Catch Dogs, One Story

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

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About tbnranch

amy elizabeth, writer, author. Lives in the northeastern reaches of the Sonoran Desert on a small hobby farm. Raises laying hens.
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14 Responses to Catch Dogs, One Story

  1. Bassas Blog says:

    A bit different from my day!

  2. Kate Kresse says:

    Dang Amy Elizabeth—i just love your blog. I grew up in small towns and big towns. But I always wanted to be a farm or ranch girl. So I get a vicarious thrill reading about your experiences. Your writing and poetry light up my day. For this reason I am giving you the award I created for life brightening blogs. It is The Candle Lighter Award. Here is the link for it. http://believeanyway.wordpress.com/the-candle-lighter-award/
    Have a great, great day.

  3. tbnranch says:

    Yes, thank you, I forgot to include the importance and use of whips. Just a bit of trivia, did you know the whip is the number one selling piece of equipment in the horse industry? These dogs are also used in wild boar hunting… thanks for the idea on another post! Good seeing you here.

  4. Here in Floirida ( 2nd largest cattle producer in the nation, no brag just fact) We don’t have the tall open grassy plains or even much wooded tree lines for our cattle to move about in as they run for shelter. We have instead the dang palmetto jungle with some craggy assed pines covered in poison Ivy and tunneled game trails populated with mean assed wild boars. The cattle here still need to be herded out of this perfect cattle protected area in order to get to market etc. So the age old method to accomplish this is not the relying on animals to assist in herding but the sound of a cracking whip. That’s why our cowboys are called “Crackers”. Cattle fear that sound more than anything and it’s about the only thing that will get them doggies to leave the safety of the palmetto’s.
    I always enjoy your tales, they make for a good read. Keep on writin’ an’ I’ll keep on readin’.

  5. Bongo says:

    Great writing. You made the story exciting and I learned things about working dogs that I didn’t know before.

  6. Rita A. says:

    Wow. That Catahoula looks just like our Maggie who never worked a day in her life. She is the most gentle dog I’ve ever known. She was a rescue dog from the Humane Society so makes you wonder what her life might have been like.
    Don’t see much about Catahoula’s. Thank you for sharing.

    • tbnranch says:

      The Catahoula is a well respected dog in the ranching world, useful, and brave!

      • Rita A. says:

        Oops. That was supposed to be she IS the most gentle dog I have every known. Geez. Teach me to not proof my comments. She really is amazing and keeps my back warm every night. I have never seen her growl or snarl even at the Bark Park.

      • tbnranch says:

        Ahhh… So she is a working dog, keeping your back warm is a very important job! Glad you have a sweet dog. 🙂

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