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Diagnosis at the Sale Barn

Tom Hamblen
Evans, Colo.

The sale had just ended and the auctioneers, ring men and the whole sales crew were standing around the old Sunset Livestock Sales Yard on First Avenue in Greeley, Colo., swapping tales and passing around a bottle of “refreshment.” These men worked hard as they labored to get the best price for a nice herd of heifers, a good horse, or even an extra dollar or two for the old crippled milk cow. Most of them had grown up around livestock and they were accustomed to tough times. Nothing bothered them!

As they stood there, a little boy approached them. He was obviously upset as he looked up at the head auctioneer, Claude Redman. Now, Claude fit the stereotype of the tough guy. He had been around livestock all his life and taken a few kicks in his day. But standing there before him was this little boy with watery eyes and a quivering voice.

“Mr. Redman, can you help me? I need you to look at my puppy.” One look at this little boy and there was no way that this big, tough cowboy could say no. “Sure son, let’s take a look. Where’s he at and what do you think is wrong with him?” His voice still quivering, the boy responded, “He’s laying out back of the sale barn … he hasn’t been playing and running around like he usually does. He got in one of the corrals and I think he got kicked. He has some blood around his nose and mouth, and he’s been whimpering.”

Well, anyone who’s been around livestock knows that a corral is no place for a pup. Even a good cutting dog can receive an “attention getter” occasionally. Pups just think cattle are playing.

Well, this little boy had definitely gotten the attention of the whole sales crew, who tagged along a few steps behind Claude. As he and the little boy made their way around the corral to the back of the sale barn where his puppy was lying, the little boy said, “Oh, one more thing … his little sides aren’t going in and out. I hope he’s not dead?”

Now, we have all been there … doing just fine, knowing the situation doesn’t look good, but we’re able to hold it together. Then the straw comes that breaks the camel’s back! For this big, tough cowboy, it was just a few words from a little boy who was concerned about his puppy … “His little sides aren’t going in and out!”

Well, Claude stopped dead in his tracks, pulled an old red kerchief from his back pocket, pretending to be wiping the dust and sweat from his face and turned to one of the crew and said, “Hey, why don’t you take a look at the pup? I’m not very good at doctoring … and it sounds like he might need a bit of fixin’ up!”

The boy was right … the pup’s sides weren’t going in and out. His venture into the corral had been his last. Anyone who’s reading this story knows that Claude found a new puppy for the little boy … but nobody’d better harass him about it … he’s one of those big, tough cowboys, you know.”


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