Ranch Dogs a Ranch Does Make
We have been in the agriculture business for 4 generations and I can say, without a doubt, not a year has gone by that we have been “dogless’. We reccently lost, Tigger, the best lost and found pup a family could ask for.
Tigger, a brindle pit bull mix, became part of our family 15 years ago, when someone decided to drop him on our rural back road during the cold of winter. Having never owned a a pit bull , I must admit like many, my fear came not from personal experience but from “pit bull” horror stories.
He proved me wrong by a long shot. Tigger became an instant best friend to our children who were both in grammar school at the time. In the beginning we had to leave Tigger tied up in the old barn until we got to “know” him well enough to bring home. I will never forget his mournful cry when he was separated from the children. Quickly he proved himself and became the next member of the Erickson family.
Tigger had an uncanny ability to be our protector as well as extremely gentle at the same time. As I think about “Tig” so many fond memories are brought to mind. I’d like to share just a few.
When Grandma Rosie was very frail toward the end of her life, Tigger became her guardian angel. Nobody asked him to take on thie job, he just felt compelled to. The beginning of Rosie’s day started with a stroll to get mail at the end of the road. You must understand this event took a bit longer every day as Rosie’s steps became slower and slower with time. I have a wonderful picture in my mind of Tigger sitting halfway up the road , his eyes intently focused on Rosie as she made her daily trek to retrieve the mail. No matter how long it took, he waited for her return. Once she was halfway down the road, he walked with her back to the house, knowing all was well and she was safety inside. When Grandma could no longer walk up the road, Tigger often sat at her side on the porch and kept an ever watchful eye on her.
Long time customers have shared storied with us about greeting Rosie while she sat on the porch with Tigger. His intentions were made very clear to the visitor that there was definitely a line they couldn’t cross . He never made a move from her side but simply growled with a look in his eye that made it clear he was in charge of Rosie. No offense was taken and the visitors accepted this as part of his job.
Our wonderful Tigger was certainly the “MAN” of the farm. We have “accumulated” many dogs over the years, all females as it came to be. Each time we got a new addition to the Ranch Dogs, the pecking order of the group had to occur. We made many a visit to the vet as the canine hierarchy was established. Never once in the process did Tigger feel compelled to find disagreement with any of the ladies. Actually I guess he felt no reason for such silliness as he was the MAN. He was in charge of his ladies and there were no questions asked.
Speaking of being the MAN, Tigger took on the responsibility of being in charge whenever Ray was away from the Ranch. He made it very clear to customers coming to the stand that they better stay in line because he was now the boss. No one gave Tigger that job either but he happily took it on. He would bark with a very intimidating voice as he was walking up to you with his tail high in the air and wagging . On the other had he was as gentle as he could possibly be. I’ll never forget his love for little children as seen many a time when he would put his very large head directly in a baby filled stroller. He’d give them a gentle sniff and go about his business all to the utter delight of the child.
“Varmint hunting” as Ray would call it was perfected by Tigger. Many a pipe end has been chewed to shreds as Tigger attempted to get at a squirrel, opossum, rat or skunk. When Tigger was on the trail of a critter, he would let us know by giving us an alert bark. It didn’t matter how far away he was from the barn, we could always hear that distinct bark that was clearly interpreted as , “Ray come quick I found a varmint, help me get it out of the pipe!!!” Not only did Ray have to check out the commotion so did all the other dogs. Tigger provided an endless source of entertainment in the hunting department.
As Tigger became ill, he never gave up his “job” as the protector of his family. As difficult as it was for him to get up and bark toward the end of his long and happy life, he never ceased to do that when he felt he needed keep us safe. Tears come to my eyes as I write about my beloved Tigger. He has provided a place in my heart and soul that will always make me feel warm though a bit empty. I know many folks can share the memories of their dogs and can tell similar stories to Tigger. Those are lucky and very happy dogs for certain. These doggone canines carve a part into our lives that make them family and evoke pure love without a doubt.
As I finish my story I am fortunate to be able to look out of my office window at the beautiful fall colors of the peach leaves as they complete their release from the trees that make a wonderful setting for Tigger. He is buried in this lovely setting. As I look out on this beauty my memories of him are with me each and every day. We will certainly never have another Tigger but I am forever thankful that he was such a beautiful part of our family for so many years.