IT MIGHT not have been a local winner at the Australian Working Cattle Dog Championships in Springsure, but it was the next best thing - a Queenslander.
Robert Johnson with his dog Pattie won the open title honours by the barest of margins.
Just half a point separated Johnson on 276.5 points from the second-placed Jamie Sturrock and his dog Swan Spud on 276 points.
"We had a lot of competition from down south and I think he (Johnson) was pretty happy to see the title stay in Queensland," Springsure championship co-ordinator Adele O'Connor said.
It was the first time Springsure had hosted the national event, with 52 handlers and their trusty four-legged companions gearing up for three big days of competition. But the event almost ended before it even started, with pre-competition downpours causing an early scare for organisers.
"Leading into it we had about 20mm of rain. It was touch-and-go whether we were going to get the cattle in. That was the biggest headache of it all," O'Connor said.
In the Bushman Handler division, Roma's Ryan Kehl took out top honours on 72 points with competition rookie O'Connor placing not all that far behind in third place on 63 points. O'Connor said she surprised even herself with the result, considering much of the training for her hard-working pooch Miff was put on the back-burner while she juggled day-to-day farm work and family life.
Training begins as soon as they can run, starting with sheep and progressing to weaners.
1. Robert Johnson - Pattie - 276.5
2. Jamie Sturrock - Swan Spud - 276
3. Gavin Carr - Coop - 274
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