‘Stock Dog Challenge’ coming to Guyra

Mitch Bennett with his dogs Charlie and Tough.
16th Mar 2021

Cattle and sheep are the backbone of the New England farming enterprises, however, where would they be without working stock dogs?
Stock handlers, who depend on dogs for their livelihood, face the constant challenge of finding pups that will grow and develop into natural, all-round working dogs. A new trial format is making the job easier, by identifying the potential of parents for future pups.
Outstanding dogs will have the chance to prove themselves in the ‘Stock Dog Challenge’, run by the Australian Utility Stock Dog Society Inc. (AUSDS Inc.) on Saturday 10th and Sunday 11th April.
This unique trial tests the skills of ‘utility’ dogs – the all-round dogs that so many farmers really want – with a long searching cast, paddock obstacles and yard work with sheep, as well as obstacle work with cattle.
Mitch Bennett, and Lock Rogers, from ‘Stratton’, northwest of Guyra, are hosting the event. Mitch said he became interested in these trials because they test the value of what he expects his dogs to do on the property throughout the year.
“It’s more about the dog’s natural ability than the handler,” Mitch said. “These events also give me, and others, the chance to see which dogs, both locally and from around the country, are going to be a good choice for breeding the dogs we want.”
Rod Cavanagh, President of AUSDS Inc. said the Society’s main aim is to improve the breeding of practical utility stock dogs, for working sheep and cattle.
“Our trial and judging process identifies the strengths and weaknesses in the dogs across the various sheep and cattle jobs,” Mr Cavanagh said.
“We judge using a fair and transparent system for competitors with built-in feedback, including individual scores for every section of the trial, which is weighted towards the most important aspects of the high-class, utility working dogs.
“This gives people looking to breed with, or buy pups from those dogs, a clearer picture of the dog’s skills so they can choose the dog that best suits their situation”.
“Those who don’t normally go in dog trials, but have these great all-rounders out on farms, are encouraged to enter. It’s a genuine test for the dog, but we also make it easier than other trials with minimum disqualifications.”
The Society ran two ‘Stock Dog Challenges’ in southern NSW and one in Victoria before the drought and COVID-19 pulled them up. The aim is to run these events regularly across Australia where suitable host properties are found. New England working dog handlers should not miss this opportunity to enter, or at least attend and watch what’s involved.
For further information on the Guyra ‘Stock Dog Challenge’, the AUSDS Inc., or to express interest in hosting an event, contact Rod Cavanagh: info@ausds.org, ph 03 5797 2277; and see www.ausds.org