Well, I guess we’re all wondering where the last year’s gone…..that seems to be pretty common about now, but I’m hearing younger and younger people complaining these days. I used to think it was only old farts who said that! 

We’re suffering from the wetter than usual winter rain, dry as chips at present and missing all the storms so far. Hopefully the present heat wave will bring some decent rain. The first year I was here it teemed on Christmas day, so here’s hoping!

I had a week in Hospital in November but seem to be doing well now; everyone raves about keyhole surgery but he needed quite a few keys to get to where he was heading, judging by the evidence!  I had a lovely  big surprise when Emma Zeimer brought baby Frank to visit one day while I was in St  Andrew’s.

Em said K.Gemma has been working well with hubby Derek and Midnight(K.KahluaxTracker the Chief), who isn’t much more than a year old. Em’s favourite bitch K.Gin Fizz(GlidexKahlua) has been out of action for a few weeks with a litter of five to K.Polo. pics below at 5 weeks, a lovely even litter.

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Due to Gemma’s clever timing she’s been mated to Chief recently; Em and Derek were going up to visit with David Hart on Riverside, so fingers crossed she’s in pup. Chief isn’t getting any  younger, and a double cross of old Glide would be a bonus. 

Cara has a lovely litter to Karmala Landy with Marina at Texas. She says she’s spending far too much time with the pups but is really enjoying handling them. A few photos at 4 wks below.

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The Lil litter by Wilson is about the same age as Cara’s, here at 5 weeks.

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Mocha produced seven pups to Polo this week but only ONE bitch. And no creams. After her initial surprise, and a rather late kicking in of the hormone interleukin (which fires up the mothering instinct) she seems to be coping well. I must admit to a worrying first night as I simply covered over the front of the kennel…there was a big storm…and left her to it. The pups were still wet and a bit cold and not suckling, but had snuggled in under her for warmth, had stopped yelling, and she was stretched out. Such a relief to find all normal next morning. I think interfering too much can be counter productive. Of course the current heat wave is another challenge, but the old meat house/dairy which is insulated with asbestos sheeting, is a cool spot, especially with a fan running. I just make sure I remember not to sweep down the walls….

It’s been very encouraging to have heard recently from quite a few clients who are working young dogs from Karmala. Some have been to David and Sean’s Stock Handling Clinics. Nice to hear that their cattle are much quieter and appreciating the break from excessive heel bite! Also good to hear that they’d like another pup later on.

The Wilson pups are proving themselves in the real world and are such natural workers they cause very little grief for such young dogs. Some are a bit tentative early on, and both Arthur Crumblin and Jeff Ritchie have commented that they just need time. They do start to work quite young, but need a bit of patience while they work things out for themselves…not the sort of pup you’d want to put commands on too early, they could misunderstand and think they were doing the wrong thing when they’re not really. 


This is a professional photo of Karmala Calvin Klein, better known as Jag(Karmala BrockxKarmala Chanel) penning up for owner Andrew Ardis at Deepwater Station during shearing. Wonderful timber work, it reminds me of the Barunah Plains shed in Victoria. I worked in a lot of sheds when wool classing long ago, and some have great character. 

For  those long time clients who check this page quite regularly, here’s a treat for Christmas reading from my favourite correspondent. I always enjoy getting Phil’s updates and I’m sure some of you will remember previous ones. It’s great to sell dogs to someone who invests so much time and thought in them with great results:

I have been meaning to update you for a while now on young Seth(ChancexLily) but I don’t like to tempt fate by yapping prematurely. And I usually find as soon as you tell somebody how good a dog is they let you down and do something stupid. So I tend to lie low, but the bottom line is I couldn’t be more pleased with how Seth is turning out. The older and smarter I get the more patient I am and so he has always been given the scope to develop at his own pace. Which is easy to do when your other dogs are mature and smart and able to cover for his ‘enthusiasm’ as he goes along. Like all your dogs he has that natural heading instinct which is so fundamental to what I need, added to which he is highly intelligent so really it could only be by me stuffing up if he didn’t turn out. He doesn’t like being told too much (where have I come across that before?) but is so smart that he learns far more and far quicker from making mistakes than he ever would from being pressured by me. So the secret is patience, Jan, as you told me from the start all those years ago. And, as your friend Marina Angel-Smith said to me once, your bloodline never stop learning so by the time they are mature they are so ‘knowing’ it is almost uncanny. I was working a big mob with Zac(Whitehead’s Tracker x Karmala Lyddy) the other day and a chap watching said to me afterwards he had never seen a dog before so aware of what was required with so little instruction. He reckoned Zac had one eye on me and one on the sheep and was reacting instinctively as we went along. Mind you, young Zac is one out of the box too, brilliant really in just about every way. Except he doesn’t like cattle and hates them being in the same paddock as his sheep. To the point if ever he isn’t exactly where I would expect him to be in relation to the mob I can guarantee he has seen (smelt, more likely) a cow half a mile away and come hell or high water he isn’t going anywhere near her. His other pet hate is leaving sheep behind, which he totally refuses to do. If ever a mob turns up with the other dogs and he isn’t with them you can be sure a ewe will have gone down along the way. Depending on how long he has been back with her he will either be sitting beside her or, more likely, with his head underneath her trying to stand her up. Remarkable really, in human terms his IQ would have to be around the 150 mark. And a character with it. We still go through the daily greeting noise he makes which is indescribable and totally unique to him, and yet it has taken me 4 years (or whatever it is) to con him into taking food from my hand. He adores human contact as long as he is behind you (on my quad bike he stands next to me on my left so he can rest his paw in my free hand and leans his head against me and goes to sleep) but hates front on contact with a passion. Unlike the other 3, especially Seth, who would lick you to death if given half a chance. Being contrary my ambition is to get Zac close enough to actually touch the tip of my nose. I am sure he thinks I am a total nutter.
Pup(Riana NapxRiana Delta) is still with us but fully retired now. Still likes to come out to Wingeel and will ride around in the back of the ute in short bursts but really prefers to lie under a tree and watch the world go by. Full of arthritis he moves very slowly and I have to lift him onto the bike or ute, which is a bit of a battle because he hasn’t lost his appetite and is huge, but he is happy enough and still smiles and will rag around with Seth when in the mood. Can’t imagine life without him, what a dog he has been and taught me all that I wish I had known 50 years ago about dogs and working sheep. Taffy(Riana RaddlexW.Spice) has developed an occasional chronic lameness which becomes worse if he is overloaded so I nurse him along as much as possible. But he still keen to work and gets cranky if not allowed to have first go at a mob of sheep. Grabs me by the sleeve and won’t let go when one of the others is let off the bike before him. I tend to think of him as the plodder in the group. Super reliable for the routine stuff but lacks the flair and ability to work things out for himself like the others. Having said that he is a massive sook and Lesleys favourite and could well end up her lap dog in his retirement.
Nearly forgot to tell you, Jan, the other day we were vaccinating young off-shear ewes and having problems loading them onto the VE (conveyor belt) unit they use out there. The sheep were in very good nick and quite mad but not running well, baulking at the VE, causing a lot of pressure to come on the sheep at the back of the bugle. The yard dogs they use were pushing too hard so the back sheep were breaking (as they do) and hurdling gates etc. with all the usual consequences. I don’t often use my dogs in the yards (if I can help it) but we gave Zac and Seth a go to see what would happen. Seth in particular has hardly ever worked in the yards but they worked as a pair and you would have loved to watch. Without any instruction they sat back roughly 5 meters off the sheep and kept moving up as sufficient pressure was required. Zac standing and young Seth prostrate with his chin glued as tight to the ground as any dog I have ever seen. And used their eyes, wonderful to look at they were so intense, so the back sheep got 4 barrels if they turned round for a look. I did wonder in his youth if Seth may have been a bit weak because he went through a stage of tail turning if a sheep broke on him out in the paddock, but thinking back it was usually if he was tired and it generally happened because he hadn’t anticipated the break so was behind from the start and it became one of those chasing jobs. Anyway he wasn’t weak the other day in the yards. Quicker on his feet than Zac so if a ewe did decide to have a go he generally covered her first and if she kept coming he would go straight for the head and hit them so hard they didn’t come back for more. The pair of them kept it up all day, I think they were in 7th heaven, probably because a change is a good as a holiday as the saying goes. And it was very good experience for Seth in particular, may be I should have given him more yard work before so he got used to anticipating when a sheep is about to take him on. Anyway they were a credit to you and a pain in the ass job became enjoyable.
Chance, the Karmala Clyde x Karmala Lyndy dog who is blind, has been leaving some very good progeny. Ron Robb likes his ChancexBrandy boy Karmala Changi very much and says he’s improving every time he works him. He’s maturing into a smart worker who can pace himself well and is also very handy on cattle.
His litter sister Cherry has just whelped to Wilson(10/12/16); this should be a good mating.

Very best wishes to you all for a happy festive season and a really great 2017! I’ll let old Chopper add his greetings too, as I think it might be his last Christmas. He’s a legend, still enquired after by old friends of Mat’s. Beside him is his g’daughter Maggie(WilsonxHeli), having her two bobsworth!

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