March 2007
Featured Articles

Adventures of a Retired Cow Dog

By Don Linker

 
Howdy, I’m Booger, a retired blue heeler. I used to chase cattle; now all they well let me chase is tennis balls. Retirement stinks!  
Howdy, my name is Booger and I am a 3-year-old, male blue heeler that used to be a cow dog. Yeah, I’m retired now and not very happy about it. Heelers are born to chase things that move and move things that don’t in a specific direction. We heelers, as a rule, are very loyal, intelligent, fast and helpful when it comes to moving cattle.

I was born on the same farm as Thunder, the zebra, and purchased by my owner’s wife as a Valentine’s present for her husband, who we’ll call Pistol Pete. Unfortunately, he named me Booger, but he loves me and took me with him every place until I was old enough to begin my training.

I’m sure there are a lot of training methods, but Pistol’s was unique– we’ll call it the Point and Holler Method. It’s a good thing I was so smart and could read between the lines or we would not have gotten very far. I was trained to lay down, sit, stay, come and, the one that I live for, sic ’em.

We began my training on cattle in a pen, with me moving them from one pen to another larger pen. This was so easy, the cattle moved when we got behind them. It was so much fun and I became very full of myself. Little did I know that there were bigger pens and much more ornery cattle.

Now Pistol did as little as he could on foot, he would much rather work from a horse. Well, this was a new experience for me and you know the horse moved and wasn’t much different from a cow, so when he moved off (and remember, we love moving things) I heeled him. It seemed like a good idea at the time; however, after Pistol got the horse (his name is Crow Bait, Crow for short) under control, I realized this was not the thing to do. The Point and Holler Training method kicked in and Pistol Pete got his point across.

What a life, treated like royalty, loved, pampered, then it happened. Early one fall morning, Pistol mounted Crow and we moved off (I knew better than to heel the horse this time). We were going to move cattle from the west pasture to the north forty. Everything was great until we got the cattle in front of us and they headed off toward the gate.

I was not prepared for what happened next, cattle had always moved when I ran at them, but not this time. A particularly obstinate black heifer with horns decided she didn’t want to leave the west pasture. I ran at the heifer but she just looked bored and stared at me. Well, I circled, barked and met the heel as I was running in to get a nip. The kick caught me on the side of the head and sent me rolling.

As I was recovering from the kick, I was unnerved by what I caught out of the corner of my eye. The black heifer was bearing down on me — didn’t she know that I was doing the chasing, not being chased? She must have missed that rule in the rule book because she was coming and she was coming fast! All I could think about was getting away. As I shook my head to stop my ears from ringing, I began running in big circles looking for something to hide behind. Despair was setting in when I saw safety in the form of Crow Bait and Pistol, so I headed in their direction with the mad black heifer hot on my heels.

Now Crow didn’t see himself as a safe haven as I slid to a stop underneath him; the heifer didn’t stop and narrowly missed the horse on her way by. She just blew by and turned for another try. Crow, by this time, had realized that he had an unwanted guest underneath him as well as an angry bawling bovine bearing down on him again. Crow started with some jumping and high stepping, but I was not about to lose my safety, which escalated into full blown bucking. Pistol was hollering and grabbing anything he could to keep from being unseated, all the while calling me and the horse some mighty uncomplimentary names.

During all this the heifer lost interest, declared herself the winner and followed the rest of the cattle down the road to the north pasture. Pistol finally got Crow under control and we closed the gate to the north pasture. I learned a valuable lesson, don’t assume something will happen the way you want it to just because that’s the way you want it.

Retirement stinks, I am reduced to laying around the yard and chasing tennis balls and sometimes a Frisbee. Don’t get to ride in the truck much any more, except to go to Marion County Co-op where Pistol gets SportMix Dog Food for me and 12% Champions Choice for Crow Bait. Steve Lann, the manager, is very helpful when it comes to the needs of customers from Marion, Lamar and neighboring communities. So take it from me, shop the Co-op for all your pet supplies, horse feed, gardening needs, Hustler lawn mowers, tires or anything you might need for your yard or farm.

This is a true story, however, a name was changed to protect the embarrassed.

Don Linker is an outside salesman for AFC.