There will be plenty of rivalry in next month's 2020 Cobber Challenge, including two SA friends who will each be hoping their four-legged work mate is the one crowned the title of the hardest working dog.
Despite being first-time entrants in the competition, Matt Scharkie from Terowie and his dog Mitch, and Sam McCarthy from Jamestown and his dog Max have been appointed to the All Stars team, along with five favourites from previous years.
They will take on five new contenders in the All Stars V Contenders Challenge.
Each of the 12 dogs will wear a GPS collar to track how far, fast and for how long they work over a three-week period from August 17 to September 6.
Also among the All Stars are 2016 champion Damien Clifford and his kelpie Larry.
Since winning the title, Mr Clifford has become livestock manager on a property with 9000 ewes and a couple hundred cattle, and has expanded his own farm at Woorndoo Vict.
Larry has continued to excel on the farms, as well as in yard dog trials, where he has represented Vic and qualified in the top 25 Australian yard dog championship.
Mr Clifford is excited to see how Larry performs in the competition with this extra workload.
At seven years old, Larry is the oldest dog in the competition, but Mr Clifford says his loyal companion hasn't slowed down.
"Larry is hard worker with a big heart - he just never stops," he said.
Among the exciting team of contenders is Oliver Armstrong, a farm hand on a sheep, cattle and goat property at Bollon, Qld.
He says his three-year-old Kelpie, Roudy is hard working and can't sit still.
"Roudy will work all day just for a pat on the head and some food. I entered the Cobber Challenge to prove how hard working she is." Oliver said.
"She is fast, agile, she loves to block up and she works on flat, red mulga country so she is very fit."
Another new contender is Pip Flower, a livestock overseer on a 20,000 acre farm outside of Launceston, Tas.
Ms Flower has been working with dogs since she came to Australia from the United Kingdom about 10 years ago. At 15 months old, her dog Hurricane, or Hurri for short, is the youngest in the competition.
Ms Flower often works the young Border Collie with two other dogs, and his stamina and ability to push stock has already made him a vital part of the team.
"Hurri does so many kilometres each day that I think he'll do really well in this competition," Pip said.
Cobber marketing manager Kellie Savage said the number and quality of nominations shows Australian farmers are eager to see their dogs recognised for the work they do.
"In the nominations, you could see how everyone values their dogs as part of the farm team and for their natural abilities and companionship," she said.
The dogs will be scored based on distance, speed and duration of work per day and the points accumulated to determine the winner of the Cobber Challenge trophy.
To follow the performance of each dog keep an eye on the Cobber Dog Facebook Page or cobberchallenge.com.au
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