August 10, 2008

New Zealand Farm working Dogs. Part 1. What's a workding dog worth?

What's a working dog worth? 

  By Dr Clive Dalton


Dog team - top: huntaway, middle: cattle dog, bottom: eye dog

Some folk say a good dog 's worth a good part of a shepherd's wages. This is surely wrong.  A working dog, if you really stop and think about, is worth much more. Think how many people you would need to muster a hill country farm, and then multiply the total time needed by an average hourly rate of the shepherds. A dog could do the job in half a day - for a handful of biscuits and a pat on the head at the end of the day.

 We currently have about 200,000 working dogs in New Zealand and sad to say, there are many that currently need a much better "employment contract" with their boss. The dog cannot negotiate its side of the contract so its owner has to do that. 

 The dog will never complain, will never go on strike, work to rule, and hates weekends and holidays. The highest reward it will ask for is a pat, and it'll come back to you even after a good swearing and a kick in the ribs.

Without the working dog, New Zealand's past economy and present high standard of living would have been delayed 100 years! It's time the working dog's monument by Lake Tekapo was moved to parliament grounds, and a duplicate erected in every New Zealand town and city.

Few shepherds think about the capital value of their team of dogs until one has to be retired or dies, and they go to a dog sale to check the prices. Folk think of paying only $50 or $100 for a weaned pup and are shocked when they see a top fully trained dog go for $3000 or $6000.  These prices are very fair value when you add the dog's breeding potential as well as its working ability.

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