Farm Horizons, February 2012

Favorite farm dog stories

Dog story: a dog with a different bark

By Norman and Joell Duske, Montrose

In spring 1995, we got a golden Labrador puppy from our son, Brad. Norman decided to call the pup Ben.

Our grandchildren enjoyed playing with Ben, and he was always good to them.

Ben slept in a dog house outside our basement door. Each morning, Ben greeted Norman at the basement, with his tail wagging.

When Ben grew to be an adult dog, he became our watch dog. Ben had a different bark when he saw any of our cattle out of the fence. When we heard Ben’s bark – day or night – we knew we had to look where our cattle were out.

In winter 2010, Ben was getting slower, and we knew it would be hard for him to get through the winter.

We had our vet put Ben to sleep. We cried to know our faithful dog was no longer with us.

Norman wrapped Ben in a blanket and put him in the hay shed, until we could bury him in the spring.

We still haven’t tried to replace Ben.

Farm dogs work hard, play hard

By Alaina Otto

I’ve noticed one thing: farm dogs not only are indispensable to the daily workings of a farm, but they also add character to the place.

Personality is one thing that our two dogs have in great supply.

Kahlua (“Koolie”) has a heart of gold. She loves to play, but knows when it’s time to work. With one, “Koolie, go get ‘em!” she rushes off toward the barns, like a bat out of hell, looking for the animal that is out of place. She enjoys her job, but loves the farmers’ affection even more.

Bailey has more spirit than she knows what to do with. As she wags her tail, the motion travels through her hips and up her body, giving her a swagger as she walks. She shadows the farmers, always waiting to put her skills to the test.

Maybe it’s the border collie breeding in both dogs, or maybe it’s their never-ending energy, but Kahlua and Bailey love to chase. And they’ll chase anything. Bailey likes to work, Koolie likes to play. Bailey chases cows, Koolie chases plastic.

Years ago, we found that Kahlua goes nuts for any plastic container that she can chase through the gravel yard. Her favorite is an empty 1-gallon milk jug, with a few small rocks inside.

The game is simple, there are few rules, and she is happy to play with anyone. The nearest person locates the jug and picks it up by the handle, giving it a few shakes. Within seconds, Koolie appears, mesmerized by the sound beckoning her to begin the game. As the milk jug is held in the air, she leaps, much like a fish out of water, in order to knock the jug out of one’s hand. As soon as the toy is thrown or kicked, she is off.

Her short legs propel her towards her toy, which has landed with a thud on the ground. She nudges the now-flattened plastic jug along the ground until she can grip the handle in her teeth and return it for another throw.

The average lifespan for one milk jug is two days.

The beauty of this game is that it’s played year-round. In the spring, the jug is covered in a thin layer of mud; in the summer and fall, she chases it around the many pieces of farm equipment in the yard; and in the winter, the plastic slides on the ice and becomes camouflaged against the mounds of snow.

Occasionally there is a surprise twist. A jug filled with water slides less easily along the rock, and is more difficult for her to carry back, with the weighted bottom of the jug dragging along the ground.

While this is primarily Kahlua’s game, Bailey enjoys playing, as well. Kahlua chases the milk jug, Bailey chases Kahlua.

This game could be played from sunrise to sunset – with breaks only to stop and see what’s happening in the barn – and both dogs would continue to enjoy their happy, farm dog lives.

Farm dogs make good friends

By Rose Ann Motzko

My German Shepherd “Skippy:” Got him from a litter of eight; he was not accustomed to being tied, and I surrounded his house with straw bales.

During the night, he was busy and chewed a bale to make his way out. In the morning at minus 20 below, I found him sitting on top of his house. I could have lost that fuzzy little black bundle.

Some of the things he would do was bring a ball or other objects back to me. He would jump onto the picnic table and from there jump through a hoop. He would also wait patiently while I took his picture.

Also, he would weave in and out through a hoop when it was held. The exceptional thing he did was on a spring morning, I went to the mailbox which was by a small puddle of water in the field and a newspaper blew into it.

I said, “Skippy, get the paper.” He just looked at me and I said again, “Skippy, get the paper.”

He went into the water and got it and brought it to me. Of course, I didn’t have a camera along.

Skippy turned out to be a good friend and went to doggy heaven at age thirteen.

Share your favorite dog story

Dogs are not only a man’s best friends, but they are often hard-working companions when it comes to the daily operations of a farm.

Do you have a funny or sentimental story about your farm dog? If so, the Farm Horizons wants to hear your story to be published in a future edition.

It can be humourous, sentimental, or just fondly recalling a great dog that was enjoyable to have around. Pictures are also encouraged (jpeg format).

Stories can be sent to or mailed to PO Box 129, Winsted, MN 55395.

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