Every now and then, a special animal comes into your world at just the right time and has a huge impact on your life. Recently, our family dog – named Ruger – died of old age.

Schmitz audrey
Editor / Progressive Dairy

He wasn’t just a pet; he was family. He was my shadow, my protector and snuggle buddy. And he was a best friend to my daughter Stella. There are so many things he did that drove me crazy, but there isn’t a single one I wouldn’t put up with just to have him back again. He could stink up a room like nobody’s business and snored like an old man, but he was playful, loving and just downright goofy. God sure broke the mold when he made our brown boxer dog. And not a day will go by that he won’t be missed dearly and thought of fondly.

Losing him has made me think back lately more on some of my favorite animals. I have had my fair share of cats and kittens, cows, dogs and even a few deer and lambs growing up. Peanut was my favorite dog when I was a child, and my first cow was named Quality. Some animals leave paw prints on our hearts, and some leave hoofprints.

Quality was my very first 4-H calf. While I was learning to halter break her, she taught me patience and resilience when she ran circles around me and all I could do was hang on to the knot tied at the end of her rope halter for dear life. She also taught me responsibility, sportsmanship and good herdsmanship. She was there in some of the formative years of my life and helped shape me into the woman I am today.

Some cows come into the world who are meant to change your life. You experience highs and lows with them from standing at the bottom of a show class to the top. You experience triumph and defeat from watching them bring new life into the world and eventually having to let them go. Your farm may never be the same without them, but their presence will always be felt or seen through their offspring.


When you care for another being day in and day out, you most certainly form a bond with them. You are invested and genuinely care about their well-being and health. As farmers, we have a multitude of resources available to us. We need to make a conscious effort to utilize them to help us, our animals and our farms (Producer Blog: Utilizing resources available to help your and your dairy). Building a relationship with your veterinarian can really be an asset to your business. Not only will they be there for you for monthly herd checks and emergencies, but they can also be a great resource to bounce ideas off of for your programs on your farm. Not all cases, obviously, can be saved, but they do have the newest technology and resources and experience working on these cases to try and yield the best outcome for all.

“Look after your sheep and cattle as carefully as you can...”
Proverbs 27:23.