Every Dog has its Day: Beau and Bart, the odd couple

Beau and Bartholomew James, with veteran shearer Trevor Kearns. Picture: JEREMY BANNISTER
Beau and Bartholomew James, with veteran shearer Trevor Kearns. Picture: JEREMY BANNISTER

A few weeks ago The Courier met shearer Trevor Kearns, who had shorn his one millionth sheep.

We weren't surprised to hear Mr Kearns has a couple of dogs, as a lot of shearers do. One of them is a border collie, quite naturally enough given the breed's affinity with sheep.

However we were a little bemused to find out just how proficient Beau the eight-year-old border collie is as a sheep dog. That is to say, not at all.

"He doesn't have a clue," Mr Kearns admits. "With the sheep he is bloody hopeless but that's because he has never been trained. My son took him to a shed once but he just stood in the wrong place and stared at the sheep.

"I reckon if he was trained he would have been bloody good. He is the smartest dog I've had. If you show him something three or four times he could do it. He's too old to train for sheep now. I wouldn't do it now."

Beau and Bart keep shearer Trevor Kearns amused. Video: JEREMY BANNISTER

Beau has his talents, even if managing stock isn't one of them.

He can balance biscuits on his nose or paws before eating them, and he is a demon at catching a tennis ball. He is relentless when it comes to "fetch" and, if Mr Kearns is mowing the lawn will deliberately drop the ball directly in the path of the mower, forcing Trevor to toss it for him.

You would be hard pressed to find a more obedient dog, however.

"You can put Beau in the back of the ute and say 'stay' and he won't move. He will stay in there all day if he was told to," Mr Kearns says.

Beau originally belonged to Trevor Kearns' son Corey. But Corey's travelling for work meant a temporary stay with Mr Kearns in Dereel. That temporary stay has proven to be not so temporary.

"Corey got him as a pup in Queensland," Mr Kearns explains. "Then he went to Perth but he couldn't keep a dog in the place he was living so Corey asked me if I'd look after him for a couple of months. That was seven years ago.

"But Beau has never forgotten him. Whenever Corey comes back Beau's always happy to see him."

Beau has another remarkable virtue: nearly unlimited tolerance. And he needs it because of Mr Kearns' other dog, a pugnacious fox terrier named Bartholomew James.

Bart, who turns four in October, is desperate to remind Beau who's boss.

"He's got a case of 'small man syndrome'," Mr Kearns says. "He's at Beau all the time. Every so often Beau will snap back."

It's Bartholomew James who mainly gets to travel with Mr Kearns in the ute. His size is advantage but so is his inability to accept "no" as an answer.

"He decides whether he wants to go or not," Mr Kearns says.

"Bart has actually locked me out of the ute on a few occasions and he's unlocked it on the odd occasion too.

"It's happened to me three times at least so I've learned my lesson. I keep a spare set of keys on me now any time he comes with me."