Nip the dog

Nip the dog

The Martin family lived in Chittering, about 50 miles North of Perth, Western Australia, in a mud-brick and iron roofed house on a farm that had been in the family for more than 100 years.

There was Dad(Joe), Mum (Stella) and the children - Ruth, Ray, Keith, Margaret and later on, Joycelyn. They had a black kelpie sheepdog called Nip, who was quick and intelligent. He never nipped the sheep, but would sometimes nip the heels of the cows if they didn't get a move on.

One hot summer's day, early in 1945, a bush fire started up between Bullsbrook and Muchea. The sea breeze was blowing and the fire was soon more than five miles wide. Army and air force personnel, with their machinery, turned out to help the firefighters. The fire swept through the Chittering Valley to the Julimar Forest, and almost to Toodyay before a heavy thunderstorm helped bring it under control.

On this day, Dad had ridden one of our riding horses to the Grays' place in Bindoon, about eight miles away, to go grape picking, leaving Mum and the children at home. The family saw the fire rapidly approaching and knew what to do; get the cows and the work horses into the barn, which had thick mud-brick walls and an iron roof.

While they were doing this, they saw Nip - without a word from any of them - take off across the flat in front of the house towards a flock of about 200 sheep that were grazing in the paddock about 500 yards away. Nip rounded up the sheep by himself and drove them back towards the barn to the sheep pens, where the family was waiting to close the gate on them when they were all inside.

Meanwhile, Mum had put a bridle on our other riding horse, Pansy, who could also be put in the sulky, to lead her, the children and NIp to the orchard paddock for safety. The orchard paddock and around the house and barn were clear (always kept clear) and it was felt the orchard was safer that the house.

Mum put a cloth over he horse's head and held her. They all had wet cloths over their faces. They remained in the orchard till the fire had passed, enduring thick smoke and watching the fire burn.

The fire swept right through the farm, and fences and feed went but no animals or buildings were lost - thanks to Nip!


True story by Ray Martin of Australia.



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Ray Martin
True Story?: