Gwen Petersen: In a Sow’s Ear 7-4-11
Stock dogs: Probably the most popular choices for working dogs in ranch country are Border Collie, Australian Shepherd and Blue Heeler. While you can purchase an expensive papered pup of sterling pedigree, more often a dog just happens along. Such was the case with Sadie, the Border Collie, who partnered with me for 14 years. While not unfriendly, Sadie did not tolerate people who tried to cozy up, and she employed a ferocious lip-curling snarl if anyone messed with “her” pickup.
After Sadie went to that big kennel in the sky, along came Bailout, a three-way combo of Aussie, Border and Blue Heeler. She took up residence with me when she was three months old and immediately took charge of the place, the cats and assorted varmints.
Don’t sit down in my house. Convinced she’s a lapdog, she will nest – uninvited – in your lap. It’s embarrassing.
She rides in the 4-wheeler like a Queen on parade. At first she loved riding in the pickup – until the day she went to the Veterinarian for her “operation.” For the next eight months, Bailout flat refused to get in that vehicle. Then one day she got over her snit. Now – next to bringing in the horses – traveling in the pickup with her head stuck out a window is her favorite activity.
Just last week, I started for town with Bailout, as usual, poking her head into the zephyrs. (I always lock the side window at half mast to keep her contained). She stands with her front feet on the door ledge where the control buttons are located. That day, I’d failed to press the lock button. She contrived to step on said button which lowered the pane to fully open status.
At that moment she spotted a gopher – and Bailout bailed. In a split second, she abandoned ship and nailed the little varmint. I stopped the truck, got out. Mr. gopher lay stretched out on his back, his little paws clasped together on his little breast. Bailout stood over him, smiling. I should have had my camera …
Wherever I park in town, Bailout hangs out the window inviting passersbies to pet her, especially kids. Her tail wags, her grin grows broader and her tongue offers frequent kisses – it’s embarrassing.
At the gas station – adjacent to an open field – I allow Bailout to take a run. She runs alright. She has learned that if she “helps” every gasoline purchaser, they will pet her. It’s embarrassing.
At the library one day, I let her out as it was hot and there’s nice shade there. What did she do? She coaxed a kid to open the library door, entered, dashed up the steps and proceeded to visit every person seated at a computer. She parked her paws on their laps and kissed their hands when they patted her. It was embarrassing.
She zoomed among the stacks to help browsers select books. When she spotting an innocent patron, she stood on her hind legs and leaned her front paws on the person’s stomach and begged for a pat. It was embarrassing.
The library checkout desk is a rather formidable barrier. Not for Bailout. She scurried behind it to help the librarians tally books. It was embarrassing. She doesn’t even read.
Last week when I had occasion to visit my bank, I parked Bailout in the shade of a tree and told her to “stay.” While I was transacting banking business, one of the tellers looked out the big plate glass window and emitted a shocked gasp, “Your dog! Your dog!”
“What abut my dog?”
“She’s in the middle of the street stopping traffic!”
“Oh, geez!” I zipped out the door.
It was true. Bailout was in the middle of the street. She had taken up a position on purpose. Each time a pickup approached, she flagged it down; when it stopped she reared up on the driver side, smiled and begged – in dog language – “Pet me! Pet me!”
That dog is way too friendly.