A Little Bit Western


Every Dog Has its Day

Apr 1, 2014

We spend a lot of time handling cattle throughout the year. Calving, sorting, trailing, treating, moving, gathering, turning bulls out, bringing bulls in… not a day goes by that we aren’t doing something. Some days everything run smoothly and other days don’t always go as planned but no matter what we’re up to, we are almost always accompanied by one or two of our four-legged Border collie friends.

A good dog can save you many miles, a lot of time, and make working cattle a whole lot more enjoyable. They prove especially handy if, hypothetically speaking, a person left a gate open and a whole bunch of cows and baby calves toddled out said gate and wandered into one’s yard. By administering a few simple instructions from the comfort of my deck, the dogs can round the critters up and chase them back where they belong all without you even breaking a sweat. So far, the only downside that I can see about a good dog is that they can guard a gate but can’t close the darn thing after they put the cows back where they belong. But we’re working on that.

Our dogs are our companions but they are working dogs and take their jobs very seriously. The best way to reward them is…. give them more work, strange as it may sound. Border collies have a boundless enthusiasm, which when channeled appropriately, makes them workaholics. At the end of a long day, when people and horsepower might be running low, they have an ever-present energy, wag their tail and look with interest to the next potential job.

Their affinity for bringing bits of dead unidentifiable varmints (sourced from goodness-knows-where?) and chunks of manure up to the house do not make them the most desirable of house guests. Our dogs are also pretty good at chewing up balls, Frisbees and whatever other super special kids’ toys then can get their grubby paws onto.

They say one year of a dog’s life is equivalent to seven years of a human’s life but I figure when the dog in question is a cattle dog, the formula might need to be adjusted. Cow dogs hang out in the back of a pickup or in a tractor cab, and log a lot of long miles in the pasture trotting behind a horse and rider. They nip at the heels of bovines when asked, dodge a kick (or two) to the head, and sometimes get in the wrong place at the wrong time when a truck or trailer drives away. A dog missing some teeth, an eye, or even part of a limb is sometimes more common than not in the cow dog subculture.

Between the kind look in their loyal eyes, their solid work ethic and the familiar thump of a wagging tail, we can all learn a few lessons from our four-legged friends. Every day is a little bit better when you spend some time with a good dog.

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