A recent incident, with our house dog and a local coyote reminded me of this summer story.
We’re a household of cowdogs. Border collie, Kelpie, heelers all were bred for the specific task of herding livestock. At one time or another we have had one of each or combinations of each breed to assist us on the ranch. Our dogs are varying parts pet and hired man. A well-trained animal can save a cowboy miles by eliminating the need for man and horse to pound through punishing, brushy creek bottoms.
When living up to their purpose a stock dog assumes a very business-like attitude. In the last year, we’ve added a less business like canine to this mix. Tank is a Boston Terrier, known primarily for their absurd love of balls, squashed profiles, and flatulence.
He has been happily adopted by the rest of the household, kids and cow dogs alike. Despite their years of selective breeding, innate toughness, and significantly longer legs, Tank is convinced that he and the stock dogs are long-lost siblings. The odds of a successful cowdog career are clearly stacked against him.
However, this was not enough to dissuade him from pursuing me on a horseback expedition this past summer. My touchy little horse was rather fresh and I lacked the sufficient courage to step-off and properly send Tank home. I incorrectly assumed that he might become distracted by the prodigious and noisy killdeer in the horse pasture, but he was not.
I spent my morning contemplating convenient locations to tie him up, before his Boston Terrier legs failed him. Thus, I would know exactly where to find him later in the day. My concern was unwarranted, I grossly underestimated Tank’s desire to be a contributing member of the household.
I failed to find the stray cattle I was after in their last known location and had to broaden my search. Several long miles later, I located the missing cow-calf pairs. Due to Tank and his cowdog companion’s exuberant “help,” a great deal of hustle was required to bend the cattle in the right direction.
When both cattle and dogs slowed down, I managed to affect a bit of handle on both. I told the dogs to, “Get behind.” and “Down.” Which they gladly did, because their exuberance was not well-received by the winded and immensely protective mother cows.
Twenty miles later, my partners and I ended our work day. I don’t know if Tank is planning on pursuing a cowdog career, but he certainly pursued a really, long nap.