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The diaTribe blog is our occasional take on life, the universe and everything. Observations on current affairs, the environment, politics, humour and music/gig reviews. Travel diary and extreme sports stories, along with the usual rants/raves are also chucked in for good measure.

April 2009
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Rant:Tesco in the Doghouse

Tesco in the Doghouse

Being away from my normal patch (on the other side of the big pond) catching up with uncles, aunts and cousins in a long-overdue reunion has been terrific.

Over a fairly sunny weekend, we ate, drank and laughed together, catching up on the news and each others’ lives, in between a couple of games of Petanque (French Bowls) and a jam session or six with one of my cousins who is learning to play guitar (left handed) and who has made impressive progress in a very short time.

As always when you get more that a couple of McKenzie blokes in a room at once, the views and opinions we hold about politics, religion, the environment and current events get expressed in a fairly forthright manner and a lively discussion is always sure to follow. Surprisingly, it never gets nasty or personal; there’s never been an incident which ended in an outraged party storming out of the house or anyone inviting anyone else to step outside and settle any debate in a more physical manner. We are all grown up enough to understand that everyone is entitled to hold whatever opinions they like on whatever issue and as a result, the discussions and debates are often lively and interesting (albeit it a bit loud! wink)

But during our recent get-together, a story which ran in a number of local papers (and also picked up by a few UK broadsheets including the Telegraph) had us all shaking our heads in disbelief.

The article described how, during a recent visit by reps from Tesco to one of its largest suppliers in New Zealand, Silver Fern Farms in Fairton, the buyers were “upset” at seeing the dogs “running riot”, according to a spokesman for the supermarket colossus, who then added:-

“We don’t have a problem with sheep dogs, but we need to make sure they move the sheep in a considerate manner, so they don’t stress the sheep out,”


Firstly, how exactly do sheepdogs under the control of a good shepherd “run riot”? What were they doing…waving placards, throwing empty beer bottles at the abattoir walls and setting fire to the tractor? And secondly, how exactly can sheepdogs be trained to muster sheep in a more “considerate manner”? Perhaps the Tesco’s numpties can see a “glorious” future where sheepdogs, dressed in olive green tweeds (with leather patches at the elbows), smoking briar pipes and carrying clipboards can be trained to offer counselling to the sheep as they enter the killing pens.

“Crucifixion? Good. Out the door. Line on the left. One cross each.”

From the sounds of things, the reps that Tesco sent out to NZ have probably never seen working dogs before. Every country has its little quirks and one of Britain’s is to take an overly protective and softly-softly approach with both animals and children. While both need a certain degree of protection and support, the city and suburban-dwelling PC British middle classes (who have often only seen the country through the windows of their air-conditioned Chelsea tractors) have in recent times, developed a rather weird Beatrix Potter view of nature and rural life. The result is often as damaging as it is farcical and unrealistic. Want to see the evidence? Simply take a look at the fat, miserable, spoiled and lazy little members of many families up and down Britain (and the kids are even worse!)

New Zealand farmers treat their sheepdogs extremely well; not out of some misplaced sense of politically correct dogma, but out of practical necessity. An out-of-condition working dog is a liability, not an asset. Working dogs are therefore worked hard, but fed well and looked after properly.

The same is true of the sheep. They are grazed on rich fertile pasturelands, comparatively free of pesticides and fertilisers. They are also moved regularly by the working dogs which keeps them in good condition, fit and healthy. And when their time comes, unlike the British environment where sheep must be trucked live to a handful of abattoirs left in the UK (a process which in itself is likely to cause far more stress than a sheepdog ever could), many farms have small abattoirs close by or within a short mustering distance. This means that they arrive at the abattoir in conditions that the pea-brained humane-treatment hypocrites in Britain could never comprehend. The net result of this approach is what produces the finest lamb and mutton in the world.

Only the Muppets at Tesco don’t seem able to see it.

The problem is also compounded by the fact that Tesco is used to being the big boy on the block. The spoiled fat one with all the best toys who expects everyone else to play his games his way and who has a little temper tantrum if anyone else dares to question or contradict him.

My advice to Silver Fern Farms is to tell Tesco’s to get f**ked go (complicated pictogram) themselves. Then get the dogs to see their fat, ill-informed, sanctimonious asses off the property at high speed. Even in tougher economic times, there is no shortage of other markets for top-quality meat and wool and there are plenty of other buyers (starting with all Tesco’s rivals in the UK). It’s about bloody time the seller had a bit more of a say anyway…

Perhaps a little time in the doghouse will do them good!

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3 Comments for: Rant:Tesco in the Doghouse

  1. Visitor Comment # 1

    The people from Tesco have obviously been watching too much Babe

  2. Visitor Comment # 2

    Tesco’s are always trying to stick their oar in where it isn’t wanted or needed. Their buyers are all ponces in suits who wouldn’t know a decent days’ work if it landed on them.

  3. Visitor Comment # 3

    Not content with suppressing local businesses the world over, Tesco turn their talons on the dog population. I’m barely suprised. Thanks for the read!

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