In a Sow’s Ear 4-5-10
Question: What do you give Bailout the Cowdog for her first birthday?
Answer: Eight weeks enrollment in Obedience School of course.
Explanation: You, the Human, are supposed to learn proper methods for training, Bailout, the Cowdog in the fine art of sit, down, stay, come and heel.
Class I: What happens … You, the Human, can’t get Bailout in the pickup. She happily rides on the 4-wheeler, but ever since her “operation” she has refused to climb into the pickup. No amount of “doggie treats” will lure her anywhere near the open door of the truck. You, the Human, have to woman-handle her up and in.
Problem: You are required to use a blocking tactic to keep Bailout from sliding out faster than a snake down a rabbit hole. You fail. Four times.
Result: Bailout misses the first meeting of Obedience School, which is held in town in the Civic Center gymnasium. You, however, do attend and report your shame to the instructor.
Class II: Another member (call her Gertrude) of Obedience School stops by your place to help load Bailout. Gertie scoops up Bailout and scrunches into the passenger seat with the squirming dog in her arms. You clamber into the driver’s side. Immediately, Bailout tries to escape through the driver’s door. Gertie hangs on. You manage to establish yourself behind the steering wheel and close the door. You reach for Bailout’s collar and hang on while Gertrude debarks.
Driving to town is an experience you could describe in several ways, but disorganized panic pretty much covers it. You can bad-mouth cell phone use and texting while driving, but it doesn’t compare a whit to navigating five miles of narrow county-road blacktop while a semi-hysterical dog tries to sit in your lap. You shove her over. She resists. You shove again. She resists. Then suddenly she spots a group of horses in a pasture. The ears go up, the tongue lolls, the eyes sparkle. Fortunately, the window is closed. With a whine, Bailout turns back to you.
“Look!” she woofs in dog-talk. “There’s horses out there that need chasing!” You refuse to accommodate. Bailout turns back to the window. As we pass another field, it seems as if we’ve stumbled into a John Wayne movie. The entire pasture is dotted with colorful longhorn cattle. You almost expect the Duke to come riding over the edge of the horizon. He doesn’t, but Bailout nearly bursts her skin from excitement.
You finally make it to the gym (wearing a good amount of dog slobber). Emerging from the truck with Bailout firmly attached to a leash utilizes muscles you wish you didn’t have to utilize. By the time both shoulders have definitely suffered rotator cuff damage, you’re in the door, up the stairs and into the gym. So are seven other dogs and their owners. (For clarification: Owners have two legs; dogs have four).
Class begins with all attendees told to “stand behind the blue line.” The instructor then declares all should turn the dogs loose and let them “socialize.” Chaos ensues. Every other canine in the class loves Bailout and she loves them back. It’s a scramble of happy, frolicking dogs … until the one cranky woofer tries to eat Bailout who runs for her mama (yours truly). Bailout leaps up; the force knocks you backwards. Fortunately your crash is broken by the bench lining the gym wall. Your derriere drops with a thud onto said bench.
Bailout burrows onto your lap. As she is the size (and looks) of a gray-coated coyote, she might be expected to have a problem getting her entire body established on your person. She has no problem. All four legs and long plumy tail paste themselves to your form; her nozzle presses against the side of your neck. A slurpy tongue licks your chin. (You try not to dwell on what she was eating this morning at the horse corral).
The Obedience School experience continues for six more weeks. After only two classes, you are proud to say you are becoming proficient in sit, down, stay, come and heel. You can even do it without a tidbit treat reward.
Bailout, however, prefers dime-sized hunks of Oscar Meyer wiener.
The North Park Stockgrowers Association and Western Landowners Alliance hosted a meeting in Walden, Colo., on June 20 for northern Colorado ranchers focused on reducing conflict between working lands and wildlife as naturally migrating wolves…
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