A partially blind Tasmanian farm dog from Fingal has claimed the title of Australasia’s hardest-working dog.
Farmer Alex Johns and his 3-year-old Kelpie, Earl, secured the championship in the recent 2023 Cobber Challenge, where they represented Tasmania against 12 other working dogs from Australia and New Zealand.
Over the course of 21 days, Earl and Alex covered a total of 1,343km – making them the fastest duo in the competition with an average top speed of 14.1km/h.
Organisers say Earl’s performance set a new record and also landed him the title of the fastest-ever Cobber Challenge competitor.
Johns says he couldn’t be prouder of his best mate Earl.
“I knew we were in with a chance because we’ve had a seriously busy few months down here with a
new shearing crew coming on board, so and Earl has been working harder than ever,” said Johns.
“It’s an even bigger achievement for Earl because he’s blind in one eye but that doesn’t stop him on
the farm. His quality of work is top notch.”
“I’m so proud to see him come out on top and I couldn’t be more thrilled to welcome another addition to my working dog team.”
Former Cobber Challenge Champion, Brad McDonald, was working on the same farm as Alex when he took out the title and says he’s proud to see another winner from Tasmania.
“When I won the Cobber Challenge in 2017 with my dog Flo, Alex was working alongside us so to see
him and Earl bring it home this year, it’s a really special moment,” said McDonald.
“Alex has done a great job with Earl and it’s a credit to him. Earl is a great working dog and he got some great numbers this year.”
“Farm work especially with sheep and cattle would cease to exist without working dogs,” said McDonald.
“They’re the only worker on a farm who does more than 50 kilometres on their feet every day and they do it all for a pat at the end of the day and a scoop of biscuits, Cobber of course!”
The Tasmanian duo took home the title, trophy, a $3000 cash prize, 12 bags of Cobber Working Dog feed and for the first time in the competition’s history – a brand-new puppy apprentice for Earl.
Second place went to Victoria’s Dan and Jack, while third place went to Jackson and Rose from the Northern Territory.