Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Working Dogs & One Eyed Louie

Ernest giving baby Sami a kiss! (Jan. 1999)

Ernest checking out our new 'pup' Sami!

Meet "One Eyed Louie", Louie for short

One of the McNab puppies... Deep in thought!

Two McNab puppies, 'herding' the sprinkler.

So the question has been raised, 'what type of dogs are your herd dogs and how many do you have?'. Our herd dogs are McNabs, a short haired breed, similar to border collies, but ever so much smarter and less 'wired' for sound.. (ok, just my biased opinion!). The guard dogs, Great Peyrranies (sp), (which you met, Duke & Curious George) do not herd animals. They protect them, and think they are part of the herd. McNabs on the other hand, like to circle around a group of critters (chickens, for example) and keep them together, and once together, lie down and stare at them (as if saying, don't make a move or someones going to get hurt). If puppies, they do more damage, like chew on your favorite chicken!!! (you have met Goldie).

We rec'd our first McNab dog as a wedding gift... Ernest came into our lives as a fat little puppy... so Dick named him after Ernest Tubbs... We have been married 12 years, and Mr. Ernest, or Ernesto, as he is lovingly called, is now semi-retired. He goes with Dick on the quad, but has to be lifted into the back of a pickup, his hearing is getting bad, and he has lots of white fur around his face and throughout in his coat... he has even had a few lumps removed. Ernest is very much like an old cowboy.... or rancher... He won't ever truly retire, he will hang around and tell everyone else how to do their jobs, he gets cranky, he is stiff in the morning (boy this sounds more and more like my husband!) and most likely he will die doing what he loves, being outdoors, under God's watchful care. Ernest, if you recall, is the dog who refused to go with me yesterday morning to move the sheep.

Ernesto is definitely a family member. He got to kiss Sami when she came home from the hospital, just 3 days old! He patiently endured the pulling and hanging on by our kids when they were both toddlers, he has kept a silent, watchful eye over the kids as they have grown up, and he has been their sidekick through all sorts of adventures...I'm sure he knows a secret or two... They might not realize it, but I sure do! Sigh....I'm going off on a tangent. OK, back to working dogs.

We only have one other 'human' employee other than my husband and I (and our two kids). Ramon works full time, year-round. In addition to Ramon, we have 5 or 6 working dogs, which are also considered employees! Without them we would definitely be hurting. They have gone the distance to bring back stray animals that can be seen on the horizon, they help herd animals down the highway, they work in the corrals, and basically start their day at 6am and end about 6pm. They also get free housing, food, and the occasional 'free beef' or 'free lamb' as compensation.
Here is our list of McNab employees:
  • Ernesto (the Ranch Manager)
  • One Eyed Louie (he got kicked by a cow, and lost his eyesight in one eye)
  • Lefty (we used to call him little Lou, because he looks just like Louie, but it got too confusing)
  • Tubbies (Ernest's likeness; hard to tell if he is Dick's dog or Sami's dog)
  • Joe (not a worker, Jake's dog, and the one that helped chew on Goldie)
  • Miley (not a worker, name after Hannah Montana's character, and Sami's dog)
  • Maggie (the mom to 2 litters, Joe's sister, this is Sami's first dog, and Goldie's nemesis)
  • Annie (she doesn't work either - Sami's dog)
Sami is in charge of taking care of Maggie when she (Sami) and Dick agree that Ernest and Maggie are going to have puppies. When the puppies are born, she takes care of them, and raises them with the intent of selling them. As you can see from the list above, she falls in love with them and has a hard time selling them.

I'm glad that Ernest is the father of our puppies... Hint's of his personality and looks are throughout his puppies, and that will keep him with us for a very long time, and yes, after he is gone. I am having a hard time with 'the inevitable' in terms of Ernest's life. Have you read 'Marley and Me?'. Awesome book for for those of us that have a family member that just happens to be a dog!


Sandy said...

I just love your ranch stories, Andi!

*karendianne. said...

Well this post is one I'll savor 'cause I can really get into it. Let me say this. There are few things in life that give you a high on life as working as a team with a dog/horse doing what he was bred to do. It is simply that - a high. That's where "in the zone" moments rest. You have described this experience exquisitely and bring it full circle {as the universe intends} as you "allow" Sami the magical experience of breeding her own dogs. Ah! This is all huge. I get it. I dig this post!!! Now I'm high! !hee! Dog Rush Love, *karendianne.

Sue McGettigan said...

Ha ha, I wondered how you ended up with so many extra 'non-worker' Sami dogs on a farm :) I love working dogs, they are amazing.

Kerilou said...

I just loved hearing about your dogs! I grew up on a 5 generation dairy farm, and we had some wonderful cow dogs growing up. Daddy started out with border collies and then moved on to Australian Cattle dogs. Shortly after my parents sold the farm and moved, both dogs were lost..that is why I have my Australian cattle puppy, Brodie. Herding dogs are so much like people, I completely understand how you describe yours as ranch hands! Thank you for sharing, I have a big old soft spot for farm dogs! Keri

Dawn said...

First of all I love these stories. I guess your dogs are like the dogs in babe.

Do you have puppies now?? I just love the pics.
one eyed willie is soooo funny.

Dawn said...

First of all I love these stories. I guess your dogs are like the dogs in babe.

Do you have puppies now?? I just love the pics.
one eyed willie is soooo funny.