The Real Time Canine II

After spending 2 years writing the Real Time Canine, the adventure continues with The Real Time Canine II. Read along as I look for just the right puppy to continue the experience. After false starts with Tim and Jed, I am currently training young Tam, and Spot, which are both off to a strong start. Please visit the RTC II to read about training sessions as they occur.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Do 1 Thing Well

These pictures were taken of an old friend of mine taken when he was 6 years old in one of the cow camps where he grew up on the 491,000 acre Boquillas Ranch in Southeastern Arizona. He's shown at the squeeze chute in the first picture with his dad, Jim, now deceased, and sister, Virginia, who was 8 at the time. These photos were taken for Life Magazine in 1954 after they came to do a story on ranching. Photographer, Allan Grant, famous as the last to photograph Marilyn Monroe before her death, went out with the wagons during branding where the boy spent early summers with the cowboys in the years before he started school. The photographer was so taken with this little boy, that he followed him home and took these pictures.

For those of you who don't notice such things, he's swinging that loop with his left hand. He told me that all he ever wanted to do was rope. He roped every chance he got all his life and grew up to be the best left-handed heeler ever. He used to joke and say; "yeah, I'm a lot better than them other 2 guys." There aren't many left-handed ropers and he is, by far, the best of them. But, in his day, he was as good as most of the right-handers, which made him even more unique.

In team roping, you always turn cattle left for the heeler after you head them, so lefties have to heel. The interesting thing about this man is that he's almost as deadly heading cattle right-handed as he is heeling with his left. We were at a ropin' one time when he headed for a guy just for fun, and they were a very fast 6 seconds and won the roping. He was fairly humble about his gift and when he came out of the arena afterwards, he quietly told me with a sly smile on his face that that was the first time he'd ever been 6 heading. It was important to him. After 40 years of roping, I saw him watch videos of himself roping and replay parts of his run over and over simply trying to figure out a way to be even faster.

A horse was tied to a fence at the ranch one day when we were shipping cattle. He was a-horseback across the fence when something spooked it. Before it could even hit the end of the rope it was tied with, and before any of us realized what was happening, he had his rope down from the saddle and the horse caught, which avoided a wreck and left those of us who saw it completely dismayed. He is blindingly quick with a rope. He did that for our entertainment, for fun and because he could.

I was driving past a pasture where we had some cattle turned out and saw him lope across a low ridge shaking out a loop. I wondered what he was doing and stopped to watch. He kicked up on a steer and heeled him, took a dally and let the rope come tight for an instant, before pitching it off. He got a little red-faced and said "did you see me?" when I asked him later why he roped that steer. He just loves to rope, the cattle were fat, the grass was green and it was a beautiful day.

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