A GROUP of foster children and at-risk kids from the Limestone Coast have had a chance to spend the day with one of Australia's best working dog trainers and his national yard dog trial champion dogs.
On Monday at the Mount Gambier Showgrounds the 15 children, aged 5 to 15 years, participated in Wagging School, a chance to learn about dogs and agriculture.
It was organised by Penola's Liz Rymill and kelpie breeder and trainer Joe Spicer, GoGetta Kelpies, Glenthompson, Vic, with funding from Stand Like Stone Foundation.
The children saw first-hand how the highly responsive kelpies maneuvered the sheep and Indian Runner ducks around obstacles, through pens and races and heard expert tips on training the iconic Australian sheep dogs.
Mr Spicer also brought along a litter of pups, for the kids to cuddle and have a go at training themselves - they took turns leading them, teaching them basic commands and introducing them to sheep for the first time.
When the ducks came out, the kids had a go at trying to be dogs themselves and herding them through a gateway...not as easy as you'd think! ...and with plenty of laughs ensuing.
Mrs Rymill says the day was a very special one for all involved, "it was wonderful to see the children engage with the kelpies and learn about the dogs, as well as farming in the region."
We hope we've planted a seed - perhaps one day the kids might pursue a career in agriculture or with working dogs.
"We had a lot of questions, and everyone had a go at training a pup or herding a duck!"
She says the day aimed to "give hope and joy to children in need, and as a way of saying thank you from the broader farming community to the wonderful carers of AC Care."
Each child also took home a plush kelpie toy dog, and a bag of information about the dogs, on careers in farming and scholarships from Stand Like Stone Foundation.
They also heard from young farmer, Lucy McCourt-Pearce, who spoke on how working with kelpies has helped her, especially during her battle with cancer at a young age.
"We hope we've planted a seed - perhaps one day the kids might pursue a career in agriculture or with working dogs. We also want them to know that their community values and supports them," Mrs Rymill said.
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