A Dog's Life - Natel Ruby

Issue 6, December 2016 | Article by Wayne Flintham | Photos Provided by Paul Wroe

There is no mistaking that Paul Wroe is definitely a dog man, he lives and breathes working dogs, he has been trialling for 13 years but has owned dogs since he left school. Paul explains “It was the end of the beef slump and there were two commands, ‘Get On’ and ‘Get Off’. That’s just what we had back then. It was mainly a mix of bull terrier or blue/red cattle dogs.” In 1980 Paul went to clean up some properties with Noel Dickfoss (a great dog man in Paul’s eyes). Noel’s dogs were all Border Collies. “Sheep Dogs” as most of his mates referenced them. After seeing the way Noel’s dogs were working and the handle he had on them he was sold, then and there.

As cattle management has improved, paddocks fenced up and more people more often than not working alone, the working dogs are continually evolving.

Paul manages the livestock enterprise for Michael and June Hood – Redcliffe Pastoral Company. Redcliffe comprises of 28000 acres and 3500 head of cattle.

Together with his wife Judy (who has her own team of dogs) they also have three of their own places that they run cattle on. Natel at Middlemount 2500 acres, Yandoon at Capella 3000 acres, South Karema is 5000 acres along with some lease country at Comet comprising of around 1000 head. 

Dogs are a big part of Pauls life and he couldn’t imagine going to muster a paddock without them. One dog that has played a huge role in Pauls life on the trial ground is Natel Ruby.

Arguably, the most decorated trialling bitch in Australia. Ruby has won the Australian Open Dog of the Year, Queensland Open Dog of the Year five times, Queensland Novice Dog of the year and to date a blistering 27 Open trial wins to her name.

Ruby was born on the 28th of December 2004. She is out of a dog bred by Rob and his son Paul Oats - Borilla Creek Blade (dec). Blade was out of an imported dog Glen. Ruby’s mother, Judd’s Nancy was bred by Richard Judd at Baralaba. Paul always puts a lot of emphasis on the bitches side within his breeding program and Judd’s Nancy has been the best bitch Paul has owned for trialling and paddock work to date.

Ruby and her full brother Natel Archie (owned by Steve Biles) competed in their first trial at 8 months of age at Baralaba, QLD. Neither dogs placed but both had a good show for very young dogs. Natel Archie has gone on winning many trials including the Australian Championships and a Maiden, Novice and Open trial all in the same weekend at Fanning River.

Natel King is also another full brother to Ruby and at 10 months old he sold for $4000 at the Emerald AgGrow dog sale. King has also gone on to produce some exceptional offspring. Another sibling to Ruby is sister Natel Tippy who has had great success in trialling over the years and along with Natel Archie they are an integral part of Natel Working Dogs future breeding plans.

Unfortunately and most frustratingly old Ruby has never bred on. Paul explains “She would come into season but never get in pup”. Paul is actually in the process of artificially inseminating Ruby’s half sister Natel Tippy to collected semen from Borilla Creek Blade. (Blade has been dead for quite some years) Paul will be retaining all of these pups to try and secure some old bloodlines.

When Ruby was around 4-5 months of age she displayed a fair bit of heel, however she worked it out that the more heeling she did the more trouble she got into. She soon dropped that and started to rate her stock. This improved immensely in a short period of time. Paul believes Ruby’s strongest trait is her ability to rate cattle. “She gives cattle good distance and that’s why she has won so many trials” Paul explains. This is sometimes what lacks in a lot of other dogs.

She never wastes energy and is always in the right spot. Ruby is a great old bitch to travel around with and also very good around camp. She has always been consistent, “but she is getting old and buggered like me now” Paul reckons. 

As for Ruby’s working career, “she was never a really good traveller” Paul admits. When she was young she was always that intense on stock, she was mentally fatigued on cattle. Right from an early stage she was winning open trials and Paul didn’t want to lose her or have something go badly wrong so he looked after her a lot when she was younger. She missed out on the normal big days in the paddock but shined on the weekends trialling around the country. As a nearly 12 year old bitch now and not getting any younger Paul admits its going to be a sad day when he heads to a trial and has to leave her behind. Paul reminisces about the time Ruby went walkabout.

“I could talk of the amount of times she has really dug in deep to pull out a good run with sometimes average cattle, but another story not so much about trialling springs to mind. One day Judy ran my dogs whilst I was at Steven Biles, last Christmas, Ruby lagging behind stayed out on the main road and was picked up by someone. For a week we all looked under every rock, gully and in the back of any utes. My family went above and beyond the call of duty organising radio adverts, posters, Facebook posts etc. Then we had a call at about 8 o’clock one night, a lady thought she had seen her at a football field at Tieri, 40km away. We drove around Tieri till midnight with no sign of her. Ruby has had an operation were they cut the ball joint off her hip therefore she can’t travel very well. However, at half past five the next morning Judy found her at the saddle shed. Ruby was that foot sore that she couldn’t even stand up. When I saw her I fell to my knees and cried. Thanks will always go to my family for all of their help bringing Ruby home.”

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