Loyal helper always on the job

01:43, Jan 31 2009
Working class dog: Andrew Smith discusses lunch with his constant companion.

IF THERE was a union for dogs, staffy cross Ming and her boss Andrew Smith would get a good barking to.

Since she was a pup Ming has gone to work with Mr Smith, a structural stone mason, every week. In human terms that's 90 years and she's had only two days off in that time. A raging hangover after consuming fermented apples caused her first sickie, and eating snail bait caused the second.

For the past eight months Ming has been at St Marys overseeing Mr Smith's handiwork in the restoration of the church tower.

The duo travel from Christchurch to Timaru each week, staying at a local camping ground until the week's end.

During her 15 years Ming has seen lots of building and restoration jobs, including the Christchurch Cathedral, art gallery and museum.

She is also familiar with quarry and rock blasting work, although the latter has left her a little hard of hearing.


Ming has been popular with workmates and members of the public and is often seen sitting guard at building sites all over the country.

Mr Smith says she's been a faithful dog and is now showing her age. She is almost blind and has a large cyst on one side.

Mr Smith knocked up Ming's first on-site kennel recently and she now spends a lot time in it on her new sheepskin rug.

She used to have a lot more energy, Mr Smith says, recalling an incident in which Ming wandered on to a neighbouring property and tried digging under a rabbit cage.

"I heard someone yelling, I looked over the fence and was confronted by a woman wearing only a towel screaming at the dog. I think she had rushed from the shower.

Ming knows when it's time to knock off and waits patiently at the bottom of the scaffolding.

Mr Smith says there's no chance of Ming retiring any time soon.

South Canterbury