Maketū's Carolyn Symmans is used to people being puzzled by the dog that is her constant companion.

Moana attracts a lot of attention, but few people are able to guess her breed.

''I get a lot of people coming up to me and I know they won't guess the breed. They think she could be a corgi cross or an Alsatian cross - I've had all that sort of thing,'' says Carolyn.

Moana is a pure bred Skye terrier.

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''It's an old breed of Scotland. They were originally bred to hunt badgers because of their long, lean body.''

There are few of them in New Zealand.

''She'd be the only one in the Bay of Plenty to my knowledge,'' says Carolyn.

''People don't know much about them - they are a challenge as puppies and you've really got to be on top of them. They can be very boisterous and you've got to start training them from the word go.''

Undoubtedly the world's most famous Skye terrier was Grayfriar's Bobby who became known in 19th-century Edinburgh for spending 14 years guarding the grave of his owner.

The faithful dog is commemorated in a statue in the city and the story told in a 1961 Disney movie. How much truth there is in the story is open to debate, but the breed's loyalty is well known.

''They are known for their devotion to their owner and they are very intelligent.''
Moana was born on Christmas Day.

In the late 1980s and 1990s Carolyn used to show Skye terriers.

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''When I was showing before, I used to do a lot of winning - I was one of the most feared competitors in the terrier ring.''

Moana is destined for the show ring.

''Due to an accident I stopped showing them - and it wasn't until recent times, I think about November, October [that I thought about starting again].''

''I'm very friendly with a woman in Australia who mentored me with Skyes when I had them, and she told me about this litter that had been born in Carterton.

''Then I got an email from a lady I know in Melbourne and another from a lady in Finland and I thought, 'oh, blow it, why not?' and I decided to purchase her.''

Moana's mother was imported from the UK and her father from Finland.

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Without the Covid-19 pandemic, Carolyn might have already started showing Moana as three months is the minimum age for showing.

''She's a very good specimen of the breed and my mentor over in Australia, I send pictures over quite regularly and also to the breeder [Louise Lynch] and tell them about what she's getting up to, and she has said she's going to be very, very good - I think she's going to
do a lot of winning when I get her into the show ring.

''A lot of people have stopped me in the street and I encourage them to pat her because it's all part of her socialisation and education. I can't get over how intelligent she is didn't take me long to teach her.

Carolyn has experience of both handling and judging show dogs.

''The skill in handling them is, you've got to talk to them and encourage them, you can't just go dragging them around the ring. I use my voice - the tone of my voice is enough.
I've done dog psychology and dog whispering.''

Carolyn says Moana is a joy to have around the place.

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''She's got a beautiful temperament.''

Moana is now five months old and weighs 9.7kg. She won't grow much more - with an adult weighing between 10kg and 11kg.

''She will end up growing quite a long coat and I'll have to keep it groomed and brushed.''

Carolyn is also using Moana as a therapy dog, taking her to visit older people.