Something special about farm dogs

cattle and a dog

“I think that maybe the best thing about a dog is that they love us without surrender, and they don’t talk back.”

— Mark Twain

There is something about a farm dog that makes us all stop and wonder why a good dog can’t live as long as we do. One thing I have discovered is that nearly all farm people have at least one favorite dog and about a million stories to go along with it.


It was springtime at a state agriculture meeting, long before cell phones, when a woman seated next to me seemed mighty anxious. I noticed she kept looking at her watch, trying to get comfortable, taking deep breaths.

Finally, on the first break, she told me she had hated leaving her home that morning because their dog, Braun, had been hit by the school bus right before she left.

Her husband and son took the dog to the veterinarian and she couldn’t wait to get home to see how Braun was doing.

“I know it sounds crazy, but I wonder how we will ever farm without him!”

Those words stayed with me, and all these years later, the concern and anxiety of a total stranger has stayed with me. Dog lovers get it, empathize and agonize, all the way.

Selfishly, there is the sigh of relief that on this day, at least, it is not the dog we regard as one of our family, but we feel their worry just the same.

One thing that makes a pet so different from any other beloved member of our circle is they do not judge us based upon their own list of expectations.


I could count on my childhood pup, Chippi, to welcome me no matter how long I had ignored her while at school, or taken a bike ride without her. But how that dog loved to go!

The Schwinn Stingray bike, one of the very few things I ever got brand new, came with a deep basket attached to the handlebars with leather straps. It was secure and just the right size for my sidekick Peke who weighed all of 10 pounds soaking wet.

I would ride the bike back the farm lane, whiz down the steep hill near the pond, up the barn bank and back down lickety-split. Chip would put her nose up and take in the wind, tucked down in the basket with no fear.

Our neighbor was our veterinarian, and once in awhile, I would be asked to go pick up something for the farm.

The minute the bike took the right turn off of our road, Chip wanted to jump ship. I learned it wasn’t safe to even try it, so the basket stayed empty until I picked up whatever medication from Doc Smith.

Chip hung out with our English Shepherd, believing she was just as important as he was out around the barns.

Her sweet and spunky spirit brought a love of dogs that has followed me throughout life. I can’t imagine it any other way.


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Judith Sutherland, born and raised on an Ohio family dairy farm, now lives on a 70-acre farm not far from the area where her father’s family settled in the 1850s. Appreciating the tranquility of rural life, Sutherland enjoys sharing a view of her world through writing. Other interests include teaching, reading, training dogs and raising puppies. She and her husband have two children, a son and a daughter, and three grandchildren.



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