A good cowboy should have three things; a good horse, a good dog and ————————. I left the last one blank so you could fill in your own. Some might choose a good woman, others a good banker, a job in town, a silver bit, a full can of Copenhagen or Saturday off.

Now every fall, when I go out to work the cows, the neighbors all show up to help. They come drivin’ up in a big 4-wheel-drive pickup, a deer guard on the front, mud and snow all around, a couple of spare tires tied to the stockracks and a handy-man jack wired in the back rattlin’ like a beer can in a 50-gallon drum. In the back of every one of them pickups is at least one good dog. And two pups.

Now them dogs leap out and commence to fight with one another for two hours. You spend the rest of the day kickin’ ’em out from under yer feet or chasin’ ’em outta the gate. But you can’t say nothin’. Oh, no! That’s a sacred thing. You can’t criticize another man’s dog.

Now everybody’s got a dog story. Claude had spent all mornin’ gettin’ a bull off the mountain and was easin’ him down toward a trap in the meadow. Tom came drivin’ up and got out to open the corral gate.

Ring leaped out of Tom’s pickup and proceeded to put the bull back up the mountain. Ring come trottin’ back, lolling his tongue, a satisfied look on his face. You could almost hear him sayin’, “Aren’t you proud of me, dad!” But one look at Claude’s face and you could hear Ring thinkin’, “Uh, oh!”


Claude took Ring by the collar and proceeded to re-enact the Olympic hammer throw event.

All over cow country, these dingos, curs, hounds, kelpies, blue heelers and border collies go by similar names: Banjo, Badger, Penny, Bingo, Blue, Dally or Dog, but under stress most of ’em git called the same thing. It’s a term of endearment that refers to their maternal lineage.

There’s probably a heaven for cow dogs where they can sit out on the edge of a cloud and look down at the earth. If atmospheric conditions are just right they could cock an ear an’ hear some ol’ cowboy yellin’, “Go git in the pickup, you pot licker!” PD