Wide variety of jobs good material for barman's yarns

Mackenzie Collie Dog Club barman Phil Green's tale is one of sheep, dogs and the back country. Photo by Ruth Grundy
Mackenzie Collie Dog Club barman Phil Green's tale is one of sheep, dogs and the back country. Photo by Ruth Grundy

You can always rely on the barman for a good yarn.

In this case, Mackenzie Collie Dog Club barman Phil Green's tale is one of sheep, dogs and the back country.

That is not to say the 85-year-old has not had a life jam-packed full of variety.

''I've had a glorious life here,'' he said, settling in for a session.

In 1955, as a young man, he emigrated from Lincolnshire, in the United Kingdom, to New Zealand, and from that point on seemed to fall ''by accident'' into each of his jobs in turn.

He has been shepherd, musterer, drover, long-distance truck driver and tourist bus operator and he retired only last year from collecting and processing slink skins.

One such chance occasion landed him a job tending bar in Fairlie.

Volunteering as Mackenzie Collie Dog Club barman seemed inevitableBetween four wheels and two legs, there are not too many parts of New Zealand Mr Green has not seen.

He moved to Fairlie and the Mackenzie Country in 1958 and from the early 1960s spent about 12 years droving ''till I wore my knees out''.

With teams of pack horses and dogs, the men would drive sheep from Omakau and Rocklands in Central Otago to Fairlie
''There's lots of things you see. You can only travel as fast as the slowest animal.

''The first day, you go no more than five miles.

''When you get them [the sheep] educated ... they graze, walk two hours, graze and walk some more''You can end up doing 20 miles a day.''

The busy life meant he did not meet his wife Alice, who was a cook at the Fairlie Hospital, until he was 42. Family life followed.

Mr Green has been a member of the Mackenzie Club since about 1960 and is now a life member.

He was senior vice-president of the club in 1969 when he was asked to step up to the president's role, early, on the death of D. M. France.

Mr Green no longer campaigns dogs but still keeps a heading bitch - Simba.

His best dog, Cloud, won the straight hunt and a place for them on the club's honours boards in 1969.

He had always had dogs and came off a farm.

In England, the advent of World War 2 forced him to leave school at 11 to work on the farm because ''all the fit, young men'' had been drafted and women and children had to pick up the work.

Nowadays, there were ''a lot of good young ones about'' in the district keen to learn dog trialling, he said.

While there were different ways to train dogs, it was important to spend the time, train the dogs properly, and ''treat 'em right''.

It did take time.

''You can't rely on them until they are about two years old.''

It was important to remember they were animals, not human beings, and were not always predictable.

''You can have a helluva good dog at home, once they get here [to a trial] they've got to learn as much about it as you have,'' Mr Green said.