Bob my right hand dog was born on the V6 Ranch on a cold blustery day in the year 2004 February 9 making him 14 years old. Now some people say that to determine a dogs age you multiple by 6 years and some people say by 7. Anyway it makes Bob and old friend a couple of years older than I. I’ve written about Bob in his youth. When the distances he would travel to go “girling” was the talk of the Canine community and to my irritation, I traveled a good many miles at times to retrieve my wayward partner from neighboring ranches. But Bob was always ready to give his all when it came time to round up the cattle on the ranch. There was no bovine too mean or ornery that the Lion Hearted wouldn’t grab a hold of until the critter said “uncle”.
Bob’s now 84 or 98 or somewhere in between for which only Bob knows. So let me tell you of Bob’s exploits these past 12 months about how he is “growing 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 3 or 4 miles distance.
But accidents have plagued him this past year which have slowed him down but not to a stand still. Last November I was cleaning a pathway to put in new pipe line for a watering trough when I noticed that Bob was sitting in the shade of a tree and not trying to catch a mouse or Pack Rat as my tractor uncovered their homes. This was not like the Bob of 1 hour ago but I just put it off to “getting old”. Next morning Bobs left hind leg was badly swollen and he was unable to stand. So I brought him some water and a Hot Dog for a snack, sounds like an oxymoron to me. It was also time now, 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. This bite has taken several months to heal, leaving a permanent limp to his left rear leg that now works at 50% of normal. He has taken this in stride as he still wears his happy face every morning when I let him out of his kennel.
It’s now 4/12/18 and Bob has just finished his morning hike with me, but the day before yesterday was a different story. Zee my wife had saddled her horse and went to check on some cattle on what we call the Middle Ridge Pasture. All 6 of our dogs left with her, knowing that there were some cattle to move, lay just around the corner but it was not to be as the cattle were no where in site. Heading for home Zee passes a water trough which the dogs made good use of, all but Bob. Zee thinking Bob was sauntering at his own pace said to herself “ he knows the way home“.
I always feed the dogs at night and Bob is not always waiting to be fed so I left his gate open and food in his dish. Wednesday morning I was in a hurry and didn’t notice that Bobs food was not eaten. I was home for lunch and Zee asked me if I had seen Bob. I said “no” and went about my work. Zee was uncomfortable about Bobs where a-bouts. So saddling her horse again, she mounted and began “back tracking” to the watering trough where she had a hunch that Bob might be. Sure enough there he was, but he was a straddle the trough. His hind legs were on the outside of the trough but they didn’t quite hit the ground and the front half with legs just long enough to keep his nose out for breathing while in some real cold water. He couldn’t go forward or backward as his weak hind leg was of no use. 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 for 24 hours in cold water. It would have been so easy to let ones nose slide under the water and say Good Bye. But not Bob. Zee got off her horse and pulled him out where he collapsed to the ground. Zee headed for home 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. We quickly dried him with a towel and then wrapped him in a blanket. I felt that if he was going to survive he would have to eat something tasty. What do all dogs love to eat? Steak, that’s what, and boy did he. 3 feedings of steak later and a good nights sleep was the cure. Thursday morningBob awoke a little bit wobbly but solidly with the living and with a grateful look on his face he said” Never yell whoa in a bad place”
What a definition for courage and growing old gracefully.