The way I figure it, the whole thing goes downhill, and I do mean all of it, as far as workin cattle goes, the minute people start namin ’em. And around the County Island, we got a lot of cows with names, from Moo that lived at the prancin lady’s ranch, to Chocolate Chip, that lived at another ranch I been to where we played stupid cow games – also called team pennin.
Cows are tough critters, but it seems like County Island cows ain’t built ranch tough. Apparently, when it rains, you can’t play cow games with ’em. I don’t know if it’s ’cause you can’t let ‘em get wet, or if the people worry about runnin ‘em through the muck and mud, or what. If we’d thought that way when I was a ranch horse, we’d never have got any work done at all. Cattle live for muck and mud, maybe not as much as pigs or dogs, but close.
Sometimes I think it’s ’cause County Island people themselves don’t like bein rained upon. I’ve also heard ’em blame it on it not bein safe for a horse to work in slippery mud. Again, I mostly think it’s ’cause they don’t like gettin their fancy boots and pants splashed with mud. Concern for the cows is the first excuse; concern for us horses is the second, in my estimation as a experienced old ranch horse.
I was supposed to go play cow games recently, but it rained. So cow games got postponed to better weather. Oh, I was glad about it, ’cause it meant I got to have a leisurely breakfast, then take a nap under the mare motel roof listenin to the raindrops on the roof, which soon turned into a drivin sideways downpour that lasted all day, with me, Coors and Coors Light all standin shoulder-to-shoulder to keep warm and dry.
But it still irked me, as much as such a thing can irk a horse, which ain’t much. Cow games in the best of weather are mostly pointless, although as I’ve learned since I became a mostly retired pleasure horse on the County Island, pointless things can be downright fun. Don’t tell no one I said that, though. I reckon I would’ve preferred to hear a better excuse for callin cow games quits than rain.
So instead of playin cow games that day, I napped, and ate, and thought about horse things, and napped some more, and watched the usual County Island dogs break loose, as they often do, and run through the mud in the rain, and roll in our rainy wet horse manure for fun. Dogs surely are disgustin animals. They ain’t got one shred of dignity at all. The worst dog we had around these parts, and also the most interestin to talk to, and for that I miss her, was Lisa the Bad Beagle. But she’s gone now, either run off, or run over. Possibly gone from old age.
Anyhow, now instead of a beagle-dog, we got some kind of long-haired shepherd-dogs that slip their home fences near daily. They ain’t too smart, so my bet’s on their people not tryin real hard to contain ’em. They’re kinda young and over-enthusiastic about damned near everythin, the two of ’em, and always too happy to see a horse.
Since neither horses nor cows nor people were allegedly allowed to go out to work nor play in wet weather, I settled for watchin a pair of long-haired bouncy dumb dogs — I got to call it plainly — run and roll and slip, then roll again, in the wet, wet mud and muck. Just when I reckoned they’d soaked it all up, they went back and soaked up some more wet and mud, mixed up with some manure for good measure, and knocked each other down in their dog play fights, until they was as soppy, smelly wet as a pair of old mops.
When they finally collapsed from exhaustion and laid down in more of the mud to rest, I nodded my head and shook it a bit by way of askin ’em how the hell (pardon my french) they were gonna explain themselves when they went back home. I gather the people don’t take kindly to smelly, wet, muddy dog inside their people-barns, although I ain’t never been inside a people-barn yet, myself.
They panted and smiled at me, with those goofy smiles dogs got. County Island dogs are often just as addled as most other things around these parts. But then I realized there was a lot to be said for bein warm, dry, and sensible, unlike a dog, and also not workin smelly cattle and playin games with ’em on a stormy, rainy day. Maybe this time, the people had it right. Still, don’t ever give a cow a pet name. No good can come of it.