After doing our homework sussing out who had good working dogs, we settled on a pup from over near Horsham. The day Bluey arrived crutching was in full swing, so I got the job of driving into the Benalla railway station to pick up the pup. I anticipated a cuddly, furry puppy, but to my surprise Bluey was considerably older than that stage. He was a lanky, lightly built pup, blue merle in colour, with dark and white patches, and one wall eye,. (that is one eye had an area of blue in it) typical of the breed.
He was friendly and soon settled, and in no time he was showing interest in working sheep. He was a “natural” sheep dog, needing little training, anticipating where the sheep were to go, and very alert to the stragglers that stray away from the mob. He became very talented at manouvering sheep, even at times bringing two mobs up to the yards while keeping them separate. He seemed to have incredible eye sight, spotting a stray sheep a long way off in long grass or amongst trees. Ray worked him by whistling and brief commands, but he would work for anyone (or rather he would work them) The locals referred to him as The Professor because he always knew what was wanted.
One of my memorable experiences was at shearing time. I was asked to put two mobs together, take them out onto the road, and turn them right to a hill paddock to dry the them for the next weeks shearing. I couldn’t whistle , so I gave command by calling out instructions and pointing and usually this worked. However Bluey didn’t like the idea of boxing two mobs together, and did his best to keep them separate till they got to the roadway gate. Here I intended to take them right, instead of left to the sheep yards. This really confused Bluey! The look on his face said, ”This is wrong. The Boss wont be happy with this!”
After much yelling and pointing he reluctantly put the two mobs together and took them right. He thought I was doing the wrong thing and there would be big trouble when we got home.
He loved riding on the quad bike, the back of the ute, and even better, in the cab if he was allowed. He hated possums, there was one living up in the rafters of the shed, and at the mention of the word ‘possum” he would bristle and growl.
Over the years he sired many litters of pups, who all seemed to have his best traits. Pups were sent to all states of Australia to work sheep, muster cattle and even to round up ducks and poultry. It was incredible how word travelled of a good dog. Even years after Bluey died we were getting phone calls requesting pups of Bluey’s strain.
He lived to an old age for a dog, becoming arthritic and slower, spending a lot of time sleeping on the mat on the back verandah. Possibly he was dreaming of rounding up sheep, or perhaps catching that possum.