Moscow: A farm dog has given new meaning to being man’s best friend - by ploughing his owner’s potato field on his hind legs. Lemon the Giant Schnauzer’s talents were spotted by his owner, a former military dog trainer in Russia’s Omsk region, when he was just ten months old. Since then 48-year-old Aleksandr Matytsin has taught his pet to deliver logs, pump water from a tap, carry buckets of water and collect harvested crops. Mr Matytsin insisted Lemon was perfectly happy to lend a paw and hardly ever demanded payment. He has been using Lemon as an unusual farm hand for more than a year and the pet has now become a minor celebrity in his home village of Tara. It began, he said, when he was chopping firewood and his pet began delivering logs to his feet.  He started training Lemon to carry buckets of water and then moved on to more unusual tricks.–DM

The idea of a canine farm hand is not completely alien, since Giant Schnauzers - which stand at around 2ft tall when fully-grown - were used hundreds of years ago as working dogs.

The breed was developed in Germany in the 17th Century and the animals are known for their powerful bodies and thick coats, which protect them from the elements.

Despite Lemon receiving the occasional treat, Mr Matytsin said helping out was usually enough of a reward.

‘We noticed how willing he was to help when he was only ten months old,’ he said.

‘He picked up a log and brought it to me when I was chopping fire wood, then it was a bucket when I went for water.

‘His favourite occupation is carrying buckets of water. Of course it is a big help to us - after a few trips he manages to bring an extra 25 litres.

‘I do treat him with something tasty from time to time but he mostly does it because he simply likes to be helpful.

‘He likes to try and do almost everything I do. I think if he had hands he would do everything for me.

‘Unfortunately, his abilities are a little bit limited but we love his eagerness nonetheless.’