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Stockmans Profile - Pip Flower

Australian Working Stock Dog Magazine - Issue 20, September 2022

Born and raised in Bath, England, Pip Flower visited Australia in 2011 as a backpacker with her friend at the age of nineteen ready to enjoy and explore Australia. Their first six weeks in Australia was full of fun and parties but their money quickly ran out and it was time to replenish the bank account. Pip found a job on a cattle station in the Gulf and her love for agriculture blossomed from there.

Growing up Pip, had pet dogs around her, but at the time she considered herself to be more of a cat person. Later in life, it became Pip’s dream to own her own Border Collie due to their intelligence and looks. Whilst working on properties in rural Australia she purchased her first working dog pup, Kaden’s Betty, off Denise Hawe from Longreach. Denise gave Pip her introduction to dog trialling.

After three years of living in Australia, Pip moved back to England where she completed a degree in Agriculture at the Royal Agricultural University and became a trained arborist. During this time, she discovered Australia is where she wanted to live permanently. Through the sponsorship of Jim and Rhonda O’Connell from Camara Station in Winton, Pip returned to Australia with a working visa and later on she received permanent residency. Pip’s desire to work sheep and attend dog trials resulted in her moving from Winton to work on properties in Tasmania for a while.

Currently, Pip lives in Texas, Queensland, where she owns a starter block and contract musters goats and sheep work. After limited amounts of sheep and sheep work for her dogs, Pip has recently accepted a job offer in Maffra, New South Wales where she will be managing 10,000 crossbred ewes, allowing her to work her dogs every day.

When looking for a dog, Pip’s main focus is their temperament.They need to be sound and love you so that you can teach them anything you want” Pip said. Her main goal is to have a dog that is really strong, sound and biddable – the ultimate dog.

Pip finds when conducting sheep work, she likes to have certain dogs for certain needs. Pip’s paddock dogs are mainly Border Collies whilst for yard work she now utilises Huntaways after her introduction to them in Tasmania. Pip finds the Huntaways give her a little more firepower, particularly when she is working on her own. This year Pip is focusing on building her ideal team of dogs for sheep work, containing a mix of both Border Collies and Huntaways.

When it comes to training dogs pip has found Jim and Rhonda O’Connell taught her how to get her dog to carry its sheep, helping to calmly move her sheep between obstacles during a three sheep trial. Whilst in Tasmania, Pip needed to have the control in her dogs to move crossbred lambs back through a fence, she has found this work helped her with the obstacles of the three sheep trials as a lot of times you would only have one shot and it needed to work perfectly.

These days Pip uses tips and pointers from multiple different people and creates her own style when it comes to training her dogs. Pip finds bringing her pups up correctly by getting the basics right and not rushing them, allows her to build a strong and capable dog. She does this by bringing them up with a lot of love and fair discipline, so they know what their purpose is when working sheep – to please the handler.

Pip’s biggest achievements with her dogs would be coming sixth with her home bred dog, Flower’s Hurricane, at the recent Three Sheep Nationals this year in Hall, especially considering she’s never competed at that level before. She also found the Mackenzie Hazelton Charity Stock Dog Trial in Cowra a big achievement as her dog Wynella Coast has been extremely hard headed and the journey they have undergone flourished at that competition whilst winning the Cattle and Paddock Section, resulting in second position overall.

Away from trialling, Pip’s proudest achievement is now having the confidence to go out and just complete a stock job, where she no longer has the thought that she may not be able to get it done. Instead, she gets in there and gets it done.

Future ambitions for Pip include improving her trialling skills and having a really good team of working dogs that can trial competitively in the open ring of a weekend and still complete stock job tasks throughout the week. Her aim is to have dogs where you don’t need to rely on getting suitable sheep, she wants them to step up and control them no matter the sheep’s temperament.

Pip’s motto in life is to not be afraid of doing things and ask questions, people are a lot nicer than we expect. People will want to help you if you’re willing to listen and practice what they are teaching you. Ultimately, Pip wants people to know that anyone can do it. She herself came from a city in England and is confidently and competently living a successful working life in rural Australia.

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