Bob, my right hand dog was born on our V6 ranch on a cold blustery day in the year 2004 February 9 making him 15 years old now. If you use 6 dog years for each of our years, Bob is now 90 years old which certainly qualifies him as an elder statesmen who tells me that life’s been good to him and “nobody has had more fun than I!”
What an uplifting life to chronicle. So I asked Bob if I might record for posterity his contributions to the success of the V6 Ranch and with the wag of his tail, which is dog talk for yes, I now take pen in hand and with high hopes to document his many achievements and how a dog can be much more than a loving pet, but a mentor as well.
Bob’s life's work will be defined by his D.N.A. For Bob was out of a Boarder Collie bitch by the name of Mary and a Boarder Collie dog by the name of Slick and he certainly was. Once the litter opened their eyes Bob was a stand out right from the start. He enjoyed “rough housing” with his brothers and sisters which would serve him well for his D.N.A. mandated that his occupation would be that of a herding dog moving anything on four legs from point A to point B.
So what qualities does it take to create a Bob dog? First he has to wear Boarder Collie clothes. They’re mostly black with white accents scattered about. They are to be worn over a 30 to 50 pound frame. Bob’s hair-coat is of medium length but the individual hairs are fairly course so that Stickers and Ticks find this Hair Shirt not easy to penetrate. Next comes the feet that will have to carry him day after day rounding up the cattle without getting “foot sore”. Now to the most important part and thats what’s inside. Where the heart of a lion dwells. Somebody once said “it’s not the size of the man in the fight but the size of the fight in the man.” The size of the fight in Bob will be tested over and over again and again for about 10 years. This 40 pound body of fearless, grit, and sinew will latch on to whatever piece of opportunity that shows it's self. Be it an ear, or a nose, or a neck then he must stop or turn this 1,000 pound cow, 25 times Bob size that’s trying to escape into the nearest hide away. Then with blood a flying Bob brings her under his control and says “say uncle you, bitch”
Damn, Bob I just forgot to tell you that there’s a new “in style” political dictate. That when talking about genders and this goes for both of us we need to be more politically correct and say aunt not uncle when you’ve got the old hide stopped from going into her brush covered safe house. Glancing over at Bob, I could see that he was contemplating this new demand.
"Jack", he barked, “I know you want me to be Politically Correct but the word aunt, well it just doesn’t allow me to really vent my anger and I know you don’t want me spending my days with a cloud of frustration hanging over me". Bob, what’s going on? you're shivering. "Jack, I think I’ve got it, know, I’ve really got it, I feel an Ah Ha idea coming on and it has registered nicely on my anger management scale. It would cause my cloud of frustration to evaporate. Jack this thought is so extraordinary that it illuminates my mind with its goodness. I would even call it a water shed event. It will be a worthy entry not just to our English language but to men everywhere and some adventurous women could even benefit if they tried it. It will be a salve for our virility and it would take it's place right along side other memorable phrases that have stood the test of time. How about “Piss Aunt?”
Our cow that has been the cause of all this clamoring over women rights moving up and mens going down went right to Bobs neck causing his hackles to stand on end. That’s when I heard him say with a grin “I guess I taught you a thing or two, you old Hide,” and then Bob went on to say “In deference to you ladies it’s okay with me if you all want to incite a feminist movement and while your at it, why not have a bowl movement with me.
I remember an old saying -all work and no play will make Bob a dull boy. Not true! For when it came to romancing the ladies he was no dull boy. In fact he was legendary for the miles that he would travel on one of his trips “getting to know the neighbor ladies.” The shear distances he would travel to go “girling” was the talk of the canine community but for me it was a source of great irritation. I have traveled many a mile mumbling to myself of different forms of punishment I will meter out to you when I get my hands on you. Oh there you are get in the pickup right now. There’s no need trying to give me excuses. I know the problem you're just too horny for your own good, you jerk. By the way, how was she? Did she make you “howl at the Moon and then leave you like a worn out shirt?" Bob, Bob, Bob well aren’t you something special to travel with, you're already asleep.
Bob’s now 90 years old. So let me tell you of some of his exploits as a senior citizen. Bob’s active years about 10 in number were fairly predictable but he never ceased to amaze me with a nose that could lead me to unseen cattle, his athleticism that endowed him with an uncanny ability to dodge hoofs and horns of any cow, that would like nothing better than to disembowel him. This black and white “bad ass” that could make life miserable to any that didn’t heed his commands. But Bob also had a “gentle side” he showed to his grazing charges as long as they accepted that he was the boss. As the years have come and gone, Bob traveled threw them all, relatively unscathed, with only a few teeth missing to show for the times he forgot to duck.
The past three years have been a tale of how to “grow old gracefully.” Helping with the cattle work has become a duty that I can no longer dictate but rather Bob will join up if it’s cool enough and no more than three or four miles to travel.
But accidents have plagued him this past year which has slowed him down considerably, but not to a stand still. Last November I was cleaning a pathway to install a new pipe line for a watering trough when I noticed that Bob was sitting in the shade of a tree, not showing any interest in one of his favorite games that of trying to catch a mouse or pack rat when my tractor would uncover one their homes. This was not like the Bob of one hour ago. I just put it to a satisfied mind that he was happy with where he sat. Next morning Bobs left hind leg was badly swollen and he was unable to stand. So I brought him some water and a couple of Hot Dogs for a snack and it was then time for me to use my self taught Veterinary skills. My first thought was that Bob was kicked by a horse but upon closer examination I noticed 2 little blood specks that said Rattlesnake bite. Rattlesnake bites can be real nasty wounds that can take several months to heal as the venom tends to atrophy the muscle tissue. In Bobs case it left him with a permanent limp to his left rear leg that now works at about 50% of normal. But he has taken this new infirmity in stride as he still wears his happy face with tail wagging every morning when we meet.
With Bobs snake bite episode of last November behind him another brush with death awaits. Zee, my wife was saddling her horse which is the cue for all the dogs to start jostling with each other knowing that there was going to be cattle to move in a field called Middle Ridge Pasture. All 6 of our dogs left with her, knowing that there were some cattle to be moved. This meant that lots of fun was waiting just around the corner. But it was not to be as the cattle were no where to be seen. They had headed North to new grass which is what we wanted them to do anyway. Zee and the pack turn around and head for home with a planned drink of water stop for all the dogs and her horse and a swim for those that wanted to. Bob, had been losing ground on the pack because of his bum leg. But Zee new he would keep following along at his own pace and probably stop for a drink and few minutes of rest. She said to herself “he knows the way home“. Evening time is my time to feed our dogs and I noticed that Bob was not present. This was not out of the ordinary as he’s not always waiting to be fed, so I just leave the gate open to his house and food in his dish. Wednesday morning I was in a hurry and didn’t notice that Bobs food was not eaten and at noon I was home for lunch and Zee asked me had I you seen Bob. I said “no” but my guys are waiting for me, I’ve got to get back to finish the fence we’ve been repairing since that big Pine tree feel on it. Zee was uncomfortable about Bobs where a-bouts. So saddling her horse again, she mounted and began “back tracking” to where she had ridden the previous day. She had a hunch that Bob might be near the watering trough they had drank from the day before and sure enough there he was. But he was half in the trough and half out. His hind legs were on the outside but they didn’t quite hit the ground and with his bum hind leg his backend was of little help. His front half with legs just long enough to keep his nose out water for breathing could get no traction on a half rounded surface that was made very slippery as well from a coat of water moss. Then to add to his misery he was stuck in some real cold water. He couldn’t go forward or backward and as day migrated into night I’m sure he must have thought “so this is how I meet my maker stuck in a water trough”. I can’t imagine what kind of fortitude it took to straddle a one quarter inch edge of steel watering trough cutting into his body right behind his rib cage and then having to holding his head up just high enough to keep from drowning, for 24 hours, in cold water. I think for most it would have been so easy to let ones nose slide beneath the water and say Good Bye. But not Bob. Zee got off her horse and pulled him out where upon he collapsed to the ground. Time was of an essence so she headed for home at a long trot and got our Foreman to take his pickup and rescue the Lion. When I arrived home Bob was laid out on his side still wet and very cold but he was breathing. We quickly dried him with a towel and then wrapped him in a blanket. I felt that if he was going to survive only his favorite food would suffice. My wife would have to surrender a couple of steaks to excite his will to live. Sure enough with the first bite of primordial food he willed himself back to the living, then melded into an exhausted nights sleep. Thursday morning Bob awoke a little bit wobbly but solidly with the living and with a grateful look on his face he said “ Ya never yell whoa in a bad place”
What a definition for having the courage and pluck in ones darkest hour to not give up. I’m looking down at Bob right now but I know he is standing taller in stature than I. What a mentor to show the world how to grow old gracefully.