HELENSVALE dog owner Sally Purbrick-Illek is a great believer in keeping her pets active and useful.
Border collie Champ volunteers as a "reading dog" at the Helensvale State School and as a therapy dog at the Blue Care Arundel Woodlands Lodge Aged Care Facility.
"He also continues to teach me about sheep herding once a week at a friend's place near Canungra," Sally said.
His best mate Pepper is a rescue pup who takes part in several dog sports including lure coursing, tracking, nose work, frisbee, endurance and bikejor (dog mushing).
"After my dog Lucy died of lymphoma in 2015, I knew I had to have another dog," Sally said.
"A friend told me of a dog she had seen on Gumtree.
"So I stopped at the owner's place and was met by a very sad situation.
"Here was a six-month-old kelpie cross border collie Pepper, who was the result of an unplanned pregnancy on a property in rural Queensland.
"The farmer's wife sold her to a young man who had no idea how to raise a working dog.
"It is sad but true that many people adopt working breeds as pups and then end up re-homing them because they don't understand that most working breeds need a job to do.
"He gave her to his parents who told me they disliked animals and were keeping her in sordid conditions.
"It was love at first sight and I knew I had to take her home.
"She was very timid and undernourished when I adopted her."
To build up Pepper's confidence, Sally took her to obedience school and gave the sport of dog agility a go.
"We gave sheep-herding a try, but she wanted to chase and not herd them," she said.
"I have always liked working with animals.
"At one time I considered becoming a vet so I jumped at the chance to adopt five-year-old working border collie Champ from my herding instructor."
Champ wasn't in the best of health at the time.
"I noticed that something was not quite right with his back.
"My suspicions were confirmed when he was found to be suffering from an untreated injury, most likely incurred when he was a just a pup," Sally said.
"So I changed his diet and have been working with my chiropractor to help in his rehabilitation. He is now able to work sheep again .
"On a casual basis, we train weekly with an eye towards competing in the not-too-distant future."
Champ loves the attention he gets from the special education program students at Helensvale State School.
"Our volunteer work at the Blue Care Arundel Woodlands Lodge involves us going around the common areas and visiting the residents in their rooms when invited to do so," Sally said.
"Many of these people have been dog owners in the past, and talking about dogs is a great way to involve them in conversation.
"Champ was bred for his calm, even temperament and even residents who don't speak can't resist stroking his soft, luxuriant coat.
"It has also been shown that interacting with dogs has many benefits for elderly people."
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