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Posted 2/17/15 (Tue)


I have a new pup. I picked him up from a neighbor. The pup, only a few months old had worn out his welcome on the neighbor’s ranch. My dog, Vern Baker, may be getting old. If I carried a gun, he would not have to worry about aging, because if he’s not in the wrong place, he is running to beat hell to get there. But, alas, he is good with the kids, and waits patiently in the pickup for me if I get in a pinochle game. So I keep him around.
Puppies are a nuisance. He chews up shoes, chases saddle horses, pees on the floor, and knocks our youngest grandson down. I had forgotten how patient one has to be to train a dog. Then I got to reminiscing about one of our old dogs.
His name was Ardly. That is short for Canardly. Canardly is short for Can Hardly. You can hardly tell what breed he is.
It’s a long story. Bob had a dog called J. Yeah, just J. J was a female border collie. And she could be one of the great dogs of all time. She ranched and roped and sorted cattle. She could hold herd, sort pairs, and bring a dry cow out of the herd quietly. When Bob roped, J loaded the chute, cleared the arena, and pulled the pin. For you non-ropers, pulling the pin lets the steer into the arena. J read brands and could count up to 23. She was a heck of a dog.
Bob had been trying to get her bred to the top cattle dogs in the country for 12 years. Every time a neighboring rancher had a good male dog, Bob would haul J up. Nothing doing. She did not have time for Lonesome, Lucky, Four, or any of the other handsome males that we used. J was destined to die an old spinster. No offense intended. Bob supposed J had reached the end of her pup-rearing days. Or, as they say, her reproductive clock was running out.
Then along came the poodle. From a neighboring development. He was a cool customer. All trimmed up. Black hat and black cuffs. And the cutest little black ball on the end of his tail. J had seen nothing like him in the Badlands ranches and rodeos she had been to. Nothing like The Poodle had came through the vet clinic for rabies shots or neutering. She fell head over heels for him.
To make a long story short so it fits in the paper, I’ll cut right to the heart of this story. The dog heart. J had puppies. It was a miracle. She was old and Bob had given up on her. But J had seven of the cutest Border Poodles you ever saw. Six nice big black ones and one little runt. Buddi named them all. Roe was named for the attending vet, who sat up for two days and nights with J. Shadow was named for being scared and stupid.
They gave us the runt. We named him Ardly. Cause, well, you know. We had to take Shadow too. So Ardly wouldn’t be lonesome.
You would never believe it. Ardly was good. Only three months old and worked cattle better than any dog we’d had since Lucky. He stops, goes, and minds you. He kept the heifers out of the way of the tractor and loaded the trucks or the chute. He killed rattlesnakes and went down in the holes after prairie dogs.
I was going to enter him in one of those big dog shows in New York. This may be my chance to go down in history. I would have taken the credit because I discovered this talented new breed. The Border Poodle!