Cobber Stories

Out: Storm, in: Razor ... Quick switch for Queensland pair

15 August 2018

Rosalea Ryan

It wouldn’t be the Cobber Challenge if there wasn’t a last-minute substitution, or so it seems.

Last year northern NSW entrant Lily was swapped out at the 11th hour when she needed to put her paws up to rest for the final few weeks before her litter of lively Border Collie pups was born.

And now impending motherhood has brought this year’s Challenge to an early end for Queensland Kelpie-Collie cross Storm.

Four-year-old Storm was all set to compete with her human handler Christian Bjelke-Petersen, Kingaroy, but was withdrawn the weekend before the challenge, when she came into heat.

Storm’s not expecting quite yet but her potential puppy-daddy has been chosen and, all being well, the canine couple could have some happy news to share before too long.

Christian has been planning for some time to breed from Storm but hadn’t banked on the opportunity presenting itself right on the eve of the Cobber Challenge.

“I’m heading up north again at the end of the month to do a couple of weeks of mustering. They all have dogs that they work with as well. It might have been okay by then but I couldn’t be sure; I didn’t want to run the risk,” Christian said.

“They’re all good dogs up there so I’d have been happy for any one of those to have mated with her but I didn’t want to cause any problems among them. It’s safer to leave her out of it this time.”

In her place, on Friday he nominated another member of his A-team to step in: Razor.

A two-year-old tri-colour Border Collie, Razor has been helping Christian in his contract mustering business for just over 12 months. His love of getting in close to livestock is the perfect complement to Storm’s natural preference for working wider.

“Razor reads stock like a book and only needs to move his body in order to hold them right where he needs them,” Christian says. “He’s just a good honest worker.

“He’s become my go-to for weaner breaking. He has a good strong nose bite and a calm presence. He doesn’t assault his stock; he keeps a good distance from them.”

Razor also carries an impressive pedigree. The son of a Border Collie imported from the US and joined to a well-proven Australian working dog line, Razor was sold as a yearling purely because his breeder could not use him in his own gene-pool.

His fearless approach has landed him in a tight spot a couple of times when he’s become caught by his collar in undergrowth. However, that hasn’t deterred him and he remains as keen as ever to go into the bush to flush out cattle that are sheltering in scrubby areas. “If there are cows there, he’ll always go for it.”

When not working, Razor like nothing more than to indulge in an impromptu sing-a-long. “It’s somewhere between a wail and a moan or a groan,” Christian says. “It’s pretty funny. If he has a bunch of pent-up energy occasionally or is a bit excited he’ll let it out that way.”

Normally his serenades are aimed squarely at Christian but with Storm now in the mood for romance Razor’s crooning may be redirected.

The two are currently sharing a kennel at Kingaroy in the hope the next generation of cattle dogs will be conceived.

She might be out of the running to be crowned this year’s Cobber champion but, nine weeks from now, give or take a day or two, Storm could well have motherhood stories of her own to swap with Lily if ever the two get together to chat about their Cobber Challenges that “almost were”.

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