My kids love to look at pictures, and often times I find them sitting next to the bookshelf with photo albums in their laps. One of my kids observed that our dog, Boone, is in almost every outdoor picture that we have. Sometimes he's up close, and other times he's off in the background. But no matter where the picture is taken, he's always nearby. Looking for Boone is like a game to them.
|A young Boone riding with me to change irrigation.|
When you have an animal that literally works with you every day, you become really attached. Boone is a part of our family and we have the pictures to prove it. Our bond together goes beyond that of ordinary dogs and owners. I could fill the pages of books with our countless adventures. He's been at my heels from the time he was a young pup, and he's traveled countless miles with me and my horse to gather cattle. We're quite a team!
|Boone working to gather the stray pairs.|
I know that the years of ranch work have taken their toll on his old body, and he's paying for it now. Every time I see him crippled up and hobbling around on his arthritic bones, I wince. But then I remember the extraordinary life he's lived, and I'm certain that he wouldn't have traded the last 14 years for anything!
Three years ago, Boone's health started to decline and he quit eating. We thought we were going to lose him. He had 4 cancerous tumors growing on his body. It was weeks away from Christmas, and the vet said that he was an old dog and the $800.00 surgery to remove the tumors might only buy him an extra 6 months with us. Every member of my family agreed that it was worth it if it meant a little more time spent with Boone. That Christmas was one of the slender years in terms of gifts, but no-one gave it a second thought because we still had our dog with us. And he's still alive and kickin' three years later! That just proves that you can't keep a good dog down.
|Boone checking pastures with me and my brother.|
He still follows me around everywhere, and even as I type this today, he's laying at my feet. When I had babies, he became so protective of them that he would stand guard next to whoever was holding them. When I put them down for naps, he would lay across the threshold of their nursery door, and be the first to greet them when they woke up. He was ever so careful with them as they toddled around the house, and never got cross with them when they pulled his ears, grabbed his stub tail, or tried to ride him. He's been a gentlemen for 14 years.
|Boone is helping to take the herd to summer pasture.|
I just know that if Boone could talk, he'd look me in the eyes and quote the dying words of Gus McRae from Lonesome Dove:
"By God, Woodrow; it's been one hell of a party!"