Posted 7/13/11 (Wed)
You’ve met Vern Baker before. Vern Baker is our dog. The dog I picked up at the animal rescue place in Baker, Mont. He was nearly free. Well, $100.00. Not including the tip. And the tip should have been to pick another dog.
Vern is an Australian Shepard. With bloodlines going back to world champion cattle dogs. Trust me, you do not find world champion dogs in the pound at Baker. He was supposed to be five years old. Maybe, maybe not. He is a big dog.
Vern Baker is a hard worker. He does love to chase cattle. He is kind of like Gerald’s hired man down in Harding County. “If he’s not in the wrong place, he’s running like hell to get there!” He will show flashes of brilliance. I should say he shows an occasional flash of brilliance. You can send him a half-mile to gather cattle on a ridge or in the brush. And he will attack any stragglers with a vengeance. But as soon as he sees the gate you are taking the cattle to, he quickly gets to the front of them and sits down in the gate! Always.
And he has another bad habit. If you are loading cattle in the horse trailer, he gets under the trailer and bites their front feet as the cattle are contemplating jumping into the trailer. This is rather upsetting to the cattle and to the people attempting to push the cattle into the trailer. Oh, don’t tell me about discipline. I’ve tried throwing rocks and sticks. I’ve sworn until I am hoarse. I’ve tried whippings, and believe me, waterboarding. It didn’t work any better for me than it did for the CIA.
Vern Baker tore off all the drapes in the house when he got left at home one day. $2,000.00 . He ripped the liner out of Will’s pickup ceiling when we left him in the pickup while we loaded cattle in the trailer. Another $1,500.00. He got picked up and locked in the Dickinson pound. $200.00. But he is awfully kind to my grandkids. He doesn’t snap at them when they ride him or pull his ears. If he had a tail, he would wag it when they come into the yard. He doesn’t track mud all over the house. Just his end of it.
And every day when RJ, who just turned three, comes into the house, he pauses by this big black dog lying in the entryway and says, “Is this Vern Baker?” Like we would have another big black Australian Shepard lying in the entryway.
And then two days ago, Martin, our hotshot driver dropped off his dog for a couple of hours. A little white Chihuahua. I mean real little. Like a pound of butter, only not quite so heavy. RJ came through the door, looked at that little bitty piece of dog meat, and asked Grandma, “Is that Vern Baker?” Then he gave her the cutest smile you ever saw on a boy’s face.