Thursday, August 11, 2022

Closing the gate on dog training after 67 years

Renowned trainer George Prouting hangs up the dog whistle after a long career.
On offer alongside the two entries that George Prouting, centre, brought to his final sale were 53 other dogs. Photo: Natwick

After a lifetime of training and selling working dogs, the time has come for renowned dog man George Prouting to reluctantly hang up the dog whistle. Prouting, who is 82 years old, sold two dogs at the 65th annual Gore Sheep and Cattle Dog Sale held at the Charlton sale yards on Wednesday, bringing to an end 67 years of training and selling dogs.

“We are selling our property and moving into town and my wife Joan says no dogs!” Prouting said.

The place he has trained pups and re-trained countless dogs is in Pukeuri, Oamaru. It boasts a training ring and a small hill, which Prouting says some think is an unconventional way to train dogs, but it worked for him. The property also has a 16-kennel hotel, which was often full of dogs. 

Over the years, Prouting believes, he has sold more than 400 dogs privately and at sales, starting back when he was a boy in Coldstream. His father told him “never get married to a dog” and at the age of just 15, young George sold his first dog, Roy, for £10, followed by Roy’s brother not long after for £35. 

But Prouting’s most memorable sale was a little grey bitch called Lyn, who sold for $210 and left with her new owner, only to escape in the high street of Gore and return to the exact spot at the showgrounds that she had last seen Prouting. Another attempt was thwarted, until she eventually left with her new owner.

Prouting’s dedication to his dogs was just as strong as their dedication to him, and his career of training and selling dogs was built around shearing, working on farms and a stint at the processors, always with a dog or two by his side. His preference is heading and handy dogs as they are “not as noisy”, and he took great pleasure in retraining a dog that someone else couldn’t. 

A 67-year career selling working dogs came to an end for George Prouting at the 65th annual Gore Sheep and Cattle Dog Sale held at the Charlton sale yards this week. Photo: Natwick

What started 67 years ago as a necessity became a lifelong passion and finished with the sale of two-year-old plain-eyed heading dog, Jack, for $2000 and Glen, a similar-aged strong-eyed heading dog, who has been to dog trials and placed in show trials. Glen was the star of the day for Prouting, selling for $6300.

The Gore dog sale is something of an institution, and also on offer alongside Prouting’s two entries were 53 other dogs, ranging from 15-week-old pups to a nine-year-old heading dog, Hum, who PGG Wrightson agent Ross McKee said was the sale of the day: “The vendor wanted the dog to go to a good home since he had sold his farm 18 months ago. For the dog’s age, $2600 was a great price”. 

McKee was pleased with the day, especially the fact that the sale was held under clear blue skies after some turbulent weather. “We did breathe a sigh of relief for both the weather and getting through the day. It was a good day, though buyers were selective. Anything under 18 months had to be working well and there was more interest shown in the older dogs,” he said.

The top-priced heading dog was Mask, a 4.5-year bitch, presented by Roger Ballantine of Gore, which sold for $9300. Other top heading dogs ranged from $6300-$7600 and Huntaways reached $5200.

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