Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Dogs in New Zealand

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...


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,


or this link to see part of the film

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!


Friday, June 11, 2010

Remembering MaxDog as the World Cup begins

Who could read or hear the words “2010 FIFA World Cup” and “South Africa” today without thinking of our dear friend Max. MaxDog kindly introduced so many of you to me, and he told us all about the World Cup, the stadiums, the build up, the souvenirs, those funny long things that make noise and so much more about what it is like to live in or visit South Africa through his blog The Adventures of Max Dog in South Africa.

Last April MaxMom posted these photos of Max and Tammy, on Max’s website.  

When I saw Max’s photo I realised that I wanted to be part of his team of animals around the world who celebrate this event. You see Max is my hero because of his attitude to life, his ability to share his world, and the way he and his mom handled tough times together, so I told Max back in April that I was going to post a picture of me supporting my team the day the world cup started.
I don’t often get dressed up, but I do keep my promises, so just for Max here I am.


Sadly Max crossed the Rainbow Bridge on the 24th of May, but MaxMom has continued to tell us about the build up to the 2010 World Cup and what it is like to be in South Africa through her own blog Living Life to the Max She has shared her excitement with us and it is contagious! My mum doesn’t usually follow sport, but by reading Max's blog and now MaxMom's blog my mum has become interested in this event. 
New things have appeared at our house like this ball for me to play with.


I have been having fun training while trying to work out the football rules for dogs - like can I use all four paws, as a Retriever is my task just to retrieve the ball or do I need to pass it on to another player, is it OK to use my mouth (or is that only allowed if I am the goal keeper, and why does the ball change shape when I use my mouth!) and what special food treats do I get if I score a goal?


In between my training photos are a few thing I would like to tell you about my team:


  • New Zealand are ranked 78th in the world by FIFA, but made it into the 32 teams that are in the World Cup!


  • This is the second time we have been in the World Cup. The first was 28 years ago in Spain.

  • We are in group F so play against Italy (ranked 5th), Slovakia (34th) and Paraguay (31st).

  • Our proudest moment, so far, was beating Serbia (ranked 15th) 1-0 last month in a friendly build-up game!

  • Our team is called “The All Whites” (mum thinks this is a strange name for a team going to play in a country with a history of apartheid).  


  • However the "All Whites" got their name in 1981 in the lead up to the 1982 World Cup, as black and white (and sometimes silver) are the national colours for our sporting teams. New Zealand's national team names often refer to these colours e.g. the All Blacks (rugby union), Tall Blacks (basketball), Blackcaps (cricket), Black Ferns (women’s rugby union), Silver Ferns (netball).




  • The fern is a symbol of our country, and the fern logo is often used on our sporting uniforms and appears on flags you will see being waved in the stadiums. There is the outline of a fern on the flag I'm holding.  

  • Out team usually plays in a white uniform with a small black fern logo (on the top and shorts), but our alternative away uniform is the reverse of this - so the All Whites sometimes play dressed in black.


  • New Zealand is ten hours ahead of South Africa, which means to watch our team play live I’ll have to be woken up at 11.30pm or 2am. This is going to be very confusing for me, as once I go to “bed” at night I’m normally only woken up when it is time for breakfast.

I have my paws crossed that our team will have some good games, and if they need an extra player I’m ready to help them! 

Thank you Max for getting mum and me interested in this, and as the World Cup starts I'd like to encourage anyone reading this to visit MaxMom's blog as she is doing something wonderful. She is celebrating the diversity of all the countries involved in the World Cup and encouraging us to learn more about each other. Click on the "Unity in Diversity" button top right of this web page or this link Living Life to the Max for instructions how to be involved.

Well Max I know you are watching over from above, and that you have a grandstand view as your country hosts this exciting event. We are thinking of you,



Saturday, June 5, 2010

Riley and the Koru

Sometimes I know my mum thinks too much. You see when she heard that The Portuguese Water Blog was having a bandana challenge she decided that she would like to have my picture included, but mum wanted me to have a bandana that represented where I live. Now if I was in Scotland, where my Golden Retriever ancestors came from, that would be easy… it would have to be tartan, but I was born in New Zealand.

I’ve never had a bandana before, so mum started thinking about what sort of bandana I could wear. Mum thought about our country, Kiwiana and the Maori culture here, and different symbols of our country. She decided if I was going to wear a red bandana it should have a Koru on it.

So what exactly is a Koru? Well the Koru is a symbol that represents new life, and it can also represent the form of a wave as it approaches land. This symbol has been used for a long time by Maori, and can be found in the curved form of the fern frond.

This Koru symbol appears in jewellery,
in fabric, in logos like for our national airline (on their uniforms and planes),
it is used by Maori artists, and stylised (like this painting by Gordon Walters),
it appears on the Maori (Tino Rangatiratanga) flag below (which is sometimes flown with our New Zealand flag),

inside and outside on Maori buildings,

on the shirts of some of our sports teams, for tattoos and many other places.

When Korus are used together and they form what is called a "Kowhaiwhai" pattern, and the way the koru (or pit au) are placed also represents things.

So mum looked at various fabrics and the way that the pattern is repeated and used.

Most of your mums and dads would have just picked something red (which was already in your house) and had your photos taken and sent in by now, but mum eventually found a piece of fabric she liked (the background even matches the colour of my nose) and it was time for my photo shoot…

Dog logic = I think this is a bib because...I
drool whenever I see food and mum is waving
food around to get me to look at her...
so I’m starting to drool... so it must be a bib!

I've don't usually get dressed up for
anything, so this is all a bit of a laugh.
I finally have my very own bandana. BOL

If I close my eyes and stick out my
tongue will you stop taking so many photos!

Oh - so this is what you were after!

So now, when you see my photo displayed on The Portuguese Water Blog, you will know why I have all those squiggly red lines on my chest and what a Koru is. 
If you haven’t already entered your photo there is still time to be part of this fun event. Check out their website The Portuguese Water Blog The instructions are easy, and I'm predicting you'll be much faster at doing this than my mum was!
We are both looking forward to seeing your pictures on the 10th of June, and if you have read this far leave me a bark hello, as it would be great to hear from you!
Have a great weekend,