A Cowgal's Story: Helping Hands

Helping Hands

Newt nipping at cow-calf pairs on the road (photo by Sheila Carlson)

I do a lot of my work here on the ranch out on my own; when gathering or moving cattle, my dogs are like having another “hand” along.

They can bring cattle over to join the herd that’s already been gathered.

They will stay at the back of the herd while driving the cattle from pasture to pasture.

They’re careful to not let any sneaky cow get away.

They will go to the front of the herd to stop them if I need them to.

There are some ranches that no longer allow their cowhands to use dogs, because too many are ill-mannered or will chase the livestock, causing wrecks and extra work.

I admit – I’m pretty picky about dogs when it comes to just anyone bringing their’s along. To my thinking, dogs need to work cattle similarly to how we do: slowly, quietly, and not aggressively (unless asked for). And they have to listen. There’s nothing more frustrating than someone’s dog locking on and chasing a cow/steer/heifer/bull until the only escape is either over or through the fence.

Ruby pointing (photo by Sheila Carlson)

I use border collies. I like to build a working knowledge with their natural instincts, which I feel helps them build their confidence. Plus, they have so much heart and they really enjoy the work! I don’t know where I’d be without them.

My dogs, Pippa, Newt, and Ruby, are not only good working partners but are like family to me. And they’re so smart, I think if they ever learn to fix fence or open gates, I might be out of a job!