Dogs on utes

Among the endearing things about small country towns are parked utes with dogs waiting patiently on their trays, hoping to be noticed by passing pedestrians. Usually they are farm dogs – border collies, bearded collies, huntaways – but they can also be trademen’s labradors.

I once thought I’d photograph a collection of them and turn it into a wee book. I may still do so, but when I actually started carrying my camera on my walks to the shops, the ute dogs became few and far between. Inevitably the best of them appeared when I had no camera.

These days I carry a reasonably capable camera all the time: my Nexus 4 phone that takes eight megapixel pictures. I’d still rather use a specialist camera, but there’s an apt saying that your best camera is the one you have on you.

This could be the first of my belated series. It was taken with my phone this morning at the back of Scotty’s Meats. The dog is a huntaway.

Huntaway-behind-Scotty's-Meats,-Martinborough

Click to enlarge

Huntaways are classic New Zealand farm dogs, bred in the late 1800s for sustained hard work moving stock in the high country. It was bred for stamina, but particularly for its loud bark. “Speak, Scott!” a shepherd may shout to it.

A balanced team of farm dogs will also include the more silent border collie, a more precision canine instrument.

Huntaways often drive sheep away from the shepherd; hence its name. A powerful woof is also useful in the stockyards.

The huntaway breed has spread around the world and there is even a huntaway club in the UK with its own website. It includes an excellent article about the breed from ‘Fiona’, who lives on a South Island high country sheep station.

Huntaway wanted – Otago Daily Times, 1884.

Huntaway wanted – Otago Daily Times, 1884.

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