Baxter Black: Gimp | TSLN.com

Baxter Black: Gimp

I was out in the driveway scattering stove ash when I heard the geese. It was three days until the end of the season and I was still zero for 6. They rose from the field to the north, squawking raucously and aimed straight over the house.

I dropped the coal bucket in the snow and raced back in the front door! I careened off the furniture like a bad billiard shot! At the back door I grabbed the big twelve gauge leaned against the wall and three shells that I had conveniently placed on the top of the window ledge. Crashing off the back porch, I loaded the gun with the relaxed ease of a 13 year old on his first date! The geese beat the air above me as I swung the shotgun skyward. Boom! Boom! The geese sailed over the barn like a giant manta ray. Nary a feather fluttered to the ground but my two horses thundered from the barn!

I was in a funk that evening when I went to feed. But I noticed that my new rope horse was packin' his right hind. After a thorough lameness exam I concluded he musta slid on the ice and pulled a muscle. Possibly, I admitted, the result of a sudden fright.

Join the club. My old dog was favoring his left front. Considering his long history of bein' shot and run over, I wasn't surprised.

The cat Lefty, got stepped on a couple years ago and the Doc amputated her right hind.

Adding my bilateral bursitis, Pablo's bad back and my teenager's loss of memory, my place looks like a World War I field hospital. It's a hazard of country life.

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My friend Charlie has a cowdog named Gimp. He has established a breeding program and now has produced a litter of pups that all limp. He wrote me of his success predicting that he will make a million selling them to cowmen. His theory is that it will save an enormous amount of time getting a cowdog to the bum leg-ged stage.

And, he stressed, it is humane since they won't have to go through the agony of getting injured in the first place. He says that a gimpy dog will be more cautious around kicking cows, truck tires, bangin' chutes and cattle alleys. They can get right down to business.

It might be a good idea, but Charlie, like me, is gettin' a little long in the tooth. We're getting too practical. Playin' it safe. Goin' to bed early and eating our prunes. We're thinkin' like old dogs.

Young dogs think work is play. They turn over a new rock everyday discovering their world. Kinda like the thrill I got when I saw those geese fill the sky. Innocent wonderment. Made me feel like a puppy again.