Our friends with tails

Host: Farrcombe Contracting
Written by Raine Pugh – Owner, Farrcombe Contracting.

Life in the outback is filled with furry friends, they bring us joy, laughter, happiness, and sometimes heartbreak. At the start of this season some of the boys from our crew and I travelled down to Newcastle Waters Station to collect our plant horses for the year. They are spelled at Newcastle Waters during the wet season and therefore we don’t often get to check up on them. The day before we arrived, my young gelding (whom I had bred and broken in myself) was found lame out in the paddock. When I saw him I couldn’t believe my eyes. He had lost significant amounts of weight, had muscle wastage of the hind end, and was severely lame in the rear near side fetlock. As I have such a sentimental attachment to my horses, I immediately broke down in tears to see my horse like this. I arranged to have him sent to a vet in town (I could not take him as we were due to start our first job of the season).

After his diagnosis I was told that he had a broken navicular bone and there was not much we could do except put him down. I did not take well to this news and decided that I would like a second opinion. Due to the lack of equine specialists located throughout the top end, I made several phone calls to vets in Queensland, Victoria, New South Wales, and Western Australia. After speaking with several experts and discussing my options it was decided that we would try a rehabilitation process involving some specially designed boots. With the help of some friends who live in Katherine and my parents (as I was still away out at camp), the long process to recovery began.

Currently, my precious horse known as Villian has regained a healthy weight, glossy coat, is no longer lame at the walk, and now only occasionally at the trot. We are only half way through the rehabilitation process and things are looking forwards. We still do not know for sure if he will completely heal but I could not put him down without trying everything first. It has been an amazing and emotional journey where I have learnt heaps but keeping my fingers crossed that Villian’s recovery will be a complete success.

2.1 copyVillian on the day he was found lame in the paddock.

2.2 copyVillian three months into his Rehabilitation.

As much as I have an attachment to horses, Potter remains very fond of his dogs. Early this year, we bred his best working bitch with one of our harder biting dogs. We were very excited awaiting the arrival of this litter, believing that we had just bred the ideal working dog for our team. We were very excited when Miley delivered her first ever litter of six puppies. She had given birth to two bitches and four dogs, one of which was a yellow kelpie. So that Miley could deliver and raise her pups in the best environment she was to stay with my parents until the pups were old enough to travel. Potter and I had arranged to pick the pups up, when the night before we were to collect them disaster struck! In the middle of the night mum could hear Miley barking outside and had sent dad out to investigate. Through the darkness, dad crawled on his hands and knees through the mud (garden sprinklers were on) into the kennel where he realised a Python was devouring our puppies! Dad threw Miley and the puppies away from the snake and caught the python in his bare hands, by now he had realised that the snake had killed two of the puppies. He took the snake inside to mum and asked what he should do with it. My family are very fond of pythons and always relocate the snake to a new environment, however due to mum being attacked by a water python in her bed only two weeks earlier she was mortified to know that another water python had now killed two of her precious puppies.

Potter and I were relieved to finally have the puppies in our possession, however disaster then struck again. On our first day with our new crew for the season, Potter was running the dogs and letting the puppies wander and explore around camp, at this stage they were about six weeks old. Unfortunately, as one of our blokes drove back to camp they did not see the puppies playing and ran over one. The poor puppy died within a couple of minutes and we were down to three! You can imagine by this stage we were very cautious and protective of our remaining puppies. We decided that we wanted to keep all three for our team of dogs and still have them all. They are still too young to work but are very playful and we have high hopes for them, we have named them Funk, DJ, and Nifty and are very excited for their future as working dogs.

2.3 copyMiley with Pups after the snake incident.

2.4 copyPotter and the pups having a bit of playtime.

This year Potter and I spent a couple of weeks caretaking at Dungowan Station. Mick and Jana (the managers) are also just as crazy about their furry friends. Whilst they were away, Potter and I were responsible for the pet chooks, dogs, poddies, horses, and donkey. The poddies who live around the house each with their own name and personality were always entertaining, especially one afternoon when ‘Fred’ decided to assist me with making the corn beef brine.

2.5 copyFred Inspecting the Brine.

The pet donkey foal was always up to mischief. He would dip his nose in the paint as I was painting the stables and would chase me around the yard on the ride-on lawnmower.

2.6 copyDonkey Helping me Paint.

Certainly cannot imagine life without our friends with tails.