For Brian Dickison, when he and dog Cole won the Tux South Island Sheep Dog Trial Championships' long head competition in Hanmer Springs in May, the prize came second to the satisfaction.

''The most satisfying thing about having done so well is earning the respect from my fellow dog triallists, my peers,'' he said.

''It is not about winning the money for me.

''That is the greatest reward, the respect from people from all over the country.''

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Dickison belongs to the Greenvale Collie Club, near Heriot, and having qualified, he and Cole competed in the short head and yard in the Tux New Zealand Sheep Dog Trial Championships in Ohaeawai, Northland, last month.

However, despite placing fifth, competing in such a prestigious competition felt good.

''It has been a great season, the best I have had.

''I've never won a New Zealand and that is still on my 'to do' list, but winning the South Island felt like a New Zealand, particularly on one of the most difficult courses in the South Island.

Brian Dickison, of Waikaka, said honest dogs were important for dog trialling success. Cole (left) and Mack are his top trialling team. Photo / Yvonne O'Hara
Brian Dickison, of Waikaka, said honest dogs were important for dog trialling success. Cole (left) and Mack are his top trialling team. Photo / Yvonne O'Hara

''Competing in a South Island [champs] is like playing against Auckland at Eden Park.''

Dickison is a sheep farmer, and runs 5000 Perendales on his 560ha Waikaka property.

He began dog trialling when he was 30, after giving up playing rugby.

''I find dog trialling is a great sport, an offshoot of farming.

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''It gets me off the farm and mixing with people, young and old.''

He also breeds dogs, and finds one in 10 or 12 pups turns out to be a special dog.

Cole and 5-year-old Mack are his top team at present.

''They are in their prime. 'I have a very strong bond with both Mack and Cole, which is one of the keys to doing well."

''They never question when I ask them to do stuff, and they respond to the best of their ability. They want to do their best."

''Cole is special. He is very honest; his honesty is second to none."

''When he goes through his work or trialling he gives it everything he has got and he is honest in his performance.

''However, I have to be careful and be calm when I step up to the mark [in trialling].

''I don't want my nervousness to flow through to the dogs.''

He said he spent many hours training his dogs.

''You have got to put the time into training them. It is about being consistent, and doing it little and often. Training a dog is about having total respect for the dog by the owner, and of the owner by the dog."

''I start training them at an early age, and will spend probably about half an hour every night with them.''

He expected his dogs to be well-mannered, calm, sensible and honest.

He was looking forward to the Greenvale club hosting next year's national dog trials from May 18 to 22, he said.

Up to 700 people were expected, along with about 250 dogs per event.