WORKING dogs have become another tool in the tool box for Western Australian farmers.
And - in times of high labour costs and worker shortages - the humble and hardworking employees are valued now more than ever.
Next month, West Coast Wool & Livestock is presenting the inaugural Western Australian working dog auction - in conjunction with the Rabobank WA Sheep Expo & Ram Sale - at the Katanning Showgrounds on Friday, August 19, from 1.30pm.
Seventeen kelpies, border collies and cattle dogs varying from four months up to one-year-plus will be offered.
The auction was organised by members of the WA Working Sheepdogs Association, Blake Robinson, Frankland River and Jim Harradine, Williams.
Mr Robinson said it seemed like a "wasted opportunity" not having an auction locally, particularly given the red-hot market in the Eastern States.
"Jim and I said it would be nice to have something here, so we could give more of a market to the proper, well-bred working dogs," Mr Robinson said.
"It gives people something to work toward each year - if they wanted to keep a pup back from a litter to train up and sell on.
"The aim is to make this an annual event."
Mr Robinson said farmers were looking for low-stress livestock handling to improve profitability.
He said a four-legged farmhand could save on wages, hours and management time.
"Instead of three blokes drafting sheep, you can do it yourself with one handy dog," Mr Robinson said.
"It is also about breaking the mentality that dogs are just pets.
"They can be your best friend, but they can still do that next level job, which is what we want to show people."
Growing up on his family's mixed cropping and sheep farm at South Stirling, Mr Robinson was drawn into working dogs from a young age but he didn't realise the animal's full potential until he started trialling in 2018.
"I was hooked - trial work changed the way I looked at what a dog can be and what I have been doing," he said.
"Now there is nothing I can't do by myself when it comes to stock work with my dogs there.
"They just make it so easy."
A short video of nominated dogs completing different jobs will be uploaded to AuctionsPlus prior to the event.
Further demonstrations will be held in the yards on the day.
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