A village in New South Wales isn’t letting any natural disaster—or series of disasters—put a damper on their championship dog competition. Rappville is located in the northern area of New South Wales, Australia, and with a population of 169 in 2016, it’s a tiny town with a lot of resilience.
COVID-19 restrictions remained in place as new cases surged. However, that didn’t stop the village from hosting the NSW Working Cattle Dog Trial Championships earlier this month. The best working dogs came from around the state for a chance to showcase their skills. Hundreds of spectators even came out!
“We got some sponsorship for this event from Resilience NSW and can I tell you resilience is what we do,” said Jane McLennan, Rappville Sporting Facilities Committee member.
Rappville was ravaged by drought, brush fires, and then two floods in the last year. Of course, then came COVID. They had big plans for the competition, but one by one, they had to cancel as the pandemic took over. Despite all of the setbacks, they were determined to hold the dog trials.
It Took A Community To Make It Happen
The competition spanned three days. It was the first major event they were able to hold since brush fires decimated the cattle fields in 2019.
“We’ve had lots of volunteers from families associated with facilities committee rebuilding the cattle yards so we could hold this event,” said McLennan. “They’ve spent one day a weekend for about six weekends just doing it, we’ve had some incredible support.
McLennan said she could hardly express how proud she is of the local families for coming together to help make it possible.
Considering the circumstances, victory was a little sweeter than normal for this year’s Open champion. The title went to Panda, a Border Collie and Australian Kelpie mix and handler Dick Chapman.
The Working Dogs Championship Highlights Just How Incredible These Pups Are
Men can’t do what these dogs do; you can’t employ people to do the magnificent things that these dogs do and handle well…” said Joe Leven, handler of Novice titleholder Max.
If you’re wondering what a working dog could cost, Leven said Max could go for $10,000 to $15,000 – or about $7,400 -$11,000 USD. Of course, Max isn’t for sale.
“He’s a good work dog but he’s also a really good mate,” said Leven.
Working Dogs Have Been A Vital Part Of Australia For Generations
In 2019, it was estimated that Australia was home to more than 270,000 working dogs. They’ve been critical to running farms – guarding stock, guarding properties, and herding – in Australia for centuries. According to ABC, working dogs first arrived in Australia in colonial times. It wasn’t until 1832 when local cattle farmer Thomas Hall set out to breed dogs that would be ideal for the environment. He bred some of his family’s Drover’s Curs with dingoes, and the Hall’s Heeler was born. Over the years, other breeds have developed and gained popularity across the world.
The success of working dogs lies in the relationship of each dog and their handler. These dedicated dogs truly enjoy their work and the purpose it gives them. Their happiness, and often the happiness of their family, go hand in hand, making them less of work pals and more of important family members.