Gem wins national dog title

By Deniliquin Pastoral Times

When Peri Chappell took in a working dog named Gem 2 1/2 years ago, the young dog was ‘‘completely shut down and barely moved around sheep’’.

Now, Gem has a national title under her belt.

Gem and Peri returned from the March Australian Yard Dog Championships with a win in the improver section.

It means Gem is the top dog in that category in Australia, and can now graduate to the open class.

‘‘There were handlers from five states competing, and there were 45 dogs in the improver class,’’ Peri said.

‘‘Heading in to the finals we were leading by just two points, and we held on to win the section by just one.

‘‘At the Deniliquin trials just a few weeks earlier (held as part of the Deniliquin Show) we went in to the finals with a lead and then lost, so there were a few nerves.’’

The March 18 to 21 Australian championships were held in Lucindale, South Australia.

It was the first time Peri has competed at that level.

‘‘Lucindale is the pinnacle of trialling — the national championships,’’ she said.

‘‘It was not only my first time competing at Lucindale, it was the first time I had ever competed in South Australia.

‘‘While anyone can enter the competition, to be in the improver section you must have previously won at maiden and novice levels.

‘‘I decided to enter because they are the Australian championships, and I wanted to travel a bit and just have a go.’’

With all other scheduled trials cancelled due to the Coronavirus pandemic, Peri said it may be a while before she can trial Gem in the open section.

But she said as soon as events start, she will be aiming to reach finals in that next level.

‘‘I want to go back to Lucindale next year and try and qualify for the top five.’’

Peri, who until earlier this year ran a dog rescue business form her Deniliquin farm, rescued Gem from a pound 2 1/2 years ago.

She said while it has taken some work, she managed to help the once anti-social animal build her confidence to be among the country’s best.

‘‘She was afraid of the world when I first got her, but now she’s a very social dog.

‘‘At trails if she sees any children, she’ll pulling because she just has to go and meet them.

‘‘On the working side of things, it was just about bringing out her natural instincts.

‘‘Three years ago she wouldn’t even stay in the yard or sack sheep, but now she’s a champion worker.’’

Peri took two dogs to Lucindale to compete, entering Fat Boy in the maiden but missing out on a top five finish.