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The best dog for the job

Melbourne Water is thrilled to give a glowing report card to Raasay, its friendly four-legged employee.

The clever border collie has an important role to play as an expert in sniffing out wild weeds as part of Melbourne Water’s Waterways and Catchment Operations Team.

The pesky weed in question is Sporobolus anglicus, an invasive grass that grows in tidal estuaries collecting sediment, choking creeks and destroying natural mudflat habitat. The weed is difficult for humans to detect because it looks similar to some native species and grows in difficult to reach tidal mudflats.

Just like any Melbourne Water staff member, Raasay sat down with her manager Adrian Vinnell for her 2022 Performance Review after completing three jobs in September.

Raasay in a canoe
Raasay in action!

2022 Performance Review

Name: Raasay  

Length of employment: 18 months.  

Remuneration - Treats, games and pats.

Job description – Utilises specially trained senses to locate the weed Sporobolus anglicus to help eliminate it from the Westernport Catchment.

Highlights – Assists Melbourne Water in locating weed growth that may have otherwise been missed by aerial or human inspections.

Challenges – Works in extremely difficult conditions among muddy swamp lands. (Also, personal hygiene and fur shedding).

Personal development – Handler Tracy Lyten from Skylos Ecology has provided ongoing training, with regular exposure to samples of Sporobolus anglicus to hone Raasay’s senses. Raasay has also learnt to travel safely in a canoe and is now able to detect the weed while on the water, pointing to it with her nose. This increases the ground crew’s capacity to cover a larger area and target a greater number of weeds.

Employee comments – *Wags tail.

Manager comments – Raasay is an asset to Melbourne Water. She is intelligent, enthusiastic, efficient and well liked. She regularly goes above and beyond the requirements of her role and particularly enhancing safety for her colleagues who do not need to venture as close to the waterways while scouring for weeds as a result of her prowess in the conditions.

Melbourne Water manages all parts of the water cycle; from providing clean drinking water, to treating sewage, managing flooding and keeping all 25,000km of Melbourne’s rivers, creeks and catchments healthy. The health of our waterways and land is essential to our native wildlife, and to our way of life today, tomorrow and for generations to come.

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