Herding pair goose step up to the mark

By Zac Yates

Hunterville man Keith Berrett has herded all his life. First a fleet of trucks, then flocks of sheep, but now? Geese.

He and his dog Abby will put on a show unlike any other at today's Marton Harvest Fair as they herd a group of geese over hurdles and into a pen.

The former owner of Manawatu Transport said he was "conned into" today's job by Cath Ash from Rangitikei District Council, who had heard of his earlier efforts in the field.

"When I first got started doing dog trials I was running a lot of trucks, and sheep and trucks don't go together too well so I began using using ducks to break in new dogs instead. After a while I wanted to try something bigger so I got my grandson to catch some for me.

"I last did it about 10 years ago so we'll see how it goes on Saturday. I think we have half an hour to fill so I may get a couple of goes at it," he said.

Elaine Bismark, a friend of Keith's, said she had grown up with his children and knew he was held in high regard by the dog trial community.

"He judged dog trials nationally but he also used to do a lot of shows in the 50s with ducks and geese. I've got an old picture of him doing it in the middle of Hunterville.

"They were very popular."

Keith said geese were quite good to work with but as he was using neighbour Debbie Jones' flock today things may be different.

"I'm more used to working with part-wild geese but Debbie's ones are more like pets so they probably won't run around as much. Normally if they see her they'll just go straight to her."

He said he had run goose trial demonstrations at the Hunterville Shemozzle in the past and it was at one of those he had his only real bad run.

"It was the pipe band's anniversary that day and I was working quite a young dog. As we were walking past the band decided to practise so the poor pup panicked".

Among the other attractions at Marton Park on Follett St from 9am to 3pm today will be a demonstration by Wellington caterer and author Ruth Pretty, a homebrew competition and stalls selling local food and crafts.

- Wanganui Chronicle

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