ROWE’S COMMANCHE WARRIOR

an interview with Jerry Rowe by Terry Martin


commanche_sit_forwebOne of the early successful trial dogs in A.S.C.A.’s trial history was Jerry Rowe’s Commanche. Jerry and his dog were at the first A.S.C.A. sanctioned trial, and Commanche was one of the first dogs trialing with any training at all. That was back in the days when trials were pretty wild and western, and most of us had hardly figured out how to “down” the dog much less think about sending him in a particular direction.

The very few dogs who really had some training were an inspiration during those early stages. These were the forerunners of today’s advanced dogs. Their impact on the breed and our program is through both their genes and because their owners were pioneers in our program. Jerry was part of the original Stockdog Committee and was very active helping people with all breeds in the Stockdog Fanciers of Colorado organization in his area.

I personally remember Commanche as one of the first A.S.C.A. trial dogs showing us how an Aussie can work with control and finesse on sheep. Rowe’s Commanche Warrior was sired by Sorensen’s Gunsmoke and was out of Van Gorden’s Blue Astra. He was whelped April 12,1966 , and died April 16, 1983 . His owners were Jerry and Sharon Rowe of J Bar D Aussies. I asked Jerry for some thoughts on his old dog in his own words, and the following is from Jerry. –Terry Martin
It’s always hard to try and remember some of the best things about a dog who would do about anything you asked him to.

I guess you could say “Bum” liked working cattle best. I remember the time he learned not to bark around mama cows and calves. We were gathering cattle off Cottonwood Pass above Gypsum, Colorado — about a ten-mile drive. We were about half way when the calves were getting pretty tired and were lagging behind most of the cows,
commanche_sheep_forweb
trying to stop. Old Bum was behind the horses, where he belonged, when a calf took off for the creek. I told Bum to get him. Bum was ready and took the calf, but just as he heeled the calf, he let out a real deep “ruff”. Guess what? Every mama cow in hearing distance turned to find their calves. They spotted old Bum bringing the calf, and the wreck was on.

We lost about ten cows and some calves as they chased old Bum back up the pass. There was no stopping them. We couldn’t stop and look for him, so we kept going. About a half an hour later here came old Bum down off the mountain, across the creek and fell right in behind my horse. Bum never barked at a cow again.

He loved to work the chutes when doctoring cows. He would keep the chute full easier than four men could.

Commanche was mostly a driving dog. I found out the hard way in California . I drove all the way to Bob Carrillo’s place for a sheepdog trial, a kind of Border Collie course. I sat and watched those good Collies of Lester Brean’s make those wide outruns. I said old Bum can do that. The trouble was, I didn’t tell Bum. Our turn came, we walked out in the middle and I sent Bum on an outrun. Guess what? He gathered the sheep up and drove them about two miles over two hills, through three fences, to the neighbor’s corrals. I had a helluva time getting him back. Looked like we needed to talk!

Bum didn’t like ducks very well. He would work them all right, but he wouldn’t look at
commanche_ducks_forwebthem. He’d just go and do what I told him to. We used to raise about 300 chicks every spring, and Bum liked to gather them out of the orchard when it would rain. He would go out and drive them to my chicken house. We had little doors with ramps, and some would go under the ramp instead of up it. Bum would pick them up and put them in the door; never hurt a one.

When it came to horses, there was none better. He could load the worst and never had any horse that would run from you in the pasture more than once. They learned if you didn’t run, old Bum would leave you alone. Run and he would eat you up. He loved to tail swing on a running horse; he didn’t get kicked too often.

I’ll bet you’re wondering how he got the nickname “Bum”. He had a very big territory he had to mark every day, about two miles around. Some of his territory was subdivided one year and people moved in. One day he didn’t come home. I found him in the pound (that’s progress, I guess). They said he was in a car and wouldn’t let the owners in. It was a car the same kind and color as ours, so we called him Bummer from then on.
commanche_people_forwebBum did pretty good in obedience. One time at a match he was doing real good; I mean damned near perfect, til we got to the down stay. I put him on a down stay and went across the room. While I was waiting I decided to have a chew. I reached for my chew that was in my shirt pocket, and Bum thought it was a come signal. He came about ten feet, looked at the other dogs and knew something was wrong because they weren’t coming. He just dropped his head and laid down. Almost made a man stop chewing.

In the conformation ring we really were a team. We didn’t do too bad in the early days, as long as we didn’t have to clean up too much. We would run around in that circle trying not to stomp on somebody. Bum was loud, and I was mostly confused, but we won some trophies anyway.

But just being at home helping where he could, which was considerable, is where old Bum did best. You could cuss him, and he was still your friend; praise him and he didn’t get the big head. I sure do miss him. I guess you’re lucky if you get one like him in a lifetime. He died from lung cancer .

this article was first published in the January-February 1993 issue of Aussie Times