Dogs of New Zealand

travel dogs

The Dogs of New Zealand

As the year draws to a close, we are recall both our new year's resolutions and the memories built in the year past.  My new year's resolution for 2017 was to travel more.  This I wholeheartedly fulfilled with several epic adventures across the globe (and one fleeing a hurricane lol).  I will do a series of adventure posts.

My first big outing of the year took me across the world (literally) to New Zealand.  My first encounter with dogs on the islands of the Kiwis took place in the airport.  Kiwis, by the way, are the most friendly people you will ever meet.  Whilst the immigration and customs lady cleaned my hiking boots (and apologized for if she needed to apologize for cleaning my boots- thank you!!), I saw my first working New Zealand canine.  I watched a beagle in his official jacket alert to someone's suitcase in the line for customs.  My jet-lagged brain said "Oh wow, that dog is alerting to a bomb!"  and then thought "Cool!  Let's watch!"  Most of my friends know that I have no survival instincts.

New Zealand Lake Taupo
Proof of no survival instincts
bungy jumnping

Mountain Warehouse
And so I watched the bomb dog, rather than running away really fast.  It ended up the bomb-beagle was not, in fact, a bomb-beagle, but a produce alert dog.  Anything veggie, he finds.  New Zealand has strict protocol about what can be let into the country.  Vegetation of any kind is a big no-no- they take environmental health very seriously.  The beagle had found a leftover carrot-stick in the woman's bag.  Neato!  And we also did not die.  And we had clean hiking boots. Yay!

To get around New Zealand and to maximize my time there, I decided to venture out with a hop-on-hop-off tour bus.  I chose Stray Bus and they did an awesome job of it.  I highly recommend them, if you are considering a trip to New Zealand.  They are more on the adventure side and a little less on the party side (although we did our fair share of partying...we had a stop light party for Valentines' Day and I painted my face green...Okay I admit every clothing item was green down to my undies...but hey- I'm a single dog lady and I like green...a lot).  A tour bus helps you maximize the sights and does a lot of the legwork in planning for you.

 Mousetrap Backpackers Hostel Pahia, Bay of Islands
Morning at my hostel- Highly recommend them btw Mousetrap Backpackers
One of my first stops outside of Auckland was Pahia or the Bay of Islands.  I chose this specifically because Waitangi Day (their sort of independence/treaty day with the Maori people) was being celebrated at the Treaty Grounds there, and I wanted to see the full scoop.  Since I know you guys are interested in the dogs, I will keep the touristy stuff briefish.  New Zealand is a gorgeous, unique country, though, so I cannot resist posting a few shots here and there that are not specifically doggo.

Haka Dance
Ngatokimatawhaorua (largest of Maori wakas or war canoes) come ashore and they do the haka or war dance

Throughout the celebrations, the Kiwis' love for their fur babies is evident.  Family dogs trundled along next to their packs everywhere in the celebrations, included right along with everyone else.
High Sierra

sheep herding
Sheep operation in the Northern part of the island

Like the Beagle I met when I first arrived in the country, New Zealand is home to many working dogs.  One of the main features you will notice when traveling throughout New Zealand is all sheep.  Sheep sheep everywhere.  They say the sheep outnumber the humans 20 to 1.  To help the hoomans deal with this outnumbering, doggos come to the rescue.  New Zealand has two distinct herding breeds that often work with each other to accomplish difficult herding tasks that the terrain imposes.

New Zealand Dog
This is my terrible pic of one of the Huntaways at Blue Duck
From Wikipedia...still better photographers than I lol
The first breed is the Huntaway.  I had never seen one until staying for several days in Whakahoro (the Wh is pronounced as an 'f' sound in Maori so you figure that one out) at the Blue Duck Reserve Station.  Here is some more info on the remote working cattle and sheep ranch in the mountainous rain forest area along the Whanganui River.  My first thought was that the dog was a distant relative of the Rhodesian Ridgeback because these black-and-tan dogs are MASSIVE.  As with most dogs bred for working rather than show, there is a lot of variance in conformation based upon the needs of the shepherd, but a lot of these dogs weigh over 80 lbs as adults.  They also have humongous paws built for scrabbling up the harsh, mountainous terrain.  Probably the coolest aspect of the Huntaway is the breed's resounding bay.  In fact, they are bred for this very quality.  Huntaways herd cattle and stubborn sheep via sound- their rumbling volume is their tool for herding rather than drover dogs (who use eye sight) or heeler dogs (who use nipping).  After spending some time with these dogs and their handlers, I am seriously crushing on the breed.  Not only are they avid workers (as herding dogs have to be), but they are great family
dogs.  They are trustworthy and patient with kids, and gentle with babies (read my disclaimer though...if your baby gets eaten by a Huntaway in a freak situation, I am not liable).  They have soft floppy ears and soulful eyes too.  Be still my beating heart.

New Zealand Sheepdog
New Zealand Sheep Dog
The second breed I became acquainted with while at Blue Duck was the New Zealand Herding Dog, sometimes called the New Zealand Sheep Dog.  These are basically short-coated Border Collies (the short coats are easier to maintain in the thick underbrush).  Some tend to have longer legs to better deal with the long distances and tall, craggy boulders they have to wade through in the mountains.  They have all the same smarts and working capacity as the renowned Border Collie.  My very first dog was a Border Collie and I have never stopped being a fan of their intellect, problem solving skills. and independent working drive.


The coolest part is watching the Herding Dogs and Huntaways work in conjunction with each other on large herding operations. The more diminuitive, speedier drover dogs (the Sheep Dogs) work synergistically with their more intimidating, loud Huntaway partners to accomplish complex herding tasks.
New Zealand dogs
Image by Andrew Fladeboe
Often the shepherds themselves will have to ride four-wheelers or sturdy horses to traverse the landscape and to manage their herding dog teams.  Here is me with one of these lovely horses (or as I like to think of them as large non-dogs). For further info on Whakahoro and Blue Duck Station: Stray's Destination Guide for Whakahoro
WhakahoroBlue Duck Station
Blue Duck Station

Blue Duck Station
My lovely tour bus cooking a meal together in Whakahoro

One of the most rewarding experiences of my trip was having the privilege to spend the day at the New Zealand Police Dog Training Centre.  As many of you know, I am currently working on my dissertation for my PhD on police K-9s and the Centre training officer, in true kiwi fashion, welcomed me to come observe their K-9 officers for a day in Wellington.  The Training Centre itself is a marvel.  The pristine grounds, kennels, and training areas reflect the pride and dedication the Kiwi police officers have in their K-9 program.  As New Zealand is a smaller, island nation, they are able to run this one main facility as a coming-together point for their K-9 officers throughout the country.  Not only is the facility a focal point for training, but the rich heritage and history of their program is detailed throughout the grounds.
Part of the Police Dog Memorial

One of the neatest parts of the centre is the breeding program, which takes place on the grounds.  When the program started in 1956, dogs had to be imported from overseas.  However, now the Police Dog Training Centre has a fully fledged breeding program.  The puppies go to foster families (if you are interested in fostering or adopting a kiwi police dog puppy please contact your local police station) after they are old enough, and the ones that show promise will be selected for police dog training.  The other puppies are sold to happy families and the proceeds go back into the program.  I got to hold a wriggling, kissing piece of this self-sustaining program:
Police Dog Training Centre
OMG cute police doggy!!!
I also got to spend the day with a couple groups of Kiwi police officers there for training.  As I followed them around, watching them run through scent work, obedience, and apprehension, I was struck by the universal nature of police canine work.  Not only is the technical work similar to that which I have observed in the United States, but the courage, dedication, and culture is the same.  Kiwi K-9 officers have to be well versed in a variety of terrains and their canine counterparts must be hardy, because in New Zealand, the landscape changes quickly from rain forest to ocean beaches to alpine mountains.  As the officers joked and worked with their canine partners, I was reminded time and time again of the universal bond between officer and dog compatriot.
Getting ready to practice apprehension

Police Dog Training Centre
Cooling off time after a hard day's work

Police Dog Training Centre

It was truly an honor to spend the day with these officers and their dogs.  If you are a Kiwi criminal, watch out!  These guys are very good at catching bad guys.

Kiwis truly are the friendliest, most hospitable people you will ever have the pleasure of meeting.  And it is truly inspiring because they LOVE their pets.  I was lucky enough to stay with a lovely family in Wellington.  They did not have a dog but they had a lovely non-doggo.  He was the best:
kiwi cat
Montie the Kiwi Honorary Doggo
This was truly the trip of a lifetime and I made some life-long friends.  I cannot leave a post of New Zealand without some of my favorite stunning pics and encouraging you to try this great, big adventure on this amazing little island nation.
PetCareRx Logo - 230x80
Cathedral cove, Hahei

Whanganui River

New Zealand
Cape Reinga- you can see the seam between the
Tasman Sea and the Pacific Ocean

Waitomo glow worm caves
sand boarding
Sand boarding= a blast
Yoga in New Zealand
Yoga in Raglan
New Zealand water falls
Bridal Veil Falls
Tongariro Alpine Crossing

New Zealand attractions
Hobbiton- a must see!!

Cheers and Happy Travels,
Sammy the Dog Trainer


Post a Comment

Popular Posts