B J was a dog. I have no clue as to his breeding other than he had some Kelpie markings, but he was much larger than any Kelpie I had ever seen. He was large, leggy, not very athletic, but very forceful with his actions. He came to me by way of Andy Prude. Andy said, “take him and let him work with your dogs, just use him and don’t worry about training him, I just want him to be exposed to some cattle and a work routine, I am so busy right now, I don’t have time to take him.”
We were busy working lots of cattle on 5 different ranches and he was certainly welcome if he could fit in our schedule, I told Andy that we were very busy and he was welcome, but I couldn’t guarantee anything. That was just what Andy wanted, so we loaded B J.
B J got very comfortable with the dog crew and fit in very well. He was young and very willing to be a member of the pack. I got to where I hauled him everywhere I went, even if I wasn’t on a planned cow work. He was very comfortable with my daily routine, which included everything from checking waters in a pasture to feeding a couple of Mountain Lions in a cage on the ranch. Another story for sure, as we had to kill 2 Aoudad every week to feed the lions. Our schedule was certainly full of excitement and we stayed together, he was always with me, but never in the way or a problem. I was amazed how comfortable we got working together. We needed some Aoudad meat for the lions and I had spotted some Aoudad coming home from checking waterings. Bill Miller was with me and we decided to see where they were going to bed down and then come back the next morning and get a couple for the mountain lions. It was late evening and we just wanted to see where they were going to bed down. We were climbing up a hill to a saddle, so we could peek over with out being noticed. Before we got to the spot we wanted to peek over, all of a sudden here came all of the Aoudad in one solid herd, in a high trot, and Bill and I split the herd, some going on each side of us. We didn’t know what was going on but we shot two before they all ran by us. We were looking at each other trying to figure out what was going on, when out attention was diverted to some movement coming over the saddle……….It was B J and he was standing in the middle of the saddle with a look on his face, that was full of expression as if to say, is that all you need. I had never missed him while we were climbing the hill to the saddle. Still amazes me how it all happened and what made B J tick.
The next few weeks we were gathering cattle and had some remnant that we couldn’t haul, but planned to come back later. We did come back but the corrals that we planned to use were full of cattle as it was the neighbors corrals but the neighbors said we could use the corrals just as soon as they got them empty, which wouldn’t be much longer. We waited but we got a little antsy and tired of waiting. I said let’s see if we can load these cows in the trailer without putting them in the corrals. My boss said, might as well. He had been around B J and lots of dogs working cattle, but never loading cattle in the pasture in the trailer. I wasn’t too sure about the outcome either as all I had was B J , but how could we go wrong, time was in our favor and we had plenty of trailer. Well it took a spell for B J to figure out what we were doing, but once he saw the plan, he was dead on and we loaded the little darlings like we had a loading chute, all except one baby, baby calf that didn’t like the jump and walked under the gate I was holding and got by me headed down the trailer to the front of the trailer looking for mamma, thinking she was coming out the other end. B J was all over it and turned the calf back and brought the calf to me. It took a little time for the calf to realize the jump up into the dark trailer was a better option than me and B J. I couldn’t believe how well B J accepted the age of the calf and never took advantage of the calf. We put the horses in behind the cattle and headed home. Another chapter in the book “Amazing B J “……..
We had plenty of reasons to use the dogs and they didn’t get much time off. We had moved some young heifers up to the top of Chianti Peak, certainly rough for cow country, but the heifers were young and had never been in any other kind of country. Wasn’t any big deal for them. We had acquired four black bulls with some ear and a little hump, they were a little trotty but we spent plenty of dog time with them and they became very respectful. We thought this would be the perfect match for the heifers on Chianti. First chance we had me and the dog crew moved them to the top with the heifers. I was taking protein blocks to the heifers twice a week, so I could check on the bulls soon. I hauled my mules and the protein blocks to the corner of the pasture where the trail starts to go up Chianti. I gave all the dogs the day off except B J and a new dog named Molly and I had them loaded with the mules and blocks. When we pulled up to the gate where the road ended and the trail to the top started, there were all four bulls with their head hanging over the gate ready to go back home, where they came from. I immediately started thinking of how I was going to navigate this situation. By the time I got all the mules packed with protein blocks, I had decided to take it one chore at a time. Wasn’t sure how long we would be with the blocks, but sounded best to go deliver the blocks and see from there what looked the best. I got the pack mules all through the gate and headed up the trail, the bulls were looking at me like aren’t you going to leave it open so we can go home..?? I got the pack mules headed up the trail and looked back to see if my new dog was following yet………and there was B J looking at me like what are you going to do with the bulls……..????? I said, “Alright Walk Them Up”. That was all it took and B J was around them in a flash and we were headed up the mountain. Molly was makin’ a hand also. I thought well this will be a sight if we make it to the top with this crew. The trail was used but in need of repair in places and it crossed some old fence that made it difficult for all the livestock to stay on the trail and on the right side of the fence. The dogs didn’t like it when their bulls got separated and on different sides of the fence, but they patiently worked them back together and all on the trail. I was a plenty proud cowboy ridin’ a big stout mule and leading five more mules loaded with protein blocks all head and tailed. and four black crossbred bulls following the mules single file up the trail, with two dogs right in the perfect position to be in charge. We made it to the heifers at the feed ground right on schedule and the heifers were glad to see the blocks, maybe not so much me and the bulls. We got the mules unloaded and I was one happy cowboy as we rode off watching the heifers and bulls all enjoying their protein blocks. The bulls never left the cows again and it turned our to be a successful venture.
I ran into Andy and asked him if he was ready for me to bring B J home and he said no not if he was getting along. I told him this outfit might fold if B J leaves.
We rocked along from one day to the next, enjoying each other with out a problem one. We were feeding protein blocks one day in a small Toyota pick-up. B J loved to ride in the back and keep an eye on things. We were bumping along on a rough ranch road in Pinto Canyon with a load of protein blocks. I heard a yelp and I stopped to see what it was. B J had fallen out of the pick-up bed and landed twisted under the pick-up and I ran over his head with the rear wheel. He was dead nearly instantly. I haven’t found the words to explain my feelings, but I know he is in good hands now and making a hand, hope we get to work together again….!!!!
Leave a comment