When a Body Breaks…

Our best working border collie, “Tex” cut his foot severely about 2 weeks ago.  He managed to stick his paw through his pen (we are guessing) and peel the skin off so badly that it exposed bone.  It was awful to see.  He handled it like a champ though.  That’s Tex for you.  He is the most outgoing, best mannered, smartest, toughest and most honest dog I think I’ve ever had the privilege to be around. 

I found him when I was living in Texas.  A farm manager up the road from where I worked had a litter of border collies in 2005 and my coworker and I decided to ride up there and just take a look.  Of course, we had no intention of getting a dog, but who can resist looking at a bunch of adorable 6 week old puppies.  We got to the pen and watched the pups playing.  At that age you can start to see their personalities come out.  Some of them were wrestling, some were whining and following their mom around, some were sleeping.  Then there was this cute tri-colored pup that looked right at me when I came up, walked to the front of the cage, stood up and just stared at me.  He never whimpered, never licked at me, he just looked directly at me and I knew there was something special about him.  I turned to my friend and coworker and told her I had to have that puppy.  She just shrugged her shoulders and said okay.  I went back to the office, called the farm manager and wrote him a check within the hour.

I was right about that puppy.  I took him home to the apartment I was living in that first evening and when I first brought him inside he walked around a minute, then came back to me and whined.  I picked him up and took him outside and he peed in the yard.  That pup never had an accident in the house.  I didn’t have to house train him–he figured it out himself. 

I developed a plan for the new puppy.  He was bred to be a working dog and I was sure that that was what he would do.  I contacted my boyfriend at the time who lived in Georgia and worked with his father on their cattle farm.  I told him that I had bought a border collie and I was going to raise him until he was old enough to have his basic commands down and then I wanted my boyfriend and his dad to have him and use him to work the cattle on their  farm.  My boyfriend was a little surprised but he said okay.

My boyfriend’s dad had a Catahoula dog at that time named Tennessee (because he got the dog in Tennessee).  And so, the new border collie became Texas.  According to the working border collie folks around east Texas, the dogs should have one syllable names for giving commands.  So mostly he goes by Tex. 

I kept Tex for about 6 months.  Then, for my boyfriend’s dad’s birthday, we gifted him the best darn border collie puppy ever.  From that day on, they were inseparable.  Texas learned how to ride the 4-wheeler, the tractor, the truck, push cows, seperate cows, and how to swim in the water troughs when he got hot working.  When he was told to load up in the truck, he would turn immediately and head to his truck.  He would even climb up over a closed tailgate.  If he was told to load up on the tractor, he would go to the tractor.  This dog understands english!  And then at the end of the day he was always happy and playful and loving.  When he was asked to go to his pen, no matter where he was on the farm, he would head that way and be inside waiting for you to shut the door when you got there.  (I have a hard time dragging some of my dogs into pens.)

When Tex was a little over a year old, he was out in the pasture following the tractor that his dad was putting hay out in.  The cows caused a bit of stir at the hay bale and somehow Tex got under the tire and was run over.  It badly dislocated his hip and he developed a limp from the accident but otherwise it was business as usual for the tough guy. 

So 2 weeks ago we were pretty traumatized over his foot injury.  He is still in the healing process and I pray for his foot constantly.  The vets were worried that they would have to amputate after the first week but he had a miraculous turnaround with some extra antibiotics and they are hopeful that he will keep his foot.  When we told my father-in-law (oh yeah, quick side note–aforementioned boyfriend is now my husband) that there was a possibility that he couldn’t keep his foot he said, “no, Tex will be fine.”  We weren’t sure.  But Dad was faithful and we are continuing to be too.  Then last week we were talking about breeding Tex to a really good female so that we could get a male dog to carry on the legacy of Texas and give him a chance to retire.  My father-in-law said, “he’s like me, he don’t know the meaning of the word retire.  People are trying to cut off his leg and tell him he can’t do something anymore, they don’t know about Tex and me.”  And he’s right.  Retirement is not something you believe in when you are doing what you were meant to do.  Texas and his dad will be on the farm working until they can’t; even when their bodies aren’t able to do everything they used to, they will still give all they’ve got.  And when their bodies break or just break down, that defining strength of spirit and will keep them pressing ever onward on that straight path God has made.