Next stop after Napier was Pahiatua. It was a big sheep and beef farm. They used working dogs for moving the stock and herd. Of course I was very interested in how they work. I was going to experience the real farm work.
Farm dogs and pet dogs
This was the first place where I discovered that in New Zealand they label dogs either as farm dogs or pet dogs. A farm dog lives outside, never comes inside, and works on the farm. Mostly herding. These farm dogs, or working dogs, are either Border collies, Australian shepherds, Blue Heelers, Kelpies or mixed breeds.
Pet dogs can be any kind of dog. They live inside the house and do not work on the farm. Interesting to see the way they interact with these different kind of dogs. Especially since they all are dogs. The label doesn’t make them different animals. All canis familiaris. But they are treated differently and have different sets of privileges.
Farm dogs are believed to be treated solely for work. No (excessive) petting is done because they need to know who the boss is. Otherwise they will not work for you. They need to be obedient and can sometimes play together. This is the experience I got from this farm.
Real farm work
Emma picked me up at the local coffee shop and showed me around. First we had to fill 30 buckets with food for the calves. Then we went on the quad and fed it to the stock. The property was huge. The largest I had seen to far.
After the feeding there was all sorts of farm work. Real farm work. Which means real physical work. James and Emma are great people and good hosts. The meals were big and nice. The bed and all the other arrangements were nice. There were many possibilities of having a lot of privacy. Nevertheless, this real farm work was too heavy for me. I left after 4 days.
This was a good experience. I could set my boundaries straight. This type of work is just not for me. You never know until you try. The last day of my stay I could interview James on his work with the dogs. It is really impressive to see how every dog has it’s own task and it’s own whistle.