Top trainer ‘reads’ dogs

SHARE

Ken McDiarmid entered dogs in the Gore dog sale for the first time in 1967. Now, 49 years later, he has entered two young dogs in this year’s sale, to be held at the end of the month. Although he did not have an accurate count of the number of dogs he had sold at the Gore sale, it was more than 80. Over the years he had trained more than 300, Mr McDiarmid said. He paid the entry fee for his first dog sale in 1967 in pounds, shillings and pence. After selling the dog, he was paid out in dollars and cents because New Zealand had moved to decimal currency while the sale was being held, he said. The dog sold for $90, which was a ‘‘reasonable’’ price in those days, he said. ‘‘I think it was around 10 shillings [$1 for the] fee ,’’ Mr McDiarmid said. Now the entry fee was $34.50. Mr McDiarmid, who lives near Wyndham, has been attending the annual dog show for almost 50 years, with the odd missed sale. He had lived in many places around the South Island during the years, ranging from Riverton to near Nelson. He often travelled to the Gore dog sale. ‘‘I’ve topped the sale four times,’’ he said. In 1978 he sold a dog for the record price of $1500 at Gore. The previous year’s record was $1040. Training dogs was a good hobby that had also helped pay for a new tractor and a new car over the years, he said. He took other people’s reject dogs and turned them into eager working dogs. ‘‘They’re all I work with.’’ Many were plucked off death row. His dog-training prowess had become widely known and he was at times inundated with dogs. ‘‘I think people used to slow down to see if there was an empty kennel,’’ Mr McDiarmid said. ‘‘People just come out of the woodwork.’’ Although Mr McDiarmid still loves training dogs, he recently decided he will only take in two more dogs. After that he will only train his own animals. The interest in training dogs was kindled when Mr McDiarmid was a child. Training dogs for rabbiting provided the introduction for dog training. ‘‘It just sort of grew on me. ‘‘I used to start lambing each year with a new dog.’’ Mr McDiarmid mostly concentrates on training heading and handy dogs, with a few huntaways thrown in for good measure. The ability to ‘‘read’’ each dog and determine its temperament was important, he said. Some were very timid and needed extra care. ‘‘I just have to vary it for each dog.’’