Meet Jak, the border terrier/ fox terrier cross… now thirteen years old, and still looking pretty sprightly despite one missing leg. He’s given the Department of Conservation almost 90 of his years as its chief rodent dog. But now he’s had to retire, not just because of his absent leg, but he is also getting a bit deaf and short sighted. At his farewell party, a couple of months ago, Jak was hailed as a hero by his peers. Now he has a new life at Waihi beach.
“I was told he’s a little dog with a big heart. And so he is.”
- Jak’s former handler, trainer and life-long mate Fin Buchanan.
The retiree's gold card. (photo courtesy DOC)
Jak loves gelato.
One chilly day David Steemson visited Waihi Beach in the company of Jak’s former DOC trainer, handler and mate Fin Buchanan to see how he’s getting on living with local vet Philippa Jones, her son Cam, and the two Labradors Goldie and Freedom.
Left: Jak and his Labrador mates. Right: Philippa, Jak and Fin.
Much to Fin’s delighted disgust Jak turns up dressed in a fur lined jacket, more Liberace than ratter! However both dog and former master are delighted to see each other. The little fellow is clearly much loved by his humans. After all he’s an amiable bloke. Grey and wire haired, he looks at you intently with beady dark eyes… seems like there’s a good deal of thinking going on behind them. Today, Jak is in possession of his favourite chew toy of the moment, one in the likeness of PM John Key.
Jak's favourite chew toy.
As a young pup Jak was specially trained by Fin to sniff out rodents, and during his long career with DOC, he’s been taken to many of the department’s predator-free sanctuaries to ensure there are no rats or mice left there. Furthest south he’s been is to Campbell Island in the sub Antarctic, but his most notable triumph was finding and killing one renegade rat on Auckland’s Motuihe Island. Jak’s left front leg was removed after he was attacked by another dog.
From his on-line CV;
“Waihi beach is an ideal location which will allow me to scout the beach for attractive bitches, there’s health care on tap… and I can hang out at the Waihi Beach Hotel , which incidentally has excellent cuisine and music for both human and dog.”
Jak's going away card picturing his first mission. (photo courtesy DOC)
Fin Buchanan writes in the card.
‘Jak, me boy, me mate, the staunchest work colleague a man could ask for. You’ve taken me to some amazing places, and we’ve done some pretty neat things together. It is with an incredibly heavy heart that I have to let you go. I know you will enjoy the sun, the pretty bitches, and all else that Waihi beach has to offer. Go well Jak the Ratter. Lots of love from your workmate, Fin.’