Riley here - as part of MaxMom's "Unitiy in Diversity" initiative I thought I would tell you a few things about what it is like to be a dog in New Zealand.
First I need to check you all know where my country is... New Zealand is a small country at the bottom of the world, to the South-East of Australia.
You see people often confuse us "Kiwis" with Australians because our countries are so close together but there are many differences including our accent is different and our flag is different (Australia has the same blue background and union jack in the top left corner (to recognise old links to the UK) but we have four red stars with a white boarder (to represent the Southern Cross) whereas they have six white stars).
I was born in the centre of the North Island, and now live in Auckland which is the largest city in New Zealand. There are currently about 4.3 million people in New Zealand, with 401,500 people and 22,000 dogs (according to Auckland City Council) within the Auckland City boundary, and 1.25 million people in the greater Auckland area (which includes neighbouring city councils in our region).
Auckland's business district,
with the Auckland Harbour Bridge in the foreground
The 2006 census results said "Auckland was the most ethnically diverse region in New Zealand, with 56.5 percent of its population identifying with the European ethnic group, 18.9 percent with the Asian ethnic group, 14.4 percent with the Pacific peoples ethnic group, and 11.1 percent with the Māori ethnic group."
There is a great diversity of dogs here too, and it always surprises me how many different breeds I meet when I am out and about at the park, running on the beach or at a class (where I've done some obedience and agility training). Our New Zealand Kennel Club recognises 205 breeds in seven groups, but the NZKC don't yet recognise a dog that is very important to our country...
THE NEW ZEALAND HUNTAWAY
New Zealand Huntaway puppies
Why is this dog important, well farming has always been a big part of our export industry, and our country has areas where vehicles and farmers on horses easily can't get to (think of the scenery that you saw in the "Lord of the Rings" movies which were filmed here) so dogs are used to control the movements of animals (like sheep) from a distance and round them up.
Our farmers use two types of dogs.
Heading dogs (also known as Eye Dogs), which quietly move around the front of the animals, move them into a group and eye them into moving the way the farmer wants. Border Collies (traditionally used in places like Scotland) are popular for this. Border Collies came to NZ with our early settlers.
The second type is "Huntaway" dogs. These dogs gather up animals from behind with their deep barks, and use their noisy barking to drive the sheep forward. The dogs are breed through selective breeding for their working ability, and are usually black and/or tan (but sometimes also have white), have a long or short coat, are 20-24 inches (51-61 cm) high and weigh 40-65 pounds (18-29.5 kg). Huntaways can also be used for heading.
There is a statue of a NZ Hunterway in Hunterville (a small town in the North Island) as a tribute to this breed of dog.
If you want to see farm dogs in action, here is a link to a
A Dog's Show (which screened on NZ television between 1977-1992) with three clips showing Sheep Dog trials.
We also have our very own cartoon about a dog and his experience of farm life.
The cartoon is called "Footrot Flats" by Murray Ball. There are many characters (both human and animal) but the main character is a sheepdog called "Dog" (he was called "Dog" as he always managed to stop anyone saying out loud the name he was given as a puppy).
This cartoon was published in our newspapers and in newspapers around the world from 1975-1994, made into books and even into New Zealand's first animated movie. If you're interested click on the images below to enlarge them,
One last piece of trivia - did you know that all dogs registered here for the first time after 1 July 2006 (as well older dogs that are classified as "menacing" "dangerous" or dogs that have been impounded) have to be microchipped, so I'm a high-tech dog! The only exception is for working farm dogs. Now strangers can scan my neck and find out about me, even though the same details are on my ID tag and dog registration tag attached to my collar for anyone to see if they want to read this information the old fashioned way.
Well our next game is against Italy (the current world cup holders) on Sunday (South African time) which will be early Monday morning here. Keep your paws crossed for a good game, and in the meantime I'll be resting like Dog below, and saving my best barking to direct our NZ team where to go while I watch the game from afar.
UPDATE Our team of underdogs (ranked 78th) could not be beaten by Italy (ranked 5th). It was a 1-1 draw. Mum and I are so proud of our New Zealand team!