This will be the hardest ranch news I’ve ever written. Have you ever had the privilege of having a close bond with an animal who was a perfect match for your personality? I have. It was Katie. She was my beautiful, tri-colored, long haired, purebred Border Collie. For everyone who’s visited the ranch, you knew her. She’s been beside me to welcome every visitor for the past 13 years. She defined loyalty, and would rather work than eat. Literally, to the last day of her life, she was still trying to follow me to help with the morning sheep chores. She was so weak she could hardly stand, but still her eyes lit up, and she moved out around the sheep with an eye on them and one on me. I let her go to the first group with me that last morning – it was a Sunday two weeks ago. But she was so fragile that I walked her back and made her lie down in the house on her rug where it was cool – and rest – while I finished the chores.
Katie was intense, smart and creative. And oh how sensitive. Her feelings were so easily crushed. She was my spirit, my best girl, my good dog. She was my constant companion and my working partner. She was my perfect dog. She was my shadow.
Whenever she’d see my chore boots, work boots or running shoes, she became incredibly animated. Her eagerness spilled over in every direction for whatever task might be at hand. I called her, “Dancing Dog.” All four feet would move independently in excitement – which was every day for 13 years. I can’t even describe how much I loved her. She listened attentively when I needed to express things I wasn’t ready for anyone else to hear. She shared my excitement and my sadness. She “talked” to me always through her most expressive eyes and oh how vocal she was. When we’d be gone away for a few days, she would race to meet us as we came driving up the lane, and as soon as the car door opened, she’d be in my lap “crying” her happiness.
Katie was a fierce working partner. She was tough with cattle, especially bulls. Yet she tempered her approach with sheep. And always at my side, she knew and completely understood, that “babies” were to be protected. She never touched a lamb. In fact, I think she believed they were hers.
We lost Katie on Sunday evening, and I have hardly quit crying. My life isn’t the same now. I know the lambs in the orchard are wondering where she is – and the barn kitties. She was a blessing and a joy, and played an important role here on the ranch, and in our lives. We all miss her.
I love you Katie,