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Who let the dogs out? Who? Who?

My favorite part about ranching, or should I say my top 4 favorite things are cattle, dogs, caring for the land, and working with my family. My family’s ranch, just like many other ranches, is split up in pastures. Each pasture houses a specific number of cattle for a number of days. By monitoring the grasses, plants, water, and land, we strategically decide when it is time to move the cattle to give the plants and land time to regrow and rest.

When this time comes, I wish cattle listened as good as dogs. It would be great to open the gate, walk into the next pasture, yell “come,” and watch cattle run in. Unfortunately, moving cattle takes more planning, effort, and manpower than yelling “come.”

On our ranch, we use dogs to make the job easier. A well-trained cow dog, led by its owner, takes the place of several ranch hands. They use the cattle’s flight zone, specific hunting tactics, gathering instincts, and patterns to push the cattle where the rancher commands. By standing, walking into, and putting pressure on areas in the zone, dogs and people can efficiently and effectively move cattle all while keeping the cattle calm. These tactics have been bred into dogs for centuries by breeders selecting behavioral characteristics that are favorable to the job.

I read a sign the other day that said, “cattle dogs, don’t work for it; they live for it.” Cattle dogs have a distinct purpose – assist in moving cattle effectively and efficiently. On national #DogDay I will be celebrating the cow dog and striving to be as dedicated and loyal as mine!

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Written by Chuck Backus, Arizona Rancher & Past President, AZ Cattle R & Ed Foundation Cattle people usually spend their entire lives working with cows, but usually don’t know much about the history o

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