Turning the key in the ignition, I started driving my ute down the dusty road.
In the passenger seat, my farming assistant, Archie, stared out the window curiously.
"You ready to start work?" I asked him.
He wagged his tail excitedly in response.
Archie was a miniature dachshund who loved nothing more than being out on the land with me.
As a farmhand working at the property owned by my partner Angus's parents, I often took Archie out on jobs.
I used to keep him on a leash while the sheepdogs got down to business.
But when he was three months old, I was out mustering sheep with Angus when Archie strained at the leash, desperate to be let free."Okay," I chuckled. "Have a turn."
When I unclipped the leash, he ran out through the field. Watching the other sheepdogs closely, he copied them, sprinting by and rounding up the herd.
"Good job," I said, patting him in encouragement when he was done.
Those months of watching the other dogs had shown Archie all he needed to know.
The small pup was barely tall enough to reach the knees of the sheep, but they weren't dismissive of him.
When Archie gave his orders, they did exactly as they were told.
Now nine months old, Archie is by far my best sheepdog.
What he lacks in size he makes up for with enthusiasm and hard work.
But the job does take its toll.
At the end of the day, his little legs are exhausted because they have to work twice as hard as the other, larger dogs.
As a treat, I let him come inside and curl up on the couch to sleep.
Instead of counting sheep, I know he dreams of chasing them. And that's just one of the reasons I love him.