Monday, February 23, 2009

Coco the Faithful

Coco was a border collie in training. She showed promise as a stock dog, being both obedient and willing to grip, a term that means nipping the heels of livestock on command. Some dogs won't do it.

The ice storm was one that most folks don't forget. All the roads and sidewalks were solid, slippery ice for over two weeks.

During that two weeks I stayed at home and minded the stock, there being very little for me to do at work, since very few customers were showing up.

Now it just so happened that there was a very deep dip leading to the door of the barn. I carried a sharp stick for digging into the ice, and I wore knobby boots. Even so the going was difficult.

The dog had less trouble walking on the ice than I did. She seemed almost to enjoy taking her daily run on it.

It was a good thing that day her daily run coincided with my getting stuck by the barn. That tiny bit of a hill had gotten so slick that with my stick, my boots, and all my knowledge, I could not get up it. I even tried to crawl up it on my hands and knees. It was very short, and I could touch the level ground on top with my hand if I reached, but it was to no avail. I was stuck.

I called Coco. One of the commands she'd learned was "walk on." To those of you not familiar, it means approach the stock. It's sort of like "mush" to a sled dog. I held her collar and said, "Walk on!" She ran, and I held onto her while crawling alongside. With her help I reached the top, up and out. I ran to the house and got a hammer, and roughed up that ice so I would not get stuck again.

Coco, if there's a heaven for dogs and you can hear me, God bless you.

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