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Sheep and Goat Guard Dogs

Author: BJ Mayo
Published in Ranch and Rural Living Magazine

When our place came on the market about sixteen years ago, we were living in Fruita, Colorado just outside of the Grand Junction area. We had a beautiful view of the Colorado National Monument to look at daily as well as the Grand Mesa to the east of Palisade. My job took me close to Vernal, Utah as well as the Four Corners region on a frequent basis. I was able to see the intense haying operations during a very short season. Ranchers cutting hay getting ready for the seemingly never-ending winters and trying to provide feed for their cattle and sheep when the storms blew through. We did see a negative 15 deg f one winter morning and I had a better understanding of engine block warmers that need to stay plugged in every night, let us say. It is also safe to say that there are four very distinct seasons in Colorado. In West and Central Texas, it seems it can go from fall to winter in one day as well as spring to summer.

Although we loved the beauty of the mountains, we are Texans by birth and by heart. We longed to return to the San Angelo area. Consequently, when our place came on the market, we jumped at the chance. Not just to live in the area, but to own a farm and live in the country.

We scheduled an appointment to drive down and see the place on a Friday. The 930 miles did not phase us as we broke up the trip into two days.

Upon arriving, my wife immediately knew she wanted the house. I was completely oblivious to the house and wanted to see the pasture and cultivated land. We liked the owners immediately with their warm and gracious country ways. The broker unloaded his four-seater SUV golf cart and loaded us up. Of course, the owner’s black and white Terrier “ Becky” made herself welcome on the journey. The owner was running approximately 100 head of steers on hay grazer at the time. We made our way down all of the fence lines and looked the property over. We drew up a contract immediately and closed on the property shortly thereafter.

I brought a load down the next weekend as the owner allowed me to store some wood working equipment and various other items in the old red barn.

“ This thing don’t leak. We lived in it when they were building this rock house. Rock came right off of the place. Beautiful ain’t it?”

“ Yes sir, it sure is. How old is it?” The door inside is marked 1914.”

“ Well, I reckon it is closing in on a hundred years then. Use to be part of a train depot. When you get unloaded, why don’t you take my four-wheeler and go take a look at your new place. Stay as long as you want. We are having steaks and tomatoes tonight and you can stay in the guest bed room. Now, Becky likes to ride on the four-wheeler behind you.”

 As soon as I finished unloading and parked my truck, I started the four-wheeler. Becky immediately jumped onto the seat and put her head under my arm.

“ Now, she is liable to spot a snake or two down by that little rock pile. She got bit in the face by a five-foot rattler, right here in front of the house. We barely got her to the Vet in time. She nearly died. That girl really hates rattlesnakes. Spends all day walking the rock wall around the house looking for them. She will do the same thing down at that little rock pile. I think there is a den in there. Anyway, supper about 6:00. Have fun.”

True to his word, Becky did indeed throw a barking fit at the little rockpile. She would bark, kick dirt with her back feet and bark again. We made the entire place and finally made it back in time for supper. We enjoyed a delicious steak with slices of salt and peppered tomato. Afterwards, we sat outside at the metal table and watched the sun go down.

“ Now BJ, Becky has done taken a big liking to you. She has never known anything but this farm. I’m a-giving her to you and your wife. She sleeps right there in that green house. Has her own bed and blanket. Has a heater too. Some nights, she will pull that blanket right up to the heater and sleep right there. Every night, she has to have her little Oreos before she turns in. We give her two every night before bed.

She is a good snake dog and a very good goat and sheep dog. Never tries to hurt one. Let’s you know if there is a problem and starts to barking. You and her are going to get along fine. I can tell by the way she rode with you on that four-wheeler. She is going to make you folks a fine companion and guard dog. ”

I should have but did not refuse the offer. What harm could possibly come from this dog.

Becky proved to be spoiled and somewhat uncontrollable. She was always where she was not supposed to be and doing things she was not supposed to be doing.

I set a live trap in the barn corral to try and catch a varmint that was digging the pens at night. The next day when I checked it, there were two kid goats in it and one angry nanny. Becky the dog just happened to be with me and made the mistake of coming up to the corral. The nanny immediately got her down with her horns and tried to kill her. I grabbed Becky by the legs and pulled her away. As soon as I set the kid goats free, they began to nurse. Becky made the bad mistake of coming back by the nanny. She immediately attacked her again. Becky was squalling and the nanny was furiously grunting as she shoved Becky into the dirt with her head time and again. I was able to rescue her one more time and quickly took her out of the corral. We found out later that she liked to get under the goat hauling trailer and bark and nip at them once they were loaded. Maybe this particular nanny remembered that when a set of her kids went to sale.

Besides being a true annoyance at every occurrence, a lot of money was invested in this gift dog to keep her alive. She developed cancer in her teats and had to have surgery that was expensive. Her habit of trying to lick your face and jump in to the truck nearly done her in with my wife. She jumped into a new truck covered in mud and then tried to do a little face licking.

After several years of taking care of the Becky the “Gift Guard Dog”, my wife called me one day and informed me that Becky was dead.

“ How do you know she is dead?” I said.

“ Well, she is stiff as a board and her legs are sticking up in the air.”

“ Sounds like she is sure enough dead. I can’t get back there tonight. You will have to bury her.”

“ You don’t worry about that. I will sure enough get her buried. Good riddance.

Practical advice of the day

“Beware of gifted sheep and goat guard dogs. They may just be Oreo eaters.”

Until next time

 

BJ Mayo

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