What’s his name?
Chris: His name is Bertie, he’s a black Lab and he’s five years old.
How long have you had him?
Since he was a tiny baby puppy. He comes from the Adelaide Hills actually because a friend of mine who I went to agricultural college in South Australia with actually owns Bertie’s father. He knew I was between dogs and he rang and said, ‘‘I’ve got one of the puppies, do you want one?’’ So he was actually flown over as a tiny puppy in his tiny cage, that was his first flight, he’s been on a few!
Where else has he been?
Tasmania because I have family in Launceston, so he’s been to Christmas there a few times, with his cousins.
What does he do around the winery?
Where do we start? He’s a mascot because not only is he in the winery but he also comes into the lectures in the classroom, so he comes to the vineyard, harvesting, and there’ll be me, trailing along with Bertie in the background. He’s just a class mascot, it’s not as though he rounds up the grapes! He just follows me around everywhere.
Is he trained?
I’ve trained him, he’s a scent dog. He’s also being trained as part of a project we’re working on which is about detecting a wine fault called brettanomyces, it’s in red wine. We can smell it and taste it and it’s unpleasant. What we’re trying to do is to see if a dog can detect it below the human threshold and detect it in the wine and the barrels. We’ve been working with Bertie on it for about a year.
What’s his personality like?
He’s so gentle. He’s gregarious — he loves people and loves a party. He just loves being out and doing things, he really loves work and when he’s doing the scent work he loves it. He really enjoys being active and likes to be doing something all the time.
Do you have any funny stories about Bertie?
He has had a chequered history, being a Labrador, around eating things — socks. He’s actually had an operation to remove one. He’s eaten at least half a dozen and all but one has gone through ... it was pretty nasty. Once, it wasn’t Bertie that did this — but because he’s a black Lab — once we were coming back from being on the plane to Tasmania at Christmas time, and I was standing out the front of the airport with Bertie. I had my bag and dark glasses on and the bus pulled up and they thought he was a guide dog!
What other commands does Bertie know?
Bacon? No, no. He knows ‘drop’, ‘sit’ and ‘go to bed’. His trick is really just entertaining people.
Where does he sleep?
He’s got his bed, he sleeps in the house. He tries to get on the bed, he comes into the bedroom every morning at 5.30am and he’s told to go away and then he comes back at 6am and then we go ‘‘okay, time to go for a walk’’.
Does he have any favourite foods?
Bacon would be his favourite food, followed by chicken, followed by ... anything!
What would you do without him?
I don’t know, I don’t even want to think about it. I’d miss him.
■Do you have a dog or dogs you would like to nominate for Man’s Best Friend? Phone Rodney Woods on 5820 3259 or email him at rodney.woods@ countrynews.com.au