Tuesday, December 5, 2023

Farmers and their best friends show us how to live

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Bryan Gibson says the resilience shown at this year’s national sheep dog trials is a true showcase of what it means to truly live.
Clark Chrystal says Jude is an easy dog to work. ‘I’m pretty happy with her. She works for me and is not a hard dog to hold. She knows how to play the game.’ Photo: Kayla Mckenzie Photography.
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It’s supposed to be a dog’s show, but there have been some wonderful human stories emerging from the New Zealand Sheep Dog Trial Championships in recent weeks.

Take South Otago’s Paul Collins, who won the national long head section just three years after being diagnosed with cancer and being given between five months and two years to live.

After surgery and treatment Collins was back on the whistle last month, guiding Sky around the fields.

Sky herself is no stranger to hardship – the champion heading dog was injured by two bulls, hit by a motorcycle and ate some rat poison.

The pair are relishing their return to health and as Collins says, “you’ve got to make the most of every day”.

Paul Collins and Sky, of Tahatika near Owaka, ensured there was a local presence in the winner’s circle by claiming the long head title.

Then there’s Clark Chrystal, who won a couple of events with his trusty sidekick Jude despite living every day of late repairing his cyclone-ravaged Hawke’s Bay farm.

Life throws us all sorts of curve balls and Collins and Chrystal show just how to deal with them.

Of course, having a trusty heading dog to catch the tricky ones also helps.

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