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Tuesday, March 28, 2017

A Good Cow Dog Is Hard To Find

Posted Tuesday, July 26, 2011, at 12:26 AM

A good cow dog is hard to find. Many ranchers are on the look-out for an exceptional dog, especially if his own dog is starting to age.

Snip came to work on the Allen Ranch in 1972. He was a mixed breed of Australian Shepherd and possibly some Dingo.

About 8 or 9 years ago, Dad decided that Stubby, his present cow dog was getting on in years and picked out a dog that he named Parvo.

I think that poor Parvo was jinxed from the very beginning. He is a very friendly dog, but totally useless with cows. But every time that Dad would think about getting rid of him, he would rally and show some initiative in trying to work the cows.

Cow Dogs are not pets. They are expected to earn their keep on the ranch. But life on the ranch is not all work and no play. Cow dogs have been known to enjoy a breezy ride in a pick-up truck or a cooling swim in the ditch.

Ranchers select their dogs by word of mouth; breeding or by sheer chance. They may pay a few hundred dollars for a choice breed or simply select a pup from a neighbor dog's litter.

The time has come in our own lives to take a page from ranching wisdom. A pedigreed dog does not automatically mean that you are getting the very best in the market. You may have paid several hundred dollars for a piece of paper that will mean absolutely nothing, if you cannot get your dog to do the job that he was chosen to do.

It is always a gamble to bet on one type of dog to get the job done. Every rancher has a different opinion as to what type of dog works best. If you happen to get a dog that is clearly not up for the job, it is time to find another home that is better suited for their temperament.

Snip was one of the most reliable dogs on the planet. He didn't have anything special about his looks or breeding. He just wanted to work.

Parvo keeps his body firmly planted in front of you as you try to walk outside. Very little progress can be made when you have to stop and push the weight of a friendly dog aside in order to walk down the driveway.

Although a border collie like Parvo has a reputation for being a great cow dog; in Parvo's case, a few wires got crossed and he is more decorative than he is useful.

A certain amount of respect must be exercised when we discuss what type of ranch dog works best with cows. We love our own dogs, but your neighbor might think that his choice of dog works much better on a cattle drive.

The wolves are at our door demanding the sacrifice of our precious herds. Will your choice of cow dog keep them at bay? Or, will they cower on the porch afraid of their own shadow? Are you able to depend on the cow dog of your choice to get the cows through the gate, or do they only bark excitedly and get very little else done?

Do we want a dog like Parvo, who is more decorative than useful? Can we afford to keep him when all he does is eat but does very little to earn his keep on the ranch?

A good cow dog is hard to find. In the past, we have had the luxury of choosing a dog who might be up for the rigors of ranch life. But a storm is coming and the sky is growing darker. We must get our cows back into the safety of the pasture before the rain comes.

Our vanity will always choose the dog that fits our preconceived notions of what breed works best for our ranch. But the time for vanity has passed by also.

A Good Cow Dog must do his job with very little instruction. A few words issued here and there by his Master is all that he needs to get the job done. You cannot send a barking dog to into a herd of cows that has already scattered into 20 directions.

We need a dog who can swiftly size up the situation and employ all of his herding skills to get the cows back into the pasture. We also need to hone our own skills of picking the right dog for the right job.

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Well spoken and understood. Thank you.

-- Posted by royincaldwell on Tue, Jul 26, 2011, at 5:28 AM

Well HewBet:

I didn't designate Parvo to any one person. We have a lot of decorative people who don't get much work done. He is merely an example. But if you want to interpret it that way, go right ahead.

Nor did I delegate Snip to any particular party. It is a comment about life in general and current events.

I am glad that you enjoyed the blog.

-- Posted by KH Gal on Tue, Jul 26, 2011, at 10:01 AM

Thank you, there is plenty going on in this world today to comment on.

What isn't being said and should be is that our own houses need to be in order before we can restore order to our country.

Personal responsibility has taken a backseat to many selfish pursuits. And this has occured on all levels.

I try to keep my analogies vague enough so that everyone gets something out of it without feeling attacked or offended.

There is a message that I am supposed to bring and hopefully, it is coming through and making people think about their lives in a completely different way.

My husband David loves Parvo. And Dad was fond of him too. Fun, but useless.

-- Posted by KH Gal on Tue, Jul 26, 2011, at 11:30 AM

We used to call that a button eye. And yes, we could learn a few things from a cow dog or two.

-- Posted by KH Gal on Tue, Jul 26, 2011, at 7:42 PM

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Walking the Fence Line
Bonnie Bird
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Fixing fence is the one of the hardest jobs on a ranch. I no longer live on a ranch, but I do know what hard work is. Fences are everyone's concern, but nowadays,the "hole" is always your neighbor's side not your own. It used to be that you would respect your neighbor and mend the fence together. If their cows got in your field, a simple phone call resolved the problem. You might even saddle up your own horse and help them gather them up. We need more people who are willing to roll their sleeves up and fix the fence regardless of who your neighbor is. There are people in this country who need to be reminded that a fence is like the way you should conduct your life. Your posts should be straight and neat. The wire needs to be stretched tight and your gate might be closed, but can still be easily opened. And most of all, we can all saddle up together and ride the range, it won't matter if you have an Appaloosa, Quarter Horse or Thoroughbred. The cows still have to be gathered, fences have to be fixed, and the range is a wide open space of opportunity for us all.
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