Boof, a six year-old Kelpie, started the final week outside the top three, but by Sunday he had stolen the title of Cobber Champion.
Living on the cusp of Lake Murdeduke in Winchelsea, Boof is one of 12 working dogs around the nation that competed in the 2018 Cobber Challenge.
The three-week competition saw two dogs from each state wear GPS collars to track their daily work and score points.
Boof trailed in his first two weeks, before clocking up the mileage in a final dash that put him neck-and-neck with runner-up Jess from NSW.
The competition’s dark horse ran an average of 51 kilometres a day in the final week, the equivalent of seven consecutive marathons, and seized a narrow victory on the last day of the competition.
During the challenge, Boof ran over 630km at 10.62km/h, even astounding owner Henry Lawrence.
“I found out that Boof covers a lot more ground than I thought he would. One morning when we were shifting a mob he covered around 40km, and then another time he clocked almost 70km for the day, so he really surprised me,” Mr Lawrence said.
“Boof’s a pretty great dog, he can work a mob of sheep through a mob of cattle or vice versa, or go round them both if I want, he just seems to know what I’m after so it’s pretty special.”
He said he wasn’t optimistic Boof would take out the title given the first couple of weeks of the challenge coincided with their quietest time on the farm.
“Then everything picked up and we were calving and moving them back, and lamb marking, so it turned out okay,” he said.
And there’s no rest ahead for Boof, who’s taking up a different challenge – fatherhood.
“We’re flat out into lamb marking now and Boof’s daughter is coming on so it’s time to put some more time into her,” he said.
“He’s my best lamb marking dog so he’ll be showing her the ropes.”
By the end of the competition, 12 dogs had run over 3600km.
Competition organiser Marika O’Leary said the great thing about this year was how close it was.
“We never knew who was going to win it, even until the last day,” Ms O’Leary said.
“Even though we’re in the third year of the challenge, I’m still astounded by how much these dogs put in.”
Seven year-old Kelpie Jess from Copmanhurst, NSW, narrowly lost out on first place.
Jess’ owner Glenda Rogan said the drought definitely impacted her average speed.
“The cattle are not as strong so we make sure we’re taking them very quietly,” Ms Rogan said.
“I’m extremely proud of Jess, she always does her best for me.”