SPECTACULAR EFFORT: Dog trainer Heidi MacKay with her two stars Red and Oi, who were bred at Mandy Sansom’s Callicoma stud before joining the cast of the Australian Outback Spectacular.
SPECTACULAR EFFORT: Dog trainer Heidi MacKay with her two stars Red and Oi, who were bred at Mandy Sansom’s Callicoma stud before joining the cast of the Australian Outback Spectacular.

Kelpies show it’s not all about being top dog

KELPIES certainly make better understudies than humans, if the way two Clarence Valley-bred dogs have settled into their shared role at the Australian Outback Spectacular on the Gold Coast is any indication.

Unlike human substitutes notorious for sabotage and plotting to achieve top billing, these two dogs even have names that make them interchangeable on stage.

The dogs were raised at the Callicoma kennel of Clarence Valley breeders Mandy and Bill Sansom, who were told the dogs' names when they viewed the show late last year.

Ms Sansom said after the first dog she sent to the show's producers, named Red, proved a success and was given a larger role in the show, they needed another other dog to take his place if he was ill.

Red's trainer Heidi MacKay chose a puppy born in March last year, who is a three-quarter brother to Red.

But how would they get the new dog to answer to his name on stage?

"They called him Oi so that in the show they could say 'Oi Red', and it would work whichever dog was playing the role ... clever," Ms Sansom said.

Ms Sansom said watching the production had been a moving experience.

"I was in tears as Red played his role in front of 1100 people with spotlights on him and loud music playing," she said.

They called him Oi so that in the show they could say 'Oi Red', and it would work whichever dog was playing the role ... clever.

"His trainer is behind the scenes and just sends him into the arena to do his job on his own and he did not miss a beat."

Ms MacKay was just as rapturous in her praise.

"They're the two best dogs I've ever had," she said.

"I've got it written into my contract as trainer that when they finish working, they come home to live with me."



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