New chapter written

The stars aligned perfectly for three girls at Sunday’s Australian Working Dog Auction, when a vendor from Dubbo sold her beloved black-and-tan bitch to a young woman from Tasmania, for the day’s top auction price of $27,000.

“Hopefully (the buyer is) the young girl I talked to before the sale,” an emotional Kahlee O’Leary’s said when the hammer fell on her ‘Hazeldell Kimmy’ for the top price of $27,000 – three times her reserve – in Sunday’s Australian Premier Working Dog Auction.

Speaking before the sale, a teary Kahlee said the two-year and nine-month-old bitch out of Nomak Meg by Gilescreek Reg, had been intended as a breeding bitch and worked with a contract mustering team across New South Wales and Victoria.

“I’m here to sell her, but I really have no words, I’m sorry – I’m with her every day and I love her dearly,” Kahlee said.

“She’s just a really nice all-rounder bitch. She does not quite have the X-Factor for me, but she’s a phenomenal little bitch and I just love her, she’ll be phenomenal wherever she goes – whoever takes her, she’ll look after them.”

Just like a buyer with a ‘wish list’ of dogs for purchase, Kahlee had spoken extensively to potential buyers during the day’s demonstrations and one in particular stood out for her.

“I’m here to sell her, but Kimmy’s got a beautiful personality, I think that young girl from Tassie just sees that, I think they’ll be great together,” she said.

It was an anxious wait after leaving the stage, but there were beaming smiles all-round when Kimmy’s buyer turned out to be ‘the young girl’ – Ashley Meaburn and her brother, Lachlan, who hail from Oatlands in Tasmania.

Running Merino sheep and selling rams privately, Ashley has worked Huntaways in the past and started several Kelpie pups, but the farm had been “caught a bit short” recently on experienced dogs, so plans were made for the family’s first Kelpie purchase.

“We bought a bit more land for my brother and I … so (Kimmy) will be great for our growing team,” Ashley said.

“I really liked her, her practicality for me, something that’s ready to go, easy and she’s a very loveable and friendly dog when you’re not working sheep.

“I had a few dogs picked out to look at, but from the trial today, that’s what set her apart.”

Tasmania had great representation in Casterton over the weekend, with 11 dogs from across the Strait in the auction catalogue, a strong field of bidders registered from the Apple Isle and several more “just here to visit”.

“The boys that sell a lot of Kelpies here, they do a lot of trialling and they’re a tight-knit group, so while (the Kelpie Muster and Working Dog Auction) are not well-advertised (in Tasmania), we certainly know it’s on,” Ashley said.

Kimmy will be heading straight into work when she hits dry land on the other side of the Strait and there’s also potential for her to help with the continued expansion of the Meaburn’s working dog team.

“We have got lambing coming up, so she’ll be handy for that, crutching, shearing … all the jobs,” Ashley said.

“She’s very well bred, so (a breeding bitch) could be something we could look at.”

And did Kimmy blow the budget?

“I think she’s gonna be a good dog, so, well worth it,” Ashley said.

Return hailed a success

Auction co-ordinator, Jarrod Alcorn said the Kahlee-Kimmy-Ashley trio epitomised Casterton’s Premier Working Dog Auction and the high-quality standards its working committee set for the event.

“We have heard the same things from quite a few vendors … a lot of vendors were ‘umm-ing and aah-ing’ on their reserves right up to the auction, because they did not want to part with their dog and it’s good to get those types of dogs,” Jarrod said.

“It shows that we’re attracting the right people to come and get these dogs and get dogs that are loved, from the vendors.”

He said the quality and consistency of the lots on offer were also evident in the prices paid.

Three lots sold for more than $20,000 in addition to Kimmy, Lot 21 – Jack Leonard’s outstanding bitch, Sally, labelled as the one to watch going into Sunday’s auction – sold for $26,000 and at Lot 36, Sarah Lee, half of the current record-price holder, sold The Lee’s Beast for $24,000.

An additional 14 lots sold for $10,000 and above.

“It’s probably the most consistent, I think, across the board that we have had and the most we have had above that 20-mark, so it’s a great result for the auction and the vendors,” Jarrod said.

In his first year as auction co-ordinator and with only two years’ Kelpie Association committee experience, Jarrod said he was overwhelmed by the amount of work that went into the event, but more-so the efforts of volunteers who put up their hands to make it happen.

“I have only been (to the live auction) once before and that was to look at dogs, not as part of the committee,” he said.

“I had really big shoes to fill, but people like Nicky Holmberg, she’s been here for 25 years and has been really good, really supportive and the vendors themselves have helped out a lot. They have just been great.

“You have got Jack Matthew, the auctioneers, Bernie and James, who volunteer their time and the fellas who help run the demonstrations and Giles Kent who is just amazing.

“Giles has been non-stop since he got back to Casterton from WA.

“He needed a few coffees to get himself going this morning, but he’s just done a power of work and we would not get through without him.”

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