Scott saved by the howl

Laurence Rau is still counting his lucky stars after his prize dog-trial dog Scott   was found...
Laurence Rau is still counting his lucky stars after his prize dog-trial dog Scott was found stuck in the forks of a tree three days after the animal fell over a cliff at Easter and was presumed dead. Scott has recovered enough to run in the New Zealand dog trials on Alpha Burn station at Wanaka this week. Photo by Stephen Jaquiery.
Winning is not always everything - sometimes just getting to the start line is a miracle in itself.

Take Scott the heading dog, who came within a whisker of death when Good Friday turned bad this year.

The 9-year-old dog survived three nights stuck in the fork of a tree overhanging a bluff, before being rescued by his very relieved owner, Laurence Rau.

Scott might still be very stiff in his shoulders but he has made it to the South Island and New Zealand sheep dog trial championships at Alpha Burn Station, near Wanaka, this week.

Mr Rau (64) was shifting stock on his property at Matawai, an hour from Gisborne.

He sent Scott to get around the other side to catch the mob and the dog headed through the bush, thinking there was a short-cut.

It appeared Scott "slammed on the anchors" when he saw the bluff and his front legs went into the fork of a small tree, trapping him.

When Scott failed to appear, a concerned Mr Rau headed home and got help, searching for hours in pouring rain. About 200mm fell in 24 hours.

The next day, a group of seven searched for most of the day and, after more searches on the Sunday, Mr Rau was convinced the dog was dead.

On Easter Monday, he was in the adjacent paddock, below the big hill.

Scott's half-sister Sleek began howling and looking up at the hill. Mr Rau stopped, Sleek continued to howl - and he heard Scott howling from his tree prison.

He called for assistance from his son and farm worker and the three, armed with ropes, lifted him off the fork of the tree.

"He just lay there," Mr Rau recalled.

After a while, they carried him down the hill. He had a drink and they took him home.

Scott would not eat but they made him comfortable and he slept for 14 or 15 hours, before standing up "to have a feed".

"A week later I had him back out getting fit again."

While Scott was "not 100%" - "I don't think he ever will be" - he was lucky to be alive, Mr Rau said.

"I said to my wife, he'll never go back to that paddock again and I use other dogs. He's retired from that paddock."

Mr Rau, who is also running Scott's brother Moss at this year's event, planned to retire Scott after the championships.

He has a friend with a lifestyle block who has said he would give the dog a good home.

"He's only going to be 20 miles down the road. He'll come home if it doesn't work."


TUX South Island and New Zealand Championship Dog Trials after day two.

Long head. - Roger Sellars, Tahatika, Steel; Tom Manson, Mohaka, Glen; Roger Tweed, Waitahuna, Vic; Eric Stringer, Kyeburn, Matt; Geoff Allison, Mackenzie, Nell; Ross Millar, Little River, Shade; Scott McRae, Molesworth, Elle.

Short head and yard. - Eion Herbert, Tapawera, Storm; Clark Crystall, Waikoau, Boyd; Boyd Tisdall, Strath Taieri, Jackie; Kevin Sadler, Waimate, Trix; Scott Wedd, Patoka, Jazz; Lloyd Smith, Waihemo, Happy; Dick Roy, Gore, Rei.

Zigzag hunt. - Mark Porter, Waingaro, Moss; Russell Peek, Waihemo, Task; Graham Dickson, Egmont, Pound; Todd Heynes, Alfredton, Rua; Lloyd Duffy, Egmont, Pearl; Steve Kerr, Mackenzie, Dodge; Trevor Gibson, Awatere, Rusty.

Straight hunt. - Steve Kerr, Mackenzie, Bully; Dave Vaughan, Taieri, Earl; Roger Tweed, Waitahuna, Gemma; Robin McKenzie, Warepa, Ned; Aaron Bell, Waitaki, Molly; Graeme Dickie, Tuapeka West, Don; Rick Orr, Waikari, Hoss.

Add a Comment

Our journalists are your neighbours

We are the South's eyes and ears in crucial council meetings, at court hearings, on the sidelines of sporting events and on the frontline of breaking news.

As our region faces uncharted waters in the wake of a global pandemic, Otago Daily Times continues to bring you local stories that matter.

We employ local journalists and photographers to tell your stories, as other outlets cut local coverage in favour of stories told out of Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch.

You can help us continue to bring you local news you can trust by becoming a supporter.

Become a Supporter