It clearly stated "no dogs" but nowhere in the rules for the Great Forest Marathon at Waitarere Beach at the weekend did it say "no sheep".

Luca Cockrell, 10, was quick to point that out to organisers when he took the start line for the 5km event with his mate, Rey, a pet sheep he had raised from the bottle in the backyard since birth.

They were in no hurry to set time and were happy to follow the flock, often lying down to chew cud before setting off again.

Luca's mother, Sue, said her son took Rey for walks along the beach each day, so they were fairly fit. Entering the marathon event as a team made sense.

Once upon a time Rey had the run of the beach and was free to come and go as she pleased, but ruined a good thing by eating roses from the garden across the road.

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"She lives around the house. She was free range, for about five months ... but we still go for walks and she follows us along the beach," she said.

"She loves the company and people often stop and take photos."

Rey was named after a Star Wars character and had won prizes at agricultural events at school and in town. On the weekends they chill, with Luca often reading books to Rey.

Nowadays she was coralled in the back yard with her mate, Shay, a golden retriever-poodle cross.

Rey was available to mow lawns. Her lawnmowing service came with a free fertiliser dispenser, much sought-after on sandy beach lawn.