A Southern Rural Life investigation has discovered the most popular name for a working dog in the South. One name came out on top in both Otago and Southland. Shawn McAvinue reports.
Move over Rover - the most popular working dog name in both Otago and Southland is Meg.
More than 14,500 working dogs are registered at councils in Otago and Southland - Central Otago District (1261), Clutha District (2940), Dunedin City (1092), Gore District (1211), Invercargill City (196), Queenstown Lakes District (531), Southland District (5538) and Waitaki District (1767).
Also on the podium for most popular working dog name in the South was Jess, then Max.
Meg was on the podium for most popular name at seven councils. The only council where Meg failed to finish in the top three names was Clutha District.
Meg was top spot in five councils including Central Otago District, home to 20 working dogs registered with the name.
Dog triallist Paul McCarthy (71), of Alexandra, owns one of them.
He had been working with dogs most of his life and "there's always been Megs around - some good ones too".
The Omakau-Earnscleugh Collie Club vice-president ran 20-month-old heading dog Meg at trials in Tapanui and Gore this year and has "confidence in her ability", but she was yet to be proven.
"She's looking pretty good, I'm really pleased with her."
The aim was to qualify her to compete in the South Island Championships, where dogs would shift up to 4000 merino sheep across four courses at Earnscleugh Station in Alexandra in May next year.
His wife Rhona bred Meg.
Rhona also bred Meg's mother Lee, grandmother Meg and great-grandmother Lee, the names alternating between generations.
McCarthy said the best dog names had one syllable because it was easier to use as a command and for the dog to understand than a polysyllabic name.
The names of dogs at trials were more diverse than they once were, such as a dog at a recent trial called Dreamtime.
"There's some real flash and radical names now."
He breeds working dogs and picks names relating to the history of a dog, such as his dog Colt, whose mother was owned by fellow triallist Amy Coulter.
Another of his dogs was called Ernie because it was born at Earnscleugh Station.
"The thrill of breeding a pup and taking it right through is pretty good."
Omakau-Earnscleugh Collie Club secretary and treasurer Matt Hore, of Cromwell, said he registered triallists and their dogs at events and it was no surprise traditional female working dog names were the most popular.
Female dogs were given more traditional names, such as Meg and Jess, whereas male dogs were given more "obscure and varied" names.
The second-most popular name in the South was Jess, which had a podium finish in six councils but never got the top spot.