The day Clancy saved my life!
The 16th February 2006 was a typical day at Nioka. I fed the sheep, which has been a twice weekly event for all but 6 weeks of 2006/7. Having completed that I decided to take Mr Winton, a black & tan kelpie dog, and try him on some cattle. We had some people who were interested in buying him to use on a dairy farm.
Mr Winton was a well bred pup from my Stockmans Kelpie Stud that our daughter Krista took to Melbourne as a pet. She used to run 5 kilometers a day with him and she taught him many tricks, like shaking hands, rolling over and fetching balls. When Krista went overseas Winton came back to live at Nioka, but as I had enough dogs Krista agreed to sell him if we found a good home for him.
I took Winton and Clancy one of my main dogs, in the ute down to the airstrip paddock where I had about 60 Friesian heifers and one quiet 3 year old 850 kg Friesian bull. When we got to the paddock I walked towards the heifers and cast both dogs out, Clancy and Winton had cast around the heifers well and were starting to bring them along. Clancy saw some more of the heifers under a tree about 150 meters away and recast himself out to pick them up as well.
Immediately, with no provocation from the dogs, the bull left the heifers and started walking towards me. He had that evil look in his eye that I have only seen in wild cattle up in the Gulf country. I knew I was in trouble as by this time I had ventured some 60 to 70 meters from the ute and the nearest tree or fence was much further. I knew if I tried to run I wouldn’t get to the ute in time, so I stood my ground hoping to bluff the bull.
I waved my arms and yelled at him but he just kept on coming, about 5 meters from me he dropped his head and accelerated towards me. Fear was my foremost thought as I tried to step around him but he trod on my foot and knocked me to the ground with a sideward blow from his head and then proceeded to doze me along the ground. Fortunately he was pushing on my legs not my body or head, after about 5 or 6 meters he stopped and backed away. Then he started for me again, this time fear was well past 10 on the Richter scale as I knew if he wanted to the bull could easily crush me into the ground, not a nice thing for someone else to find. My own vulnerability was very apparent, my invincibility suddenly a thing of the past.
He was half way to me when Clancy shot in between me and the bull. Clancy grabbed him on the nose, hanging on until the bull backed away, and then drove him back amongst the heifers.
Clancy must have seen I was in trouble as he had left the heifers he was bringing down to the main group and run about 150 meters to tackle the bull. Not something you can teach a dog, but I sure am glad he was clever enough to realize I needed his help.
I struggled to my feet and staggered back to the ute calling Winton and Clancy. I arrived home in a state of shock which stayed with me for some time. I was cleared of major injury after several x-rays and scans, but the bruising and pain in my legs took months to get over.
I have worked with cattle from Wilsons Promontory to the Gulf of Carpentaria and most places in between. I thought I could read cattle. But it goes to show that even very quiet cattle can turn very nasty with no provocation. Let this be a warning to all who read it that no bull can be trusted.
Winton was sold to the prospective buyers Kevin and Kerry who have given him a wonderful home on a dairy farm where he gets the cows twice a day and spends the rest of the day totally spoilt, sleeping on a couch on the veranda.
The bull was sold as soon as was practical and his attitude hadn’t improved when Clancy mustered him for sale, I didn’t get out of the ute, so he left Nioka with a strong warning to the truck driver and livestock agents.
Clancy has been elevated to top dog with Krista suggesting he should be fed steak… preferably T-bone off the bull.