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Puppy love

Marci Whitehurst for Progressive Cattleman Published on 26 October 2016
puppy and bucket

My husband surprised me.

This August, we stopped to visit with friends. Their dog had a litter of pups about eight weeks earlier. The kids and I had been "working" on my hubby to say yes to a puppy, but he refused. His heart still ached for the last one.

It was a classic love story. Man loses his beloved. Man swears he'll never love again. Canine style.

Our treasured cattle dog and family member died suddenly this past spring. We all grieved. We buried her overlooking the river. My hubby swore there'd never be a dog as good as her, so we would not be getting another one.

He didn't change his mind when the cattle moved a little slower without her. Or when he was certain his horse was "looking" for her. Or when the corral seemed a little lonely at branding. He grumped when we mentioned the puppies down the road.

However, when we went to leave our friend's house that day, my cowboy picked up a puppy and loaded it in our rig.

I was speechless. (This is hard to accomplish.)

Well, the cattle needed her. It'd be good for the kids. She looked a lot like Dally (the one we lost). Her parents are good cattle dogs. ...

Suddenly cowboy logic kicked up many reasons to have a new pup.

Enter Rye, our new border collie.

Rye is almost 5 months old and our lives haven't been the same.

  • My flowers were "replanted" upside down.
  • There are small logs appearing in our yard that have been shredded.
  • Things left on the porch do not stay on the porch.
  • The garden gate must be kept closed.

However, the benefits are worth it.

  • She is always happy to see you.
  • She is already loyal.
  • She's incredibly cute.
  • Her curiosity is fun.
  • We can't keep her from working cows. She's a natural. (Although she is young, so we are taking it slow.)

puppy moving cows

The benefits of having a stock dog abound, but here are our favorites:

A built-in co-worker

They are always ready to work. They don't grumble about the long hours. They love working. They live to work. In fact, their feelings are hurt if you ever leave them home.

A true family member

They always give you a shoulder to cry on. They don't judge you. They give and receive love when it is needed. They always come home. They accept you no matter what. They even do small jobs around the house, like help clean up after branding.

A constant companion

They will sleep at your feet come rain or shine. They love being next to you even if you're grumpy. They are consistently loyal. They never tell your ranching secrets – they don't tease you for leaving the gate open. They lick your wounds. They forgive you if you ever get mad at them. They even forget almost immediately that you were ever mad.

They are hardworking

They never whine about getting out of bed at 4 or 5 a.m. Fifteen-hour days are their delight. Aside from a dry place to sleep, food and your affection, they don't ask for any pay.

Not everyone enjoys stock dogs, but they sure are helpful to us.

My hubby said he'd never get another dog, but he insists that statement was only a ploy to "trick" us so he could surprise us. Either way, we just couldn't resist. Who could say no to these eyes? Talk about puppy love.  end mark

Marci Whitehurst is a freelance writer, ranch wife and the mother of three children. You can follow her at her blog.

PHOTO 1: Honest guys, the bucket just fell over.

PHOTO 2: Curiosity is put to good use when Rye moves the cows. Photos by Marci Whitehurst.

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