Cobber Stories & Media

Back-to-back marathons 'just another day at the office' for last year's champion Larry

18 July 2017

Ryan Ong

The age old debate of whose dog was tougher, which breed was better and whose state had the hardest working dogs, was put to the test last year when the inaugural Cobber Challenge was run over three weeks from late November 2016. The distances clocked up by eight working Kelpies or Border Collies in western Victoria, northern NSW, south-eastern South Australia and central Queensland were monitored via GPS trackers built into collars.

The challenge, which was designed to highlight just how hard our working dogs work, had had the added benefit of providing real time data that could help the owners better understand the activity levels of their working dogs, and in turn help Cobber develop their next generation of performance dog feeds.

Winning last year’s Cobber Challenge was no small feat for champion working dog Larry but according to his owner Damien Clifford, it was “just another day in the office”. Victorian Damien and his three-year-old Kelpie, Larry, came out on top to be crowned the first Cobber Champions. In the opening seven days of the competition, Larry covered an average of 51.7km per day, even surpassing 60km at times, making him as much an athlete as a worker. 

Participating in the 2016 Cobber Challenge helped Damien to learn more about his dogs and the work they do on-property at Woorndoo in Victoria’s Western District. Data collected from the GPS collar worn by Larry as he went about his normal stock-work gave Damien an interesting insight into the hard yards put in by his on-farm team. “The Challenge was a good experience. I learned a lot about how hard the dogs are working,” he said. “The data surprised me to some extent but I wasn’t blown away. Larry love what he does. What it brought home to me though was just how critical nutrition is for Larry to operate at this level, day in and day out”.

As well as operating a livestock contracting business, Damien runs Myamba Working Dogs, breeding and training a small number of Kelpies for sheep and cattle work. Larry – or Myamba Larry, as he is more formally known – is one of three stud sires already passing on his superior genes to the next generation.

Winning the 2016 Cobber Challenge helped to shine a spotlight on the talented Larry but it wasn’t just Larry that received love as a result of the findings. For sheep farmer Damien, doing well in the Challenge highlighted the hard work delivered by his entire team of dogs. “During the competition Larry was mustering, penning up, drenching, pushing up sheep – he has a good scope of talents,” Damien said. “I was proud of Larry but winning made me even more proud of my whole team of dogs. I have five Kelpies.”

When asked how Larry had handled his victory in the Cobber Challenge, Damien said the newly crowned champion had kept his reaction extremely low-key. “Of course, Larry doesn’t know anything about it,” he said.

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