Pete owned by John Connelly of Grafton wins the Futurity Cup.
Pete owned by John Connelly of Grafton wins the Futurity Cup. Diane Essery

Young dogs show off herding skills

IN AN Australian first, the Tatham Charity Dog Trial had a Futurity category for young cattle dogs to compete in this year.

It allowed dogs under two years old to show off their herding skills. The top five place-getters won a share in $2000.

John Connelly and his dog Pete of Grafton ousted skilled Northern Rivers competitors to snatch first place.

Dogs in four categories began trials with 100 points and judges deducted points if they made mistakes.

"What we're looking for is a dog who goes out with balance and gets through the obstacle course without upsetting the cattle, as in biting the heel unnecessarily," event host Robert Johnston said.

Mr Johnston and his dog Livi won the Maiden category.

The dog trials take place annually on Mr Johnston's 400-acre Tatham property and he said this year was the biggest so far.

Some 248 dogs competed and 140 spectators attended.

Mr Johnston said the Northern Rivers had the best of the bunch when it came to skilled cattle dogs.

"We are probably the strongest area, mainly because we have so many trials here," he said.

Many older cattle farmers who lived in the Northern Rivers had improved the skills of cattle dogs, he said.

"Most cattle farmers can't ride horses because of their age, so they need good dogs."

The event raised $4000 for Kokoda Kids on the Gold Coast and Mr Johnston expected the event to return bigger and better next year. He was prepared to extend the flourishing two-day event to three days.



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