By Herb Moore
Special to the Chronicle
My day starts being let out of the house, running to the corral where I have a good pee, then I woof a good mornin’ to my pal Nugget. He reaches down and rubs me with his muzzle and gives me a low nicker. Now we have to wait until our Master comes out to feed us.
My name is Honey, a silly name for a dog but that’s what they call me; it’s because of my hair which is different shades of light golden brown. But can you imagine what the neighbours think when they hear my Mistress call out “Honey, you get in here right now!”
I wish I was a horse like my friend Nugget. He’s big and strong and he doesn’t have to stay in the house at night, and like right now he’s been fed already. I have to wait until they have breakfast and put my food dish down. Mind you, it’s a lot better tasting than that stuff Nugget has to eat, except in the winter time. Plus, his usual flake of hay they give him is something called hot feed. It has oats and barley and molasses. I don’t know what it tastes like but it sure smells good.
Oh good! Master is putting on his chaps and spurs. That means we’re going out to check the cows. I really like this because Nugget and I work real well together. I can get in through the thick brush around the swamp and push the cows out where Master can check them over or if we have to move them to new range I help move them along.
Nugget just has to be there. He’s big and can run so fast sometimes he’ll nip them on the flank if they don’t want to go. I nip at their feet. Master says I’m as good as having two or more cowboys.
This is better; we’re on open range now and the cows are moving along good. I’m at what master calls “trail.” That means I have to stay right beside Nugget’s left hind leg. When he wants me to move up and herd, he says “away” and points with his arm the direction I’m to go and whistles and waves his arm to tell me to turn them. My mother taught me these things too. Master let me go with her when I was still a pup and I’d do whatever she did.
It isn’t all fun; a mean, nasty old cow kicked me real hard. Split my lips and loosened some teeth. Now I’m more careful when nipping at them.
Now we’re stopped. Master has to ride up and open a gate. My job is to run back and forth behind the herd to keep them bunched up. The gate must be open. Master and Nugget are heading back. I hear his single whistle and his arm is pointing to the right. I run real fast up alongside the herd and see the problem. The cattle are spreading out instead of going through the gate. Master is giving short sharp whistles and pointing to the gate. I begin nipping heels, forcing the cows to move to the gate, and Nugget on his side is crowding them forward too. Our teamwork is successful; once the first few cows are through the gate the rest follow and when they’re all through the gate and master has closed it our hard work is over for the day.
A leisurely walk home; my legs are tired and Nugget’s head is drooping a bit so I reckon he’s tired too.
Master unsaddles and turns Nugget out in the near pasture; that means he won’t be needing him for a day or two. I’m happy to stretch out on the front deck where I can guard Master and Mistress, warn them if someone turns in from the road, doze from time to time in the late afternoon sun and look forward to my supper.