THE COW FROM HELL
by Rhonda Falk
Star Rt. A, Box 736-A
Atmore, AL 36502
My first Aussies were Falk’s Falkland Banjo and Sheba. Banjo (Joe) is a National Stockdog Second Step although he had several generations registered with the Animal Research Foundation. Sheba is a small (16″, 24 pound), Aussie mix, with a natural bob tail, that we rescued from the pound.
I got Banjo at twelve or fourteen weeks of age, and he still had a super long tail. The other pups had parts or pieces of tails or none at all. The veterinarian I worked for joked that Banjo got what the rest didn’t. We docked his tail and had to restitch it several times, finally super-gluing it.
I remember once when we were at the clinic cleaning up and giving medication on a hot July Sunday when Chuck, the veterinarian I work for, and his friend Sam came up from trying to drive this crazy cow from the five-acre pasture into the holding pens. That cow was the one doing the driving. She was chasing them around and around several small pine trees, doing her best to give them a good feel of her nice-sized horns. Finally, they came back to the clinic and asked if I thought Banjo could move her. I had no idea. The only cow he’d seen was a bottle calf we were feeding at the clinic. The calf refused to return to the lot after feeding, so Banjo would get her moving, heeling low, avoiding her kicks like a pro.
Anyway, we took Joe out, and he tried everything to move that cow. He’d heel her and he’d pop her on the nose, dancing just out of horn’s reach. He’d turn her around and around and, if it hadn’t been so hot, he probably would’ve started her on her way. Anyway, I told everyone to hold on, I’d be back in fifteen minutes. I wet Joe down to cool him off and headed home. I loaded Sheba and Rustler, our one-year-old red merle, and Chancey, also one year old, and my husband Tommy.
We headed for the clinic. I unloaded the dogs and started for the cow. One problem — Chuck and Sam didn’t want me out of the back of the truck, so my husband Tommy tried to direct the dogs. They kept coming back to me. Finally I climbed down and headed for a wood and brush pile and started the dogs on her. First she tried hooking, kicking and stomping the dogs, but they were too fast, and that natural herding instinct was still there. They got her moving, but she spotted my husband and took off chasing him across the pasture, the dogs in hot pursuit. Tommy got to the tree about the time the dogs turned the cow.
Then she saw me, and where are the dogs, nowhere to be seen. She headed for me head down, at full speed, with everybody screaming, “Run!” I started through and over the brush pile, screaming for Joe. About that time, over the top of the brushpile flew Banjo, landing right in front of the cow. Sheba, Rustler and Chancey converged on all sides of her, and off into the corner they all went.
We decided then that if the dogs could hold her in the corner long enough, we would put up panels around her and back the trailer in at the far end. It was funny. The dogs took turns holding the cow facing them in that corner. They were putting up the last panel when the dogs just kinda backed off and, believe it or not, looked like they were making a decision, and that’s what they did.
I screamed, “Get out of there, they’re fixing to load her.” Load her up they did. Banjo and Sheba on her head and tail, and Chancey and Rustler on either side. They put her in so fast I couldn’t get over to the truck in time to close the gate. She wheeled out of the trailer and her feet had no more than hit the ground then they loaded her again. This time we got the gate closed.
One problem — Sheba went in with her, and Sheba knew she wanted out. Banjo and I ran to the front of the trailer, Banjo trying to reach her through the rail, me beating on the side. It worked. She charged us, and Sam let Sheba out.
Sheba and Banjo rode the side of the trailer all the way to the road like they were showing off a trophy. Please remember that none of the dogs had any training.
Since then we have purchased several dogs from some of the better-known working kennels and also have a smalll herd of sheep and some ducks. We plan to purchase a few cows soon.
We’re just starting to trial and hope to see everyone there. Also, we still have Banjo, Sheba and Chancey. Mr. & Mrs. Joel Lambert own a Banjo x Chancey pup (Windsor STDsdc).
To all the folks just starting out: don’t give up, keep trying, you’ll get there.
this article was originally published in the January/February 1995 issue of Aussie Times (© Australian Shepherd Club of America)