A WORKING dog which gets pampered like a poodle? It's true.
Excavator driver Bill Noonan and his other half, Natalie Wright, have four dogs between them: Scarlett the two-year-old kelpie-border collie cross, and Natalie's three poodles: Rocco, Ruby and Paris.
Scarlett is a pretty decent working dog, Bill says, especially given she is a companion dog first. However, Natalie says, for a working dog, Scarlett gets pretty spoiled.
"She sleeps on the end of the bed or on the floor. The poodles sleep outside the room," Natalie said.
What's more, Bill doesn't deny it.
Scarlett came into Bill's service by a rather unconventional route, through the RSPCA.
Bill usually acquires his pups off the farm or from a breeder but took a punt on Scarlett after looking over Natalie's shoulder while she was surfing the internet.
"After his last dog died, Bill was looking for another working dog for a companion," Natalie said. "He didn't want a poodle. I don't know why.
"He wasn't thinking about rescue dogs but when I was scrolling through some rescue dog pages he took a look. There was a chocolate kelpie but he said he wanted a girl.
We scrolled on to the next one, which was his sister, and he said he could go for her. So he picked himself up a pound puppy."
Bill trained Scarlett from when she was eight weeks old and she has proven quite versatile too, perhaps combining traits of her kelpie and border collie heritage.
"She is good as a paddock dog and a yard dog. I would say, for a companion dog, she is a very good sheep dog," Bill said.
"She only works sheep, though. She started on cattle but got a boot from a steer in New South Wales and has been a bit shy of them since."
Natalie, meanwhile has her own dog styling business - Hair off the Dog in Wendouree - and her poodles have won several grooming competitions. But that does not mean Scarlett misses out.
"She even thinks she's a poodle sometimes," Natalie said.
* The Courier is always looking out for fantastic working farm dogs, great and small. If you know of a dog who deserves its day email: email@example.com