Farmer Dave: How dogs helped me come out

Farmer Dave: How dogs helped me come out
Image: David Graham, aka Farmer Dave

THERE are very simple reasons as to why farmer David Graham’s life has evolves around dogs.

“They have been there since day one for me,” he says.

“As the youngest of 11 kids growing up in the Outback, they were my mates when I was left out of all the older kids’ adventures, they were my counsellors when I’d come home shattered from the trials of boarding school or dealing with having to shoot thousands of starving sheep during drought.

“They are my teachers, my mates, my entertainers, my confidants and most importantly on a cold night — especially out on a stock camp in winter — my swagwarmers.”

Graham grabbed headlines in 2006 when he came out as gay during season six of Big Brother. Since then, he has become a prominent advocate for dogs, and is an ambassador for the Animal Welfare League, Australian Working Dog Rescue and Working Breed Rehab.

He believes growing up and living with dogs throughout his life also helped him on his journey to coming out.

“I internalised my feelings as is the culture for farmers sons, but it seemed like it was okay to cry with my dog, and the good part of that is that they would always make you realise life was worth living as they have such an amazing ability to show love and affection,” he said.

David Graham with one of his dogs
David Graham with one of his dogs

Graham also says the “list is endless” when it came to the other benefits that came with owning a dog.

“In all seriousness there are numerous studies that show a massive reduction in stress and anxiety by owning a dog as well as a great ice breaker to meeting other humans,” he says.

“Hell, who doesn’t take the opportunity to say g’day to a dog?”

A proud father of Matilda (a Border Collie), Jess (a black and tan Kelpie), Sydney (an Australian Koolie), Pablo (a German Spitz Klein), Tom (a working Mareema) and Alice (a pure Dingo) – all of whom are rescue dogs – Graham naturally knows a lot of good tips for responsible pet ownership.

Especially when his life is now dedicated to dogs’ betterment in society and through his business, the Farmer Dave Dog Centre (The Farmer Dave Dog Centre is an adventure land for dogs, with sheep herding, to scent detection and dockdogs to day care and reactive dog rehabilitation. Details:

“I will do anything and everything I can to allow people to improve their knowledge of dogs, their behaviour their training and their needs,” he says.

However, Graham says the most important tip he could give for responsible dog ownership tip was socialisation and training.

“Build your bond with your dog based on respect and trust,” Graham says.

“In essence just as you build any relationship, respect a dog as an equal partner in life not something to ever punish or neglect.”

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