Cowdog! — or not
Here in the ranch country of northern Colorado, many ranchers find canine helpers to be useful when working with livestock. There are dog breeds that are genetically talented and, when individual dogs are properly trained, they can be very helpful. Such dogs keep the herd moving or herded up. They often nip at the heels of livestock being loaded in trailers even. Very impressive.
Among the breeds used as cowdogs and sheepdogs are Australian Cattledogs, Blue and Red Heelers, and Border Collies. Yellow Labrador Retrievers are not usually included in that list of working breeds. Labs are considered sporting dogs, hunting dogs, and bird dogs. They are not working dogs. They are playing dogs.
Beau is a Yellow Lab. He is a swimming dog and, indeed, a bird dog. He is also good at retrieving. For fun. He only does things that are fun for him.
Retrieving is not the same task as, say, herding. However, Beau does not limit himself to retrieving. He is apparently interested in learning new things as long as they look like fun to him.
Today I was in Denver acting as a lawyer rather than a cowboy. I was at a settlement conference for a case involving a permanent total disability. During a break, I called my trusty wife, Miss Sugar, to recount my legal brilliance, but she changed the subject to Beau.
“I know that you are busy with the big case,” she said, “but I have something to tell you when you get home. It is about Beau. What a jerk!”
That, of course, raised my curiosity, as it may have also caused you, gentle readers, to be curious about what the jerk did this time, especially if you have read my many other blogs about Beau.
Well, one of the things that happens in the ranch country is that cowboys (and their horses and dogs) move cattle. Today, our neighbor chose to move cows to the upper pasture, the route for which goes past our place, but on the other side of the river.
At this point, I will remind you of my mentioning that Beau can swim and likes to swim. Therefore, the river is not a barrier for him.
When the four riders and their cowdog were pushing the cows along the river, Beau observed their activity and his big heart told him that he should help. Or, his heart might not have been involved in his decision-making. Anyway, it seemed like fun to him, I surmise. (Remember, I was not present).
Miss Sugar was present. She watched the events unfold. The events included Beau joining the cowboys, horses, cows and dog.
Miss Sugar is not all that neighborly, apparently. Unlike Beau, she did not go help push the herd. Instead, she interfered with Beau’s volunteer activity. She called him to urge him to come home. She wanted him to not help his neighbors. I know that she reads the Bible and goes to church. Nevertheless, the stuff about loving your neighbor as yourself did not sink in. Or did it? Maybe she believed that she was loving her neighbors by denying them Beau’s proffered assistance.
The way she told it, and Beau did not deny it, when Sugar called, Beau did not immediately hear her. Had he heard her, surely he would have returned to her side as she requested repeatedly.
Now Miss Sugar had options. She could swim over to retrieve her Retriever or she could walk to a bridge, which was the choice that she chose. That choice was not the most direct nor the quickest way to get to the other side of the river, but it was, in her defense, the driest way to cross.
So she went over the bridge and Beau finally came over to her, presumably to report on how fun it is to chase cows, when Miss Spoilsport grabbed his collar and brought him home — by way of the bridge despite Beau’s willingness to swim back. Sugar hardly ever swims across the river, but I love her anyway. After all, she is just a girl.