Newtown's newest ranger - Max the dog

Last spring, our rangers in the West Wight took on a new team member to help them look after the species-rich, wildflower meadows of Newtown. However, this one was a little hairier than the rest, had four legs and a keen sense of smell. Max, the Border collie dog has an important role to play in our conservation work. His owner Kingsley, our Assistant West Wight Ranger, tells us all about him.

Q: How did you come across Max?

A: I collected Max from a local breeder in the heart of the Island on the 14th of March last year (2017). I had been looking for a working sheep dog but wasn’t sure what breed to go for, then a friend of mine told me about this litter, so I went to see them, and as Max was the one with the biggest character and sense of mischief, he was the one for me.

Max and Kingsley
Max the dog lying in the grass having his tummy rubbed by Kingsley, his owner.

Q: What made you decide to get Max?

A: I thought I'd get Max as I’m the youngest in the team, and therefore, the one that has to do all the running! 

Q: How are you training him at the moment and over the next year?

A: I train Max for an hour before work, and then again on the way home. It’s not just a case of me teaching him as I’ve never trained a working dog before, so I’ve been receiving instruction from a well respected local shepherd. He’s been a dream first dog as he’s so steady with the sheep, quick to learn and very good with people.

Max waiting for instructions to round up the sheep
Max the dog sitting down watching a herd of sheep in a field at Newtown

Q: How does Max help with the conservation work at Newtown?

A: Max has revolutionised the working of our conservation grazing flock of Hebridean sheep. He has made the process of moving, checking and rounding up for shearing, and general health checks, much more efficient, and incredibly has been working from seven months old. He's also brilliant at engaging with the public - as he's such a friendly boy people are always stopping to say hello or watch him in action. I haven’t quite got him recruiting members yet!

Max, our newest ranger
Max the dog in the fields at Newtown

Q: What is Max's favourite job?

A: Max is a Border collie, one of the most intelligent and energetic breeds of dog, and as such needs constant stimulation, so he is at his happiest working the sheep at every opportunity. He is with me all day, every day, and is a very happy and contented member of the West Wight Ranger team.

Max and Kingsley in the meadows at Newtown
Max the dog and his owner Kingsley sitting in the meadows at Newtown