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Posted 4/21/15 (Tue)


One thing I know about life is that I will never be accused of being a dog trainer. Someone once told me that to be a dog trainer, you should be smarter than the dog. I think therein lies the problem. Oh, I’ve had some good dogs - King, a German Shepherd; Tyke, a red heeler; Lucky, a border collie crossed with something big; and several others. But they were kind of self-made cattle dogs. I didn’t really teach them. They taught me the commands that needed to be used.
Then, as you may recall, along came Vern. Vern Baker. The dog I saved from the animal rescue in Baker. The dog that did $3,000 worth of damage to our house the first time we forgot to let him out when we left...for one hour. The dog that shredded the roof in Will’s pickup when I put him in the cab to keep him from going under the horse trailer and stopping cattle from loading. The dog that taught me to swear. And whom now is deaf, so even swearing does absolutely no good. But he is dang good with my grandkids and is willing to go anywhere I do. It’s kind of like the story about who loves you. Lock your wife and your dog in the garage for three days, and see which one is happy to see you! I haven’t tried that. Probably won’t.
Anyway, I have a new dog. He’s a blue heeler crossed with something up on Fort Berthold. His owners, whom I have no reason to doubt, swear he comes from a great strain of outstanding cattle dogs. It’s hard to train a pup with Vern helping. All the dog was learning was new swear words, that a deaf dog would not hear.
So now, he and I are ranching in Harding County. Now, I said I never doubted his previous owners. But so far this dog has chased antelope, sharptail grouse, robins, sparrows, and rabbits. He is scared of cattle, despises horses, and has no inclination to heel anything...other than me when I walk out to check the heifers at two in the morning. But dang, he is kind of good company and cleans up the table scraps. And licks the plates so clean I don’t need to wash them!
He’s not near as smart as one of my old neighbor’s dogs. He had a dog that, every day, would go out and gather the eight milk cows in the 40-acre lot just off the barn. Twice a day. Shannon would grab his milk pails and head for the barn. His dog would let out a yelp, circle that pasture, and bring those eight cows to the barn.
Well, lo and behold, one of those cows developed mastitis and had to be sold. So Shannon loaded her up and took her into Stockmen’s. That evening that dog went out to that pasture and pretty near ran himself to death searching for the eighth cow. Shannon swore the only way he got him to stop was he took him up to the house and showed him the check from the sales barn!
I’ve got to go buy dog food.