Journal Relationships

Ode To The Ranch Dog

Ode To The Ranch Dog www.herviewfromhome.com
Written by Leah Peterson

Under the twinkling lights of a Christmas Eve, you found your new home on the prairie.

You had the softest black eyes, the thickest of coal black hair, and a stub of a tail that wriggled in anticipation of all the days to come. “Eve” we called you, and it was a name so fitting.

On the “Eve” of so many occasions, you were there.

You were there amidst the hustle and bustle of oh so many holidays. Trimming the tree, baking the cakes, frantically cleaning and organizing and preparing for the gatherings and celebrations. You always wriggled in anticipation of the arrival of company and friendly hands that would pet. Many times you were overcome with excitement to the point of obnoxious barking and howling. “Shut up, Eve” was sometimes the only effective way to quiet you.

Ode To The Ranch Dog   www.herviewfromhome.com

You were there every morning when the ranchers of the place exited the house to chase the sun. Waiting oh so patiently for a friendly pat before sending the cowboys and cowgirls off to tag calves, or do the feeding, or bale hay before the dew dried. Sometimes you were invited along, wriggling all the way to that comfy spot on the back of the pickup bed.

You were there on the biggest ranching days of the year. That first Saturday in May when pickups and trailers arrive in droves, and the cowboys and cowgirls and horses and dogs work together to round up and work the calves. Those days were always a favorite, because of the extra hands that would pet, and the scraps of food shared after the work was done. You were there when the pairs returned in the fall, and were weaned, and the cows preg checked toward winter. You never missed an important day.

You were there…until you weren’t.

And the day we said goodbye, 13 years of memories ran across your frail old body in shades of gray. Oh, how you knew how hard the ranching business could be. Those soft eyes never missed in assessing the start of each new day. Your listening ears never failed to alert you to what was going on. All those years, you stood by, knowing the good, bad, and ugly of this life.

You saw us come and go, in blue jeans and coveralls, and in the finest suits and dresses. You watched us return, sometimes with a spring in our step, or trudge up the walk, tired and dirty. Almost always, there was a pat or greeting for you, even on the worst days. But, not always. For that, I am sorry.

You were there when shouts of jubilation rang out over engagements, and pregnancy announcements, and new jobs, and joyous births and wonderful calf crops and successful harvests. You were there when we drove in with girlfriends or boyfriends, and new spouses, and new babies, and new friends. You never missed a thing.

And you were there…when the doors slammed in anger and frustration. When we all took turns crying out to God in pain and fear and sorrow. Many times. Sometimes…too many times. Two years in particular come to mind, when many a person buried their face in your fur to cry, or simply steal you away to go for a long walk or drive and talk to God. You were always good at that. The older you got, I realized God hadn’t created you to be the best at herding cattle, but instead, helping mend the hurting heart.

Precious Eve, the 13 years you gave were all the best of you. It’s no small thing, what you did. Often thankless, never glamorous…but you were always there for us. I wonder what this world would be like, could we always give the best of ourselves each and every day.

You and furry friends across our land have been there for generations and generations, standing guard over the families and farms and ranches that you were created to love and care for. Something tells me, that when you said your goodnight to earth and good morning to Heaven, God was ready and waiting with another job for you.

Ode To The Ranch Dog   www.herviewfromhome.com

We took you to your spot on that side hill, claiming space next to the 4-legged friends who have come and gone these many years. That special place, where the sun shines through the cottonwoods, and stands cool under summer’s glare. A place where you will never be forgotten.

You will always remind us, that this is our “Eve” before heaven.

Thank you, our furry and faithful friend.  We will never forget you.

RIP “Eve” Cooksley. 2003-2016

 

About the author

Leah Peterson

Leah Peterson is a native Nebraskan, living on the ranch her ancestors homesteaded in 1878. She and her husband Matt, met at the University of Nebraska Lincoln, and returned to the ranch in 2012 after working and living in Central Nebraska the past 12 years. They are parents to two daughters, Maggie and Lucy. Leah has an undergrad degree from UNL in Communication Studies, and a MA in Leadership from Bellevue University. Aside from her work at the ranch and opportunity to be a stay at home mom, she enjoys writing, photography, community involvement, spending time with friends and family and trying new recipes in her kitchen. Leah published her first children’s book in 2011 titled “An Apple for Dapple” and enjoys traveling throughout the state to share her book with children and raise awareness about the importance Agriculture in Nebraska.

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