The stock trailer backs up to a a row of make shift dog houses, and chained to them, eight frothing at the mouth barking dogs. Straining at their restraints in eager anticipation of a days work, these are the muscle bound dogs cowboys call catch or head dogs. Now these ain’t no pot lickin’ porch dogs, these are workin’ dogs, Pit Bull, Catahoula, and bird dog varieties specially cross bred for aggression, size, and stamina. Their one and only purpose is to round up cattle, an often gruesome, bloody, and exhausting battle of rigorous team work. Sometimes these dogs are fitted with armor to protect their neck and chest from injury during their relentless pursuit of fleeing cattle.
The dogs are loaded in the trailer, and the cowboys are saddled up before the sun shows the slightest hint of morning. They head for the meadows where the cattle are grazing, the cowmen an’ their dog’s day begins. At the first sign of their presence, the cattle scatter, and run for cover to the nearest stand of trees. The calves hurrying behind, their instinct for survival, rudely compromised.
The dogs are in a frenzy of anticipation awaiting the trailer door to open, even more-so, the words that set them free to do their job. Suddenly their moment arrives, the trailer door opens, and they are commanded to “Get’em!”
The cattle are chased from the trees by these catch dogs, causing the cows to instinctively bunch together for protection. Their heads facing to the outside, and the calves securely in the middle of the herd. The dogs will run circles around the herd in order to keep them in the round, but a few will dare to make a dash for the trees. The dogs will attack them by grabbing the ears, often shredding them. Sometimes a cow will be taken down, literally, as these dogs bite them with such fierce they’ll actually do a full circle flip while running.
Cattle always run back to the herd, once they are all secured in the round, the cowboys take over and move the cattle to the catch pen. While the cattle is being moved, it’s time to start ropin’ the dogs before they wander off looking for cattle away from their designated section.
Cowboys an’ their dogs… team work for a job well done.
amy elizabeth, TBN Ranch