In a Sow’s Ear 6-29-09 |

In a Sow’s Ear 6-29-09

Gwen Petersen
Big Timber, Mont.

Besides being a huge help around a ranch, a dog friend is always glad to see you, never criticizes and thinks any activity you undertake is a joyous, practically divine experience.

My Sadie dog went to that big kennel in the sky some time ago. She made it till almost 14 which in dog years put her on the high end of longevity. She got a little arthritic in her “golden years.” I carried a step stool to help her jump up into the pickup.

Once in the truck, she was queen. A cautious approach by strangers was best. It would not do to try to pet her. Not while she reigned from the passenger seat of the pickup. A black border collie with white muzzle, Sadie would curl her lip, slit her eyes and do an imitation of the Tasmanian Devil. She would however, accept a doggie biscuit. She would carefully extract it from whatever hand was offering the treat, then lie down and break the biscuit into two or three pieces. She was not a gulper.

Sadie employed the Devil act big time whenever we pulled into the local gas station. A station attendant attempting to wash the windshield was treated to growls, snarls and teeth-snapping ferocity. Of course, that was while Sadie was safely within the confines of the truck cab. If I let her out, she would immediately enter the station and go behind the counter to the corner where she knew the doggie treats were kept.

When a dog dies, the absence of a canine friend leaves a hole. It takes awhile before another comes along to fill the void. A new pup has to “happen” to you. To attempt to replace your beloved four-footed companion with a look-a-like won’t work. Like kids and horses, every critter is different with its own personality.

Just last week, a new puppy happened to me. My friend Lulubelle got wind of the deed and telephoned.

“I heard you’ve acquired a new puppy,” she said.

“You heard right,” I replied.

“Did you find another border collie?

“Sort of,” I said. “She’s a three-way.”


“She’s part border, part Australian shepherd and part blue heeler.”

“Well, that’s pretty American,” said Lulubelle. “What’s she like?”

“She loves everybody,” I said. “She was born into a household where there was a passel of kids, so she’s been handled a lot. She’s got attitude,” I added. “And she likes to drive.”

“She what? Explain that!”

“OK. I have a four-wheeler, the kind with a steering wheel. The pup crawls up, parks in my lap, puts her feet on the steering wheel and rides that way, sniffing the air and wagging her tail.”

“Cute,” said Lulubelle. “So what does she look like?”

“Gray and black – a little like a heeler, but with a soft furry coat like an Aussie and pricked ears like some border collies.”

“Sounds like a winner,” said Lulubelle. “Hope she makes a good hand for you.”

“She will,” I said with confidence.

“What have you named her?” Lulubelle asked.

“Bailout,” I said.

“Bailout? That’s an odd one. Why’d you pick a handle like Bailout?”

“Well,” I said, “I didn’t want to call her Stimulus.”