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Sage advice clears up the Siamese cat mystery

The mystery behind last Thursday's quaint Gang-Gang column photograph of a couple at the National Sheep Dog Trial Championships of 1964 with a ute full of sheepdogs and a Siamese cat on a leash has been quickly solved.

The picture was supplied by the National Archives of Australia, which knew precious little about it save that it was taken in Canberra in 1964.

Now, thanks to the encyclopaedic memory of reader Peter Welch, the archives will be able to add an information-crammed caption to the picture in in its online catalogue.

Mr Welch informs us he has attended every National Sheep Dog Trial Championship since 1945, has been a competitor at them since 1977, and is a past president of the National Sheepdog Trial Association.

''I can tell you,'' he informed Gang-Gang, ''that the people in the photograph were Mr and Mrs Eddie Sage from a rural property near Numurkah in northern Victoria … they were photographed at the newly opened Canberra Showground off Northbourne Oval during the National Sheep dog Trial Championships in 1964. Eddie Sage was a leading sheep dog trial competitor from the late '50s till the early '80s. He won the national championships in Canberra in 1968 with his dog Herdsman's Kenny and competed in front of the Queen with that dog when she visited the championships in 1970 and at the conclusion of the events, presented the trophies.''

Quite why the Sages brought their Siamese cat with them (and it must have been the odd juxtaposition of cat and dogs that must have caught the photographer's eye) is not clear.

''But you can be sure,'' Mr Welch said, ''that the cat travelled in the cab with the Sages while the dogs were all in the back, and you can be sure that the cat was the wife's because for Eddie, all his animals had to be functional.''

Yes, for those of us who have owned Siamese cats (Mr Welch has and so has this columnist), their only function, albeit an important one, is to be elegant works of art on legs.

Next year's NSDTA championships, at the Hall Showground from March 12 to 17, will be the event's 70th anniversary. The event will be, whether or not the dogs (or cats) know or care, a part of the local centenary celebrations.