First off, I wanna say just one thing: I am always right.
Now that we’re clear on that, let me repeat: I am always right.
Now lemme tell you all why, in this instance.
I knew we was roundin up dogs! I knew it, I knew it! I KNEW it!
I don’t get excited too often, but this right here is excitin news.
I told y’all back here <https://countyisland.wordpress.com/2010/01/18/the-things-i-do/> that one of the things my gal and I do sometimes is ride with the “hunt club.” This is what I had to say about it at the time: “They bring short-legged, floppy-eared little cattle dogs and set ‘em all loose in the desert, and then we gotta round up the dogs and bring ‘em back to the trailers. Takes about two hours to find ‘em all and herd ‘em home. I have no idea why we do this.”
About a week or so ago, we went out with the hunt club again, and I had a feelin. I could almost hardly stand still when we was all gettin saddled because there was somethin in the air that told me this might be a momentous day. All of the short-legged, floppy-eared cattle dogs, which is officially called “beagles,” were talkin trash in the horse-box they travel in before they get let out. I don’t speak dog real fluent, but it sounded like they was up to no good, maybe plottin somethin. Most beagles are, based on what I know about ‘em from Lisa the Bad Beagle that lives next-door to me on the county island (I keep meanin to tell y’all about her, and maybe I will soon).
So the hunt-club people set the floppy-eared cattle dogs loose, and like clockwork the dogs all run off like they always do in a full-blown stampede, although on a smaller scale than a cattle stampede, and with their tiny legs all movin a lot faster. They don’t mind the people at all, no matter how much the people blow their horns and such to tell ‘em to come back home. I don’t know why else you’d be makin noise at a dog like that, unless you was telling ‘em to git back home right now.
We was after ‘em fast, as usual, runnin up and down hills, in and out of washes, dodgin brush… Then, we stopped like we sometimes do, on a wide-open mesa, to see if we could see any of them beagles off in the distance. Normally, the herd of dogs is all kinda mostly together, with the other horses and riders surroundin ‘em and tryin to keep em all bunched up like a proper herd. And that’s all I usually get to see of them dogs, as little specs far away in the desert, until they finally get rounded up and drove back to where we started.
All of a sudden, I saw some movement in the brush beside us – a flash of white that wasn’t a jackrabbit. It was a beagle! Then, another beagle! And another, and another. In all, we found four strays. And they were the same dogs I’d heard makin bad plans back at the horse-boxes! Our riders kept gabbin away, tryin to figure out how to make them beagles git back home. And in the distance, I could hear the horn callin ‘em; they was in big trouble. Thankfully, I knew what to do. As usual, if you want a job done right, let a ranch horse do it.
We three good horses pushed them beagles just like they was doggies of the bovine kind. And they were wily suckers! Dodgin under bushes, goin behind trees and cactuses where they thought we couldn’t get to ‘em, sniffin here, sniffin there, tryin to run us horses in circles, and plain old ignorin us. It’s like beagles got selective hearin.
But we brought ‘em all back to the main herd exactly the way it’s supposed to be done – nice and easy, kind of amblin slowly along, so as to prevent the whole beagle herd from stampedin again. The hunt-club people, they all thanked us, then they set about to doctorin the beagles that was thirsty or had cactuses stuck to their paws, just like we’d stop to tend to the cattle while we was movin ‘em. And then we moved ‘em all home properly, at a nice, easy walk.
I am absolutely positive now that my job with the hunt club is to be one of the outriders — it’s exactly like my old job of workin cattle all day, where the outriders were the scouts that stayed far back and out of the way for the most part, doin the important work of scoutin for strays and then drivin ‘em back to the main herd. I get this hunt club thing now, even if it is still kinda pointless. But pointless jobs can be fun sometimes, too, as I keep learnin about on the county island, especially when you don’t got to do it full-time no more.