Country Dogs

We country dogs come in all shades and snout sizes, and most of us are named Dallas or Willie, Maggie, Sam or Shed. We don't lounge in parlors, ride in Mercedes, receive floofy haircuts, and we'll only crash a tea party if the back door is accidentally left open. That's because a country dog's idea of a social gathering is to howl back at the coyotes.


Some country dogs sleep in doghouses or in barns, but most prefer to snooze outside under a shady porch in the cool, dark dirt with a nice breeze to smooth the fur. That way they can keep an ear to the ground and a nose to the wind, and nobody can load up in the truck and slip off to hunt  without 'em.

Often country dogs appear to be lazy. But actually we're just saving our super-hound energy for emergencies. Besides, we've got to be sharp for the night shift. Most humans have no clue what happens when the sun goes down in the country. Maybe a bear decides to amble off the mountain and nose through the trash; perhaps a skunk, bent with rabies, is looking to sink a fang in a family member. Not on my watch. If you hear Gus from down the road barking at 2 am, that's because his night vision-goggles for a nose has detected suspicious movement near the perimeter. Come on his side of the fence, Mr.-foul-smelling-stranger-man, and he'll show you his country canines.

When given enough experience, it's amazing what a country dog can learn. Tricks, you ask? Chihuahua's play. Give us a job and be patient while we learn it and you'll never have to choose another employee of the month. Need a calf corralled? No sweat boss, just give me some space. Chickens need protecting? My pleasure, sir. Ducks that need fetching, quail that need huntin'? Put me in, coach! Going to the rodeo for a long weekend? Just keep me in chow and fresh water and don't worry about setting the alarm—I got this.

A country dog worth his wool will also learn to stay out of the way of tractors, hind hooves of horses and out from under the head honcho's heels when he's had a long day. That's because country dogs wouldn't last long in the country if they didn't-duh!

Now, I'm not sayin' all country dogs are perfect. Give me an inch of your hotdog and I'm liable to snarf the whole darn thing. Does Brubaker chase a feral cat occasionally? Brubaker might argue that some need chasin'. Do we bark too much? We've been accused. Do we like to ride with out heads out the window, ears flapping? Oh yea. Are we loyal to a fault? Tried and convicted. Are we terrible at fishing? The worst. Do we smell and slobber and get dirty dog hair on every clean piece of clothing you own just before you have to go to town? Oh how we wish it weren't so! Do we grow old and eventually break your heart? Every stinkin' time.

But, come on! You know that the country wouldn't by country if you didn't hear a bark or two under those awesome stars. If you never saw an old Catahoula perched on the truck box of a flatbed truck that made you wonder "Is he going to jump out?" then just how country would this place be? We might as well be at the shopping mall in Chicago, that's what I think. Can you imagine if farmers didn't have dogs, and ranchers didn't use a single one of us, and we didn't keep country boys company and hunters didn't even bother to train us and there were no squirmin' litters of country puppies ever? What if you came to a front porch in the country and didn't even see a wrinkly old hound dog laying in the shade, thumpin' his tail? Man, what a miserable world it would be. It would almost be like ... New York City! Concrete. Cats. Cars ... I don't even like to think about it.

If you need me, just whistle. I'll be over here in the dirt.

--Max, furry guest columnist for Jeff Johnston