For most of the properties that I have worked at during my woolclassing career, there would be a 12 month stint between visits. While most of the woolgrowers are exceptional and a large chunk of them I now fondly call friends, it’s their working dogs that get me excitedly holding my breath in anticipation for work to start Monday morning, hoping that they’ve still kicked on for another year.
There are a few dogs that have a special place in my heart, Bullet from Dunwinnie, Wooly from Tarwoona, Tripod from Avon Downs. Old Jack though, he’s one very special old mate of mine.
Jack is 14 years young. His front paws are a little arthritic and sit slightly flatter to the ground than his younger co workers. His fur not as soft as it used to be, but he can still proudly boast a lush wirey coat.
He has a slowed down but still has a thriving drive to ‘help out’ with penning up. When the ‘sheepo’ call rings out from the board and the shearing team dogs are let off and in full flight towards the catching pens, Jack also gets to work.
If you look close enough you can see a track worn into the woolshed floorboards where Jack has been helping out – running as flat as his little legs will take him from the back yards, into the shed and in under the wool table, out the side door and back once again to the yards. All the while his tail is wagging, his thin, hoarse bark is ringing out through the shed and he has a big toothless grin plastered across his face.
When he’s not flat out working during shearing time, you can find Jack patiently waiting near the shearing quarters kitchen door for a sneaky bone to suck the meat off of, or for any tasty morsels that may be dropped on the ground during smoko.
He’s a lover of pats, tail scratches and ear rubs and appreciates anyone who offers to clean the crumbs out from the corner of his eyes.
He’s certainly an old dude who I have no doubt will be working right up until the very sad day that he dies. Even though that day has almost already come for him.
After a couple of weeks of lethargy, Jack’s humans decided to put the old fella out of his misery and do the right thing for him – take him to the property’s graveyard and release him of his tired, weary body. He was lifted onto the ute one last time and driven out to his final resting place. Laid gently under a tree, the gun was loaded and as his human turned to say goodbye, Jack sprung to life! A spritely leap straight back into the ute and Jack was suddenly pumped full of puppy like vigour once again. He wasn’t ready to go.
That was two shearings ago now. He’s going to live forever, well in a perfect world he would, anyway.