Choosing a (working) dog

When we moved here, one of the attractive aspects of life away from the city was to have a dog. I’d had dogs most of my life, but since we had been living in an apartment with lots of restrictions on pets, we had gone a number of years without one.

Choosing a dog breed

Our original plan was to adopt a rescue dog, but most of the advice pointed to a high chicken death toll from an adult rescue dog (there are rarely pups available for rescue from our local pound). We had a few other specific needs for a canine companion:

  • the need to assist with the keeping the rodent population down
  • easily trainable to keep away from the many potentially fatal hazards (snakes, cane toads)
  • robust, active, and able to handle the terrain
  • easily socialised for the many visitors we were expecting
  • good temperament with poultry

The search of the characteristics of different breeds began. Even though I have since found that the stereotypical breed characteristics are very loose at best, they can help to narrow down the choice. After much consideration, and with recommendations from friends, we decided to get a Smooth Fox Terrier pup.

Smooth Fox Terriers

Willow pup on turfSmooth Fox Terriers were once one of the most popular dog breeds in Australia, but started to fall out of fashion in the 1950s. Now they are fairly rare, much more so than their smaller cousin the ‘Mini Foxie’ or Tenterfield Terrier. Our search lead us to a breeder in Maryborough in Queensland, Jane Cantlon of Waitapu kennels. She had a female available, and during our conversation she reiterated that she bred for temperament before type, encouraged us to get one of her pups.

So on 05 July 2014, Waitapu Wylde Willow, we just call her Willow, came into our lives. She is a very lively, alert, headstrong and handsome girl. She has also been very easy to train, particularly for our particular environment.