A SOUTH-WEST kelpie will be put to the test next month, as she competes to be named Australia’s best working dog.
Broadwater’s Skyla Milgate and her almost two-year-old kelpie, Cub, have been picked to compete against 11 other working dogs across the country in the Cobber Challenge.
The challenge, which recognises the “unsung heroes” of farm work, sees two working dogs from every state fitted with a GPS collar for three weeks to track their speed, distance, and duration of work, with the hardest working dog taking out the title.
Ms Milgate said her passion for training working dogs made her want to put Cub to the test.
“I saw it advertised on Facebook (last year) and then just out of interest and out of a passion for working dogs, I decided to nominate Cub,” she said.
“I love working dogs and I’ve been around them my whole life, growing up on the family farm, (and) over the last few years I’ve started training my own and sold some off to other homes.
“I just think they’re a great asset to the farming community, (and) many of us couldn’t do a day’s work without them.”
Ms Milgate, who works as a farmhand at Weeran Angus in Byaduk, said she was excited to see how Cub stacked up against the other competitors.
“I’m interested to see how she goes (because) I’ve never tracked her to see how far and fast she goes before,” she said.
“I’m hoping she’ll do pretty good; she’s a very athletic dog – she loves to run and basically never stops.
“I got her as a 14-month-old last December and she had the basics on her, but since then I’ve trained her with sheep and she’s started cattle work too now that I’ve started working at Weeran.
“She really loves the work … I think she would have to be doing at least 30 (kilometres per day), so I think she’ll do fairly well.”
With the Cobber Challenge set to run from August 17 to September 6, Ms Milgate said it would be a busy time for Cub.
“We start lamb marking soon, so there will be a fair bit of work for her with that,” she said.
“We’ll also have the late lambers lambing and there will be a lot of cattle work – we start calving soon – along with (pregnancy) testing and all that sort of stuff.
“It will be a busy time, so it will be good to see how she goes.
“We’ve also got a new block of land about 11 kilometres away, so she’ll rack up some (kilometres) taking stock back and forth.”
Ms Milgate said she had enjoyed working with Cub and was looking forward to continuing her dog training.
“I’ve also got a younger male kelpie at the moment that I’m just starting to get going and training up, and I’m hoping to get another pup to train too,” she said.
“It’s something that I really enjoy doing – working with the dogs.”
For the fifth year of the challenge, run by dog food manufacturer, Cobber, seven of the 12 dogs competing will be returning competitors from previous years.
Cobber marketing manager, Kellie Savage said it was pleasing that farmers continued to get involved in the challenge.
“In the nominations, you could see how everyone values their dogs as part of the farm team and for their natural abilities and companionship,” she said.
Once the challenge begins, each dog’s GPS data will be uploaded every day to cobberchallenge.com.au.