Saturday 23 April 2011

Markets in Everything: Things that make Kiwis laugh at Americans edition

If it weren't for New Zealand's ridiculously onerous quarantine restrictions on dogs, we'd be well set as a luxury vacation destination for bored American border collies with rich owners. This piece from the WSJ is now a few months old, but I'd missed it between Christmas and New Year's.
Herding experts—yes, there is such a thing—say it's increasingly common for people who get border collies as pets to wind up renting or buying sheep just to keep their dogs busy. "It's something that's snowballing all the time," says Jack Knox, a Scottish-born shepherd who travels the U.S. giving herding clinics.

Each day, an average of 18 dogs visit Fido's Farm outside Olympia, Wash., their owners paying $15 per dog to practice on the farm's 200-head flock of sheep. Herding revenue at the farm is up 60% over the past five years, says owner Chris Soderstrom, who bought the farm in 2004.

"We get many people sent down here from the dog park in Seattle," says Ms. Soderstrom, 63 years old. "They need to get their dog a job."


Border collies appear willing to herd until they drop. In fact, they never appear to grow bored of organizing sheep. If they do, for an extra $5 dogs at Fido's Farm can also herd ducks.
It's as though Tom Sawyer went pro in the "Take a Turn at Whitewashing" business:
Tom gave up the brush with reluctance in his face, but alacrity in his heart. And while the late steamer Big Missouri worked and sweated in the sun, the retired artist sat on a barrel in the shade close by, dangled his legs, munched his apple, and planned the slaughter of more innocents. There was no lack of material; boys happened along every little while; they came to jeer, but remained to whitewash. By the time Ben was fagged out, Tom had traded the next chance to Billy Fisher for a kite, in good repair; and when he played out, Johnny Miller bought in for a dead rat and a string to swing it with – and so on, and so on, hour after hour. And when the middle of the afternoon came, from being a poor poverty-stricken boy in the morning, Tom was literally rolling in wealth. He had besides the things before mentioned, twelve marbles,part of a jews-harp, a piece of blue bottle-glass to look through, a spool cannon, a key that wouldn’t unlock anything, a fragment of chalk, a glass stopper of a decanter, a tin soldier, a couple of tadpoles, six fire-crackers, a kitten with only one eye, a brass door-knob, a dog-collar – but no dog – the handle of a knife, four pieces of orange-peel, and a dilapidated old window sash.

He had had a nice, good, idle time all the while – plenty of company – and the fence had three coats of whitewash on it! If he hadn’t run out of whitewash he would have bankrupted every boy in the village.
If only Tom's clients could have paid in things exchangeable for more whitewash.

HT: Isegoria


  1. Rediculously onerous? I think it would be rather a bad day for NZ if rabies found its way in...

  2. Yes, rabies is bad.

    When was the last time that a dog, vaccinated against rabies in the States, actually came down with rabies? Do folks really need to keep their dogs in quarantine for a freaking month to prove they're clear?

  3. It has happened - even if the vaccinations were not in the states:

    But if we do away with the Q period, don't we have to rely on foreign vacc records, and honesty of owners/vets in other countries? This may not be a wise strategy...

    ps We imported two dogs from the US last year and the onerous part is the cost of kenneling NOT the 30 days, or the cost of transit

  4. Kiwis laugh at Americans for merely having sheep in a few places instead of everywhere?

    I laughed myself when I first heard of this service, but now that I read here that the price is merely $15, I laugh less. There are so many stupider more expensive things that people do with pets, $15 for something that many of the dogs truly enjoy seems relatively sensible.

    Now if they could only come up with a suitable peckpad interface and social software to allow a gray parrot to entertain itself on the web so that I can get one and not feel bad about leaving it bored and unfulfilled inside almost all the time...