Dog trainer James Shipman, of Great Marlow, with his champion student, Jazz.
Dog trainer James Shipman, of Great Marlow, with his champion student, Jazz. Jojo Newby

Dynamic duo takes gold

IF THERE was ever a case for the adage “loving something makes you good at it”, Jamie Shipman, of Great Marlow, would have to be a benchmark.

Jamie, the owner of 26 short-haired border collies, took out the open section of the NSW Working Stock Dog Championships last weekend with his loyal and cunning bitch, Jazz – beating some 80 other competitors.

The dynamic duo were the highest scorers in all three rounds of the competition.

Jamie, who admits he is a little obsessed with working dogs, competed with a total of seven dogs during the championships (he also placed fourth in the novice event with Rusty and sixth in the maiden event with Sizzle).

The Clarence Valley was represented well in the championships – Happy Davis, of Brushgrove, won the maiden section with his bitch, Mandy, and Shawn Molloy, 16, of Clarenza, placed third in the open section with his dog, Bob.

Jamie, who began competing in trials in 2005, is no stranger to success in the arena and nor is Jazz.

Jazz won the NSW Novice title in 2009, while Jamie has so many trophies it would be impractical to mention them all – suffice to say he has previously won the Australian Championships (2007), the NSW Championships (Novice 2009, Maiden 2008) and the NSW v QLD “State of Origin” team title (2007, 2010).

The titles certainly don’t do Jamie’s breeding/training business any harm.

While untrained pups can be sold at six weeks of age for about $400, a moderately trained one-year-old might fetch $1000 and an intensively trained and successful dog could fetch up to $6000.

The dogs are now more important to Jamie’s 100-acre farming operation than his cattle – and they take less feed and acreage.

Jamie said the trick to training dogs was doing a little bit often.

“It’s a lot like teaching children.

"They can only take in so much at a time and if you spend too long teaching them they get bored,” said the father of four.

Jamie was eager to show off the skills of his most prized student to The Daily Examiner last week.

It started with a particularly low whistle at which Jazz, and I wouldn’t have believed it if I didn’t see it, began walking backwards.

Out in the open paddock, Jamie issued a simple word command – something like “sheep, go back” – and Jazz bolted off in search of her quarry, within minutes on her way back with a group of cattle.

Maybe the sheep were hiding in a building, but Jazz, it seemed, did not want to return empty handed.

Jamie then said “sheep ... right back – all the way” and Jazz took off into the distance in search of the woolies.

A few minutes later a herd of about a dozen sheep were headed back to the gate.

Next it was the chooks, and while this proved a little more difficult for Jazz, she nonetheless rounded up all 10 of the fowls successfully (without any loss of feathers).

Asked why he enjoyed working dogs, Jamie explained that he used to enjoy cricket (first grade for Westlawn) until a motorbike accident forced his body into a breakdown.

“I saw the NSW championships at Ulmarra and I thought ‘I can do this’,” he said.

“I love animals and dogs are my favourite animal, there’s a special bond there.

"You just have to look at how Jazz looks at me, she loves me ... and it’s the whole breeding and raising and pups.

“And it’s about bringing out the best in each dog.”

Jamie said he was taught how to train and handle dogs by one of the best – Darrell Williams, of South Grafton.

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