Proud to win events late father and dogs had won

Levi McCall at home on his Waikoikoi farm with his team of dogs. PHOTO: BECKY MCCALL
Levi McCall at home on his Waikoikoi farm with his team of dogs. PHOTO: BECKY MCCALL
Maitland Sheep Dog Trial Club president Levi McCall has not always been a farmer.

After growing up on a farm at Waikoikoi in West Otago, he left to study finance and economics at the University of Otago and went on to work in business, as a sharebroker and financial analyst.

Business was something he had always enjoyed but, when he was younger, he acknowledges he probably did not understand the business side of farming.

"All I could see was some of the work you had to do and didn’t really like," he quipped.

The catalyst for changing direction in his career came when his father, Stephen, died in 2010 and it made him "sit up and look at yourself".

He returned to West Otago and worked around the district before he decided to go farming on his own.

He now farmed the 200ha property he grew up on with his wife, Becky, running sheep and dairy support.

It was the "management stuff" on farm that he had to learn, and was still learning every day — and it was that aspect that he particularly enjoyed.

"I’m probably a bit disappointed I didn’t learn that earlier. That’s what’s given me a real kick, getting out of bed in the morning and trying to do the best I can do," he said.

Mr McCall has become involved in dog trialling in the past three or four years.

On Wednesday and Thursday, he will campaign two dogs, Jane and Sky, in the Tux New Zealand yarding challenge and the Southland transtasman challenge which will be held at the Roy family’s property, Glen Islay Station, near Mandeville.

Mr McCall is also helping out at the South Island yarding challenge semifinal which is being held in West Otago at the weekend.

Mr McCall, who has five dogs on the farm, grew up in a dog trialling family. Both his father and grandfather always had a lot of dogs and, when he was young, there was always a pup around.

Embarking on his own farming career, he discovered he really enjoyed working with dogs, particularly the progression and development of young dogs, seeing them learning new commands and "start embedding it in".

He put time into training young dogs but, once they were up and going, he admitted he did not do as much as he should.

While he had both heading dogs and huntaways, he was "definitely a heading man". He preferred working with heading dogs on his property as he did not need much noise.

There was a "wonderful" atmosphere at the Maitland club and he enjoyed the regular get-togethers. Its strength was the social aspect and it was a great way to get a network in a rural community. New members were always welcome and, whenever a young person moved into the district, they were encouraged to join.

Asked what his best trialling achievement had been, Mr McCall laughed.

"Nothing great to be honest, nothing great at all," he said.

But he did acknowledge it was "pretty cool" to win the novice class in the Tux yarding at South Canterbury this year and also place third in the same event.

His late father’s dog-trialling trophies were still in his house and it was "pretty special" to win several trophies at this year’s Maitland club trials that had previously been won by his father.


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