Genetics and human-animal roles are given new twists with romantic humor.
Copyrighted story by Jerry W. Engler from the book Just Folks: Earthy Tales of the Prairie Heartland.
There were cowboys swinging ropes in the arena, or riding horseback in pairs, talking to each other. The rodeo clown was walking the fence shaking the big powder puff he would use on bulls at youngsters. A lady barrel racer was going up and down showing her horse the fences. It was a fine, busy pre-show to watch.
Then a bull-rider Cherokee cowboy named Mickey and his dog named Dawg walked to the side of the arena.
Mickey, at 18, had thick black hair, fine features, and that jockey-type slender build just right for horseracing or rodeo topping out at 140 lb.
Dawg, at 5, had that black-and-white marled medium-length hair typical of his breed, with the brown around the muzzle and the chest depth and strong hind quarters just right for cow herding at 50 lb.
Mickey probably was seven-eighths European heritage and one eighth Cherokee. Dawg was exactly half Blue Heeler and half Australian Shepherd.
Mickey said in an earnest moderate tone, "Now Dawg, I'm gonna be busy for a while.
"I want you to jump up here on that aena post, and watch the rodeo until I come back for you when it's time for the bulls."
He hadn't made any motions, just talked to old Dawg, so the people that could hear were interested to see Dawg obligingly jump up on the big square-topped post, and sit.
Mickey walked away.
And Dawg just watched from atop that post for an hour while even the most active events, like calf roping and steer wrestling, went by. Men and women wondered when he would jump down, and small children wanted to climb up there with him.
Finally Mickey came back to call, "Dawg, it's time."
Dawg jumped right down, and went straight to the side of the bull chutes. He barked once or twice when Mickey climbed up on a huge brindle Brahman cross, then quietly watched the wrenching ride until Mickey was done.
When the rodeo was over, half the crowd saw Mickey drive his pickup truck down main street with Dawg panting and grinning out the side window until they reached the pink-painted Ern's Beefhouse Diner.
Mickey and Dawg went into the diner, and Mickey pulled out the chair across from his at the red vinyl-topped 1950's table for Dawg to sit up. The crowd hushed, and many of them wondered who would say something about a man bringing a dog into a restaurant.
Judy the pert, small blonde waitress knew what to say but she paused, giving Mickey time to speak first.
"Ma'am," he said smiling shyly because Judy was pretty, and had big dangly round silver earrings that dazzled his eyes. "I'll have the roast beef dinner, but Dawg here will just have a hamburger with only pickles, no onions."
Judy said, "Sir, we can't have a dog in here. It's against health rules."
Mickey blushed. He looked down at the table. Dawg just smiled up at her, and sat quietly.
"Ma'am," Mickey said, "if Dawg isn't good enough for your place, then I sure ain't either."
Judy looked around the room at all the folks dressed up in their rodeo kerchiefs and jeans, and everybody was just still. A little curley-top girl in the back said, "Mama, that rodeo dog still isn't moving."
Judy blinked first.
"OK, sir, you both can stay--as long as he keeps in his chair, doesn't cause any problems, and nobody complains."
Everybody agreed that Dawg was quite fastidious and polite, only nibbling small hunks of hamburger at a time, whle Mickey had never learned not to hold two pieces of silverware at once.
Back in the kitchen, Trudy, the hamburger flipping cook with red hair, freckles and turquoise beads in her ears, said to Judy, "Isn't he cute. He may be about the sweetest one we ever had in here."
Big Ern, the restaurant owner, said, as he played with his neck hairs, "He looks like a plain old cowboy to me--maybe a little thicker black hair than usual, but no better manners. Look at the way he chews with open mouth, and big wadded chunks of food still in his cheeks--yuck!"
"Not the cowboy, silly," said Judy, "we're talking about the dog aren't we, Trudy?"
"We sure are," said Trudy. "To tell you the truth, I never even noticed the cowboy, but I suppose he's OK, if he's your type. His ears stick out kind of funny, don't they? But, notice the dog--doesn't he look smart when he holds his ears up to look at people going out?"
"You're right," said Ern. "That dog shows real refinement, real manners and intelligence--he's kind of refreshing just to see, isn't he?"
Apparently the people going to the rodeo agreed. The word spread.
On the second day of the rodeo, the crowd across the entire grandstand paused to watch Dawg jump up on the post.
On the second day at Ern's Beefhouse, Judy said, "Well, hi Dawg," when Mickey and Dawg came in. "You know, you have quite the shine in those eyes," she added taking his face between her hands to lok at him after he jumped up in the chair.
"Thump, thump, thump," went Dawg's tail against the back of his chair, and he hung out his tongue in a big grin."
"That dog shows real character," Ern said. "I can't say I ever admired an animal more."
"I just love him," said Trudy. "He's the only reason I went to the rodeo today."
"I find I'm looking forward to seeing him just all the time," said Judy as she checked her eyes, and touched up her lipstick in a mirror before going out to the tables again."
"Well, are you going to have your same old hamburger today?" Judy said leaning over to Dawg when she went out again.
"I think I'm ready to order too." said Mickey.
On the third day of the rodeo, Judy, Trudy and Ern stood by Dawg's post with a dozen kids as he waited before Mickey came to get him. When Dawg went to the bull chutes, the crowd applauded him.
Dawg was proud to stand by Mickey when the cowboys lined up in the arena afterwards to receive their awards and prize money. Mickey was bruised, bone-sore, and beaten by the bulls, especially by a big black animal named Satan that threw him to put him down in the point spreads. But he did get third prize and a $100 check.
They made up a special grand prize purple ribbon just for Dawg, and he got a breeding dog page in the cow dog registry with a photo of him sitting on the arena post. A dozen patrons asked to bring their female dogs to him to get pups at a fee of $200 per live litter.
Dawg also got a year's supply of hamburgers free anytime he came in at Ern's Beefhouse Diner.
Later, Mickey asked Judy if she would take a truck ride with him and Dawg after work. "You'll have to sit in the middle though," he said. "Dawg always rides by the window so he can look out."
When it was time for the truck ride, Dawg jumped into the middle of the seat, and woldn't move even when Mickey pushed on him. Judy rode by the window, and Dawg smiled the whole way. Mickey finally smiled too.
People asked Mickey about his dog training methods. "I don't know," he always said. "I just talk to Dawg."
It wasn't long befoe Mickey realized Judy was talking to Dawg more than he was.
Mickey and Judy have Dawg's big purple ribbon and pictures of his progeny hung over Mickey's bull riding ribbons in their home now.
Sometimes Mickey wonders why a girl like Judy was ever attracted to him, a plain old bow-legged stub of a cowboy. He was just lucky or blessed, he guesses.
As for Dawg, he doesn't have to guess. He knows why.
Site: Jerry W. Engler
Reader Reviews for
"People flocked to see rodeo dog"
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|Reviewed by Candace Ho
|What a cute and heart-warming story! It reminds me of a 'dawg' I used to know. His name was Dink, and I think he had more of a personality than his owner! Thank you, I enjoyed this greatly.|
|Reviewed by Regino Gonzales, Jr.
|Just fed a friendly but sick stray dog before I came across the story. Made me feel good. Thank you Jerry.
|Reviewed by Jean Pike
|Very cute story, Jerry. Great job in your "personification" of the dog, with his big, sloppy grin and his gentlemanly way of dining. He was truly my favorite character in the story!