A trophy-winning sheepdog has had an unusual lead-up to a major championship, going missing for three days before she was due to represent her country.
The Supreme Australian Sheepdog Championship was held in Northam, about 100 kilometres east of Perth, last week.
The competition brought in more than 200 sheepdogs and trainers from all over Australia and New Zealand.
But Scooter the sheepdog had a less than desirable lead-up to the event.
Scooter, a black and white border collie, went missing from her farm in St Arnaud, Victoria, just a week before she was due to fly to Western Australia to compete for the nation in the Trans-Tasman Test against New Zealand.
Her trainer, David Hines, said although it was not the first time Scooter had run off, she had never stayed out so long.
"She just sneaks off looking for fun, looking for sheep," Mr Hines said.
"And I know to keep my eye on her, but I wasn't staying at the farm long.
"I let them out for a wee and picked up the two things I wanted, called the dogs to take them for a run up the road — and one missing!
"I must have only been four or five minutes from when she left.
"But running through the long grass she wouldn't hear the whistle, and I'm the whistle maker of the nation, so I wore out about three trying to find her."
Even with the entire district on the lookout, Scooter stayed away for three days before returning home.
"The district [people] were amazing. They all came out and did the fence lines, looked up roads, and they drove," Mr Hines said.
"They put it on the pages of the fire brigade so all the district knew, and then it went to pages of districts, and they even got it onto the ABC to spread the word that Scooter is lost.
"She's not just a dog, she's representing Australia, so we had to find her."
Scooter the survivor
Running off for three days is not the only challenge Scooter has had to overcome.
When she was a puppy, Mr Hines saved her from drowning in a large storm that hit the farm.
"When the pups were only a week old, a thunderstorm was coming … the storm opened up and after about 20 minutes there was water everywhere, and [I thought] I'd better go and check those pups," he said.
"I had rubber boots on, and when I got in the old shed … all the water had run in and the water was over my rubber boots where the pups were.
"The mother had lifted some up on the ledges, and I'm one [puppy] short, and I just saw a wriggle of water and a little nose sticking out.
"There were six pups and we took them in and washed them to warm them up, and [took] a hair dryer to dry them.
"And three years later the two of them were first and second in a novice [sheepdog competition], and two were first and second in the improver."
Mr Hines and Scooter have been a successful team, taking home a Captain Payne and a Beatson and Beatson trophy in Victoria.
He said with Scooter being nine she would sign off soon, but he hoped to have a few more years competing before then.
"I keep feeling my pulse and it's pumping along well, so I'm hoping to get a few more in a couple more years," he said.
"I usually sell them when they're eight or nine to a good home, but I think she might have to stay."
Despite the best efforts of Scooter and Mr Hines, the New Zealand team took out the Trans-Tasman Test for the third time running.