“Cow Dog,” defined


You all know this about me, but I grew up with dogs who slept in barns and garages, on hay bales and under heat lamps. They were the first to go into the brush after a wayward, ornery bull and the first to be there to lick your face and give you a nudge when you fell of your bike and skinned your knee.

They were cow dogs. Working dogs. Partners.

They chased field mice, got in fights with raccoons, rolled in cow poop, howled with the coyotes and rode in the back of pickups.


In various stages of my life out here we had a border collie, a blue heeler, a kelpie, an Australian shepherd and mix of a few.

This place is hard on dogs it’s wild and dangerous and full of just the kind of trouble that makes life worth living of dogs like these, so, unfortunately, some of our beloved canines, due to snake bite or bull fight, didn’t make it to old age. 

But regardless, I am almost certain they had the best lives for them out here. They were made for this place, as tough as the ground they run across.


As a kid I knew inside dogs existed, I just didn’t know anyone who had one. I knew there were dogs who wore sweaters and had their own place on couches, but, it was like how I knew a million dollars existed somewhere, it knew it was true, I’d just never seen it.

In a few weeks, Husband and I are going to bring home our first real cow dog. I am so excited I’m counting down the days.

Here he is on the bottom, left side of the pile.

I’d tell you his name, but, well, last night we had a lengthy discussion on that topic that I won’t get into, but it got pretty heated. Good thing we have a some time to get this all worked out.

Anyway, I was thinking about this little guy and how he’s going to change the make-up of this place. And how his makeup: border collie, heeler, kelpie, Australian shepherd and Catahoula, is the make-up of all of the best cow dogs a girl could ever ask for…

And how he’s the same animal as that big brown dog laying out in the garage, snoring away a rainy October day, but how they might as well be a different species.

Lab in stock tank

The biggest difference? With a cow dog in the family standing guard in the yard, a herd of cattle will find it pretty hard to stand and chew cud on my new concrete patio.

Because labs, frankly, don’t give a shit.


And I need something out here to give a shit.

I need my little cow dog.

I can’t wait!

So in honor of Throwback Thursday I found this little gem: a declaration I made when I was 8 or so that used to hang on my grandmother’s fridge, ready to tug at the heart strings of all of the ranchers stopping by for coffee with a blue heeler-cross waiting for him in the bed of his feed pickup…and, well, to put the wayward city slicker in his place…

Country dog:city dogAs you can see, I was pretty passionate…

I promise to never put you in a sweater little guy.

But you might have a place on the couch…just for a little while…


17 thoughts on ““Cow Dog,” defined

  1. OMG that is one cute baby! I didn’t grow up on a farm but I have a little farm house, which was moved to a residential neighborhood 40 years ago, and a border collie and an Australian shepherd. And, I would venture to say you are totally right about them being happy out there. I’ve gotten to the point where I want to buy a lot of property and sheep…just for the dogs, lol:)

  2. All of your dogs are so beautiful, but I have a special place in my heart for Aussie’s they are the most loyal care dogs ever. We have had 2 now and are thing of adding another. Thanks for sharing.


  3. Awesome story and what a cute addition! Our Blue will be 11 in November. He’s a heeler, collie, catahoula cross and has been the most loyal, hardworking, best friend we could have. Wish we could keep him forever. Look forward to seeing your new “hand” grow through your website pictures!

  4. Aaahh! What a sweet little pup! I hope he has a long and happy life. I believe in good hard working ranch dogs. But, as a city girl gone country, I have to have my two little house dogs. And two big dogs. We have a discussion when they all roll in cow poop, horse poop and whatever. Especially dead things! Ugh! Gotta love them though and I know you will love your new companion too. 🙂

  5. We had an English Shepherd named Pudge. Our premo Aussie was named Rufus, we called him Roo for short, and he lived to be 18. Now we have a Lab/Aussie cross marked like an Aussie, shaped like a 60 lb. Newfy – no good for anything except being the sweetest dog in the world.

  6. The Kelpie is what caught my eye. We have a Kelpie Border Collie Mix as a part of our family – only we don’t live on a farm. We live on a boat – a 40 foot catamaran in fact – and our cattle dog has taken quite well to becoming a boat dog. She herds sea lions off the dock and goes toe to toe with sea otters. She is the spitting image of the Kelpie on your blog – they could possibly be related.

  7. Hi! Stumbled on your blog via a google image search. Looking for photos of a mix like ours. He came from a shelter adjacent to a ranching community in AZ. Is the dog in your second photo a kelpie mix? If so, what mix? We think he is a kelpie/aussie mix, but aren’t sure. Thanks! I’m not sure how to post a photo, but they look so alike!

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