I’ve been thinking about a dog I had when I was a teenager. We called her Sooty because of her smoky coloring. She was a little dingo, a cow dog with no tail. I’ve never had a dog who was smarter or who had more try. I loved that dog more than any other I’ve had. (Sorry, Riley.)
This little upstart had more cow in her than a cow. She could read your thoughts from a hundred yards away. She knew exactly where you wanted cattle to go, just by a nod or a wag of the hand. We hardly had to train her to do anything. I remember lightly touching the side of the pickup truck and bang! she was in the bed of the truck, ready to go. Nobody had to teach her to do it. She just knew what you meant.
And she was so happy to see you when you came out the door. She always put me in a better mood because she was such a genuine dog.
Then came a fateful day. It was in the fall of 1974. I was working in a pasture on the ranch, pushing slash piles (old tree branches) together to burn, with a Caterpillar D6C tractor. All of a sudden, the tractor hesitated long enough for Sooty to jump into the cab with me! She had been just waiting for the chance to bound up and say hi. Well, it scared me. I was afraid she would get hurt, so I yelled at her and told her to get off the tractor and get way. She was liable to get killed doing what she did.
That was the last time I ever saw her. After that incident on the D6, she disappeared. She never came back. I thought I might have run over her accidentally, so that evening I searched and searched the pasture, the slash piles, my tread marks. Nothing. My once in a lifetime dog had vanished into thin air.
That was 34 years ago, and I’ve never been able to shake it. She was sensitive and I sent the wrong message. I was upset with her (I think that was the first time I had ever really yelled at her) because I was afraid she might get hurt. She took it hard, and was gone.
Be kind to those you love. Make sure they know what you really mean, that when you get upset sometimes it’s only because you really care. If you don’t, they might disappear, and decades later, you’ll still ache to have them back.