chas­ing some­thing, even but­ter­flies, if he is not kept busy.

So where did they all come from?

We got Mate from a bloke at Ten­nyson; she is 11. She was a su­per dog when she was young and she would work any­thing from a poddy calf to a bull with no fear what­so­ever.

I was mus­ter­ing some stock with her in the moun­tains once and the bloke I was with couldn’t get his dog to get the an­i­mals out of the berries. I just threw her in there and she soon got them out — she’s been a good dog. She is also great for train­ing pups.

What about the other two?

Max is an eight-month-old red heeler. He has great po­ten­tial, too, but he got run over in the buggy — $1200 later he now has no hip bone. He is a bit of a gan­gly teenager at the mo­ment and looks a lot like a dingo. He has started to show a bit of in­ter­est in the cows when we are work­ing them around the shed and he is start­ing to have a bit of a go.

Fly is Mate’s daugh­ter. She was the runt of the lit­ter and has ended up stay­ing pretty small. She showed a lot of prom­ise when she was young but she got cracked by the elec­tric fence and has been sulk­ing about it ever since. She has had one lit­ter of pups and we are keep­ing her for her blood­line and we will breed from her again.

Do you have much trou­ble get­ting rid of the pups?

I have sold pups to every state bar Tas­ma­nia and Western Aus­tralia. I had one bloke on a sta­tion buy two sim­ply to pro­tect his prop­erty and his ute, he didn’t care whether they could work or not. I have found if you have one tied up on the back of the ute or around your house, peo­ple are wary. They are great se­cu­rity dogs. Ours are kept locked up in their own pens at night though. Words: So­phie Bald­win Pic­tures: Luke He­mer

Good dogs . . . Suzie Ja­cobs with Max and Fly.

De­voted to heel­ers . . . Mar­shall Ja­cobs with Fly. ‘‘She was the runt of the lit­ter.’’

Love the breed . . . Heel­ers are a favourite for Mar­shall and Suzie Ja­cobs.

Su­per dog . . . Mate is on the prowl.

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