Sunday, January 02, 2011
Ode to a sheep dog and a friend...
What do you say 'bout a friend who's been with you
Fourteen years on the range?
Herding sheep and nippin' cows
And working side by side all her days?
Jessie was her name, but we called her Jess
There's an unwritten rule 'bout ranch dogs
That says they only need one syllable for a name
Unless they're in trouble with The Boss.
Then the name changes back to full-length
And a few "blue words" come out too.
It's not meant to be rough, bad-mannered or unkind
But just helps the dog "come to."
Jess helped me raise our five young kids,
She followed them everywhere
So all I had to do was yell her name
And she'd bring them home then and there.
She'd fetch a stick, a snowball, or a rock ~
Whatever you happened to have on you
I never saw a dog catch a Frisbee like her,
She'd dive in the pond to get it for you.
Jess had a litter of pups when she was nine
Three females, Liz, Merv, and Sue.
We kept Sue and gave the others away
It was fun watching her mother her brood.
Jess walked with me almost every day
Up to the mail box and back,
Or out in The Woods where we'd scare up birds
Jackrabbits, deer or rac's.
But her favorite thing of all was to help at lambing time
She'd stay in the sheep shed all day
Guarding the gate, nipping at ewes,
Or licking a bum lamb's face.
She liked to take sheep out to new pasture
It was hard to make her see things left-handed
She took the right, and you took the left,
How could she be any more candid?
We did things her way on many a day
It seemed she just knew what to do
A lamb would run off and we were sure we'd lost it
But Jess took off would run, nearly flew!
She would knock the lamb down and roll it around
And she'd pin that lamb down and wait for you.
She loved a good pat and she always sat
On the rug by the kitchen door
Content to be there since we were there
Why would she want any more?
The Littles always loved her and wanted to hug her
And sit right down on her and play.
She never minded, no dog could be kinder
And patient with wee ones all day.
As she got older, Old Jess's eyes, they got dimmer
And her hearing wasn't much good
But her ears would perk up when she felt the rumble of the truck
In the spring going up to the shed.
Spring always gave Jess a new lease on life
There were just some things that made her life full:
Lambs loudly bleating, pushing sheep up the alley,
Or barking behind old bulls.
We're gonna miss our old friend
On the tailgate end
Of the truck when we are lambin'
But we'll think of her then and and know in our hearts
That she's out herding sheep in Dog Heaven.
Good-bye old Girl.