Monte’s No Sale
Photo courtesy of The Old Cowboy Archives
Monte’s No Sale
We have mentioned a time or two that Australian Shepherd dogs have possessed us for over a quarter of a century. After the first one there was no turning back. We find them to be smart, strong, intelligent, obedient, loving, protective, alert, devoted, willing, laid back and they live to please their humans.
In our early days with the dogs we had a couple that were protective to the point of being perhaps a bit aggressive. They were Marie’s guardians and we called them the Gator Girls. They chose Marie as their person and they both went with her wherever she went on the property. They would even accompany her from room to room in the house.
They were tough enough that we had beware of the dog signs up and down the driveway and Marie was sure to tell anyone who came to the farm to stay in your car, cause if the Gator Girls can’t bite you they will bite your tires……and it was pretty much true. We had to put them into their room any time we had company or they would sneak up and take a little nip just to prove they could.
Those two were the toughest we ever had and frankly we miss them a good bit because Marie always felt safe with the girls, even if she was alone on the farm for days at a time.
At that same time we had our big Aussie who was named Monte. He was the first and he was the one who set a high standard for Aussies around here and he actually trained a lot of the others as to their expected role and boundaries of the farm. Monte even knew the animals and knew the livestock that belonged and the indigenous wildlife that needed to be kept at bay.
Monte would not allow a strange dog on the place. But, when we got the second Aussie, Tana, and introduced her to him, he immediately adopted her as his own and she became one to be protected. Tana was the first of the Gator Girls and as she grew older she became the ultimate protector.
Unlike the Gator Girls, Monte was very tolerant of people. He loved everybody. He was exposed to a lot of people from the time he was a puppy and was never mistreated and greeted everyone with a smile. His greeting was to cock his head and curl his lip as he trotted up to folks to be petted. He was a good-sized dog as well and tipped the scale at a hundred pounds in his prime. Folks coming down the drive and seeing the bad dog signs and then stopping in the yard to see Monte walking up to them with his smile were often frantic in rolling up windows and locking their doors.
We were content to let folks think that Monte was the bad dog. Only our close friends ever saw the real bad ones that were in the house.
A fox, coon, possum or even a skunk that ventured into Monte’s realm did so at its own peril. Over the years he even developed a hard learned technique for killing skunks without getting sprayed. We have some skunk stories.
Beside our driveway and near where we park out vehicles is a large old Cedar tree. Many of our dogs have loved to lie in the shade under the Cedar where they could watch the front door of the house and also watch down the driveway toward the barns and the road.
Monte would be there every afternoon when we returned from our labors in town and he would trot down the driveway to greet us smiling and wagging all over. Aussies don’t have tails so they make up for it when they are happy by prancing and wagging their whole body.
One evening as we came home, Monte did not come to greet us. He was under the cedar tree but he was sitting there looking up into the tree. He turned his head and snapped a greeting but immediately went back to intently staring up into the tree. Curiosity made us go to the tree to see what he was staring at so intently and as we approached he became quite animated. About ten feet up in the tree perched on a limb was a ground hog and the tree was quite scratched up from efforts by Monte to get up into the tree himself. He had finally decided to wait him out.
Baby Jim tossed a stick at the ground hog, who then determined that he must make a break for it. Big Mistake. The ground hog jumped from the limb and Monte caught him in midair and the ground hog was dead before he hit the ground.
Monte used to keep the place free of ground hogs. And then after him little Loreal, who was a sweet little dog and a natural wonder of a cow dog. But one day a ground hog bit her, and from that day on she hated them with a passion. Since we lost Loreal a few years ago Baby Jim has had to go back to shooting ground hogs to keep them in check.
There was one time that Monte did go on the prod after a person. I firmly believe that left to his own devices Monte would have killed this man just a quickly as he would have a pesky ground hog.
It was Spring time. It was a Sunday evening right on the edge of dark. We need to point out here that Monte was Baby Jim’s dog. Just like the Gator Girls followed Marie, Monte was going to be somewhere near Baby Jim.
Baby Jim was in the process of doing the evening chores and making sure that all the water troughs were full. Our hero and Monte were in the field behind the house. A gentleman had come down the driveway to inquire about a bull. He came unannounced, at dark, on a Sunday evening to look at black bulls. Engrossed in whatever they were doing neither Baby Jim nor Monte had heard the car drive in and the man had knocked on the front door.
Marie greeted the man and was trying to keep the two Gator Girls from escaping the house and consuming him and he explained why he was there. Apparently the Gator Girls had unnerved him somewhat and Marie stepped out onto the porch, and closed the door, thank heavens. She explained to the man that she knew Baby Jim was somewhere about and she yelled for him.
Baby Jim and Monte both heard her and Baby Jim yelled back and Monte took off for the house. A few moments later as he walked toward the house Baby Jim heard an awful commotion. There was yelling and screaming and the sounds of a dog fight, with growling and snarling and barking. Baby Jim ran for the house and could clearly hear Marie frantically calling his name. He yelled and ran and dove through the fence and rolled to his feet and ran the rest of the way. As he rounded the corner breathless, He found Marie on the porch on her knees with both arms locked around Monte’s neck in a death grip as Monte dragged her across the porch snarling and snapping . He wondered to himself “What the H……” and then he spied the man hanging by his toes and his fingers on the outside of a porch column as Marie tried to restrain Monte.
The Gator Girls were in the house and raising cane because their mistress seemed to be in distress. They were clawing savagely at the door and barking and chewing on the door and rattling it on it’s hinges as they tried to pull it open. Another couple of minutes and they would have chewed their way out.
Bay Jim could see that the man was clearly shell shocked and was no real threat. He grabbed Monte by the collar and calmed him and helped Marie to her feet. He told Marie to go into the house and calm her dogs and he put Monte in the house as well.
Monte calmed quickly and as soon as the Gator Girls got their mistress back they calmed to a manageable level. Occasional Gator growls could still be heard from the windows as they monitored the situation.
The man was so shell shocked that he could barley speak his name or say why he was there. Baby Jim spoke with him for a few minutes a finally figured out that the man was in the market for a bull. Baby Jim told the man what was available and explained that the bulls were out in the pasture and would be difficult for the man to evaluate in the dark. The unnerved man agreed and determined that he would come back during the day next weekend and that he would be sure to call ahead.
As the man left, Baby Jim went into the house for a better report. Marie says she was standing on the porch talking to the man when Monte bounded around the corner. Monte was surprised to see a strange vehicle and then a strange man standing near his mistress. He stopped short and barked at the situation with his hackles raised. That is when things took a turn for the worse. Marie reported that the man totally lost his composure and yelled “Oh God! Lady, don’t let that dog bite me!”
He then did the absolutely dumbest thing any human being could possible do in such a situation. He jumped behind Marie and grabbed her by the shoulders to use her as a shield from the dog.
Now Aussies are a thinking breed of dog. They think about things and then make a decision and they take the action they think is appropriate. It comes from being a herding type dog. They know what the objective is and they learn to make decisions to accomplish the objective. Little Loreal was born knowing more about working cows than Baby Jim does today after a lifetime of the work. Occasionally he would give her a dumb command and she would just shake her head and do what needed to be done.
When Monte stopped and barked, he was evaluating. But when the stranger attacked his mistress he took decisive action. He was going to protect his home and his family.
The only thing that saved the day was Marie’s decision to grab Monte about the neck and try to hold him. She said the man was dancing around her and trying to avoid Monte and still holding her shoulders. She knew that sooner or later Monte was going to have him by the leg and pull him down, so she did the only thing she could think of which was to grab Monte.
Suddenly without his human shield, the man bolted to the side of the porch and used the porch column to shield himself, which is where he was when Baby Jim arrived.
The guy did come back, but he didn’t buy a bull. He was as nervous as a long tailed cat in a room full of rocking chairs the whole time he was here. He looked at the bulls and seemed to like em, and quibbled a little about the price.
Secretly Baby Jim expected that the guy thought that if the bulls were as tough as the dogs, that he would not live through the week. Little did he know that most of our bulls are pets. We currently have a bull calf, Ulysses, that is not weaned yet but still wants his afternoon butt scratching every afternoon.
The Aussies we have today are not near as tough as those old dogs. Rose will sit in the lap of anyone who will pet her. Toby will make a little noise but he is not big enough to scare a tomcat off the porch. Marie is not near as tough now as she was back then either. Or maybe she is tougher. Today if someone did something that stupid, she would probably just let the dog eat em. Baby Jim surely would.