WHEN it comes to working dog rescues, Nicko hit the jackpot.
Things looked grim for the black and tan kelpie cross, who was found wandering the bush in outback New South Wales.
Fortunately for Nicko, Australian Working Dog Rescue Inc (AWDRI) liberated him from a pound and put him in the care of Ballan foster carer Jess Joy. He then found his way to the Nash family in Ballarat in April 2012 and now lives a life of luxury.
After adopting a cat (Indi) through the RSPCA, Vicki Nash says the family wanted to adopt a rescue dog. Fortunately for all concerned, it proved to be love at first sight.
"He was advertised on Pet Rescue by AWDRI. We didn't mind if it was a kelpie, we just didn't want a little dog," Ms Nash explains.
"I can remember the photo of him. The look on his face was really sad. He was sitting on an outdoor chair and looked very calm but looked like he needed a loving home.
"We got in touch with Jess. She brought him over and we loved him straight away, although he wasn't real calm then. He was acting a bit mental."
When he landed at the Nash house, Nicko was called "Nick" by the AWDRI people.
That name didn't quite fit with the bouncy, energetic kelpie cross, however.
"I can remember the photo of him. The look on his face was really sad."
"'Nick' seemed a bit too formal. So we just added the 'o' at the end," Ms Nash said.
"We're mad Richmond supporters, so we wanted to call him 'Tiger', but Nick was already his name. I couldn't change it because he was already Nick in his own mind, so it become Nicko."
It seems likely Nicko was abandoned because he had not made the grade as a working dog, an all too common occurrence.
While he lives his life as a pet now Vicki says you can see traces of his bloodline in his behaviour.
"We go on the Rail Trail and there are paddocks which back onto it," Ms Nash explains. "There are cattle and sheep there and he goes up to the fence. He shows an interest, for sure. But he never goes in.
"We live on Dyson Drive and when the farmer who has property near us is working with sheep and cattle with his kelpies, Nicko watches with interest but that's about it."
Nicko lives with Ms Nash and husband Gavin, their four children Ollie (15), Ned (13), Scarlett (11) and Clementine (six), and Indi.
A large, active family has clearly been a good fit for him.
"He is a very good inside dog, and is happy to sit and do nothing. but he is also very fit. When I ride my bike he will go 20km with me. He loves it," Ms Nash says.
"He loves balls and, if anyone goes outside, he wants to play outside.
"I have to say he is big sook in terms of having to sleep indoors. He has four kids who encourage him to be a sook."