Rooney the ranch dog found and returned
Bledsoe Mobile Vet
Rooney the ranch dog is well known in eastern Colorado as ranch dogs go, so when he went missing, word traveled quickly through the ranching communities surrounding Hugo, Colo.
Owned by local large animal veterinarian Dr. Lora Bledsoe, Rooney, an Australian Shepherd calls the Frying Pan Ranch near Hugo home, though he periodically accompanies Bledsoe as she visits and treats her 80,000 large animal clients in her mobile veterinary practice.
Rooney escaped his groomer’s yard last week and evaded attempts to catch him in the small town of Stratton. Bledsoe, who is also the mayor of Hugo, put out a social media plea for information regarding his location but urged people to only trail him from a distance.
With hot weather across eastern Colorado, local ranchers familiar with Bledsoe began scouring the dirt roads between Stratton and the family’s 1918 cattle ranch. In the small towns that dot the Plains, dog lovers and city dwellers, alike, joined the search on foot, in vehicles, on four-wheelers, and even golf carts.
After two days of searching, Rooney was spotted 40 miles from Stratton, and 15 miles from the ranch. Though he was still on the lam, the sighting gave the search crews renewed hope. Being a working ranch dog, Rooney is accustomed to traveling distances on the ranch, but remained in unfamiliar areas. While all of this was happening, Bledsoe was helping puppy customers choose pups from Rooney’s most recent litter to return to their new homes or ranches.
Finally, the Bledsoes were on the north end of the ranch on July 11 when Rooney came trotting up to their pickup. Rooney had traveled over 40 miles in the heat through the sparsely populated areas around Hugo and found his way back to the ranch.
“Anyone who has ever watched Rooney work cattle on the ranch, reading a cowboy’s body language from a distance to be in the perfect position, knows this dog’s talent,” Bledsoe said. “I had no idea how amazing he is until now.”
Bledsoe said the response from rural communities across the eastern Plains was incredible, and shows the heart of small towns, the people who also band together to produce food and fiber for the state.
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After hail, flooding, a severe drought and a depressed market — all within months — Mike Kertzman says his days of ranching might be numbered.