Fort Collins Conservation District

Ron Neher

Farm Dogs I Have Known

By: Ron Neher, Natural Resources Conservation Service, Retired

You look for a classic picture of a farm scene and often times there’s a dog in the picture. It is usually in its predictable appearance, somewhere located amongst those who live there, and appears somewhat pleasant and friendly.

There are all kinds of farm dogs of every breed, appearance, and disposition. Each have their duties as “farm dog” with all kinds of job descriptions, - some duties assigned by their owners and other duties which are self appointed.

When entering a rural residence, you will noticed some dogs who announce your arrival with an overwhelming pleasant welcoming bark, others with more bark than bite, and others with unwelcomed viciousness almost unimaginable. There are a few who don’t even care you are around with barely an eyelid raised from a rest they apparently feel is part of their job description as well as earned. There are even those who meet you at the entry of the driveway who are so friendly and glad to see you they would bring you the deed of the house if they knew where it was located.

It seems you rarely find just one dog at a rural residence, as it is often the case to find three, four, or even more who live there. As the chorus of barks greets the visitor, the visitor will listen to each bark analyzing its tone and will, with knowledge gained through previous similar experiences, attempt to attach size and/or aggressiveness to the bark tone of each dog. As the visitor sits in their car surrounded by barking dogs not knowing what to really do, they will hear the ever so common comment from the home owner, “Don’t worry, they won’t bite.” You Hope!

You will find all kinds of pedigrees, - some of one breed, others of a couple of breeds, and others with so many nationalities that their Heinz 57 label probably doesn’t have a big enough number. What breed is the best breed? You will probably have to ask the dog to get an accurate answer. But don’t bother, as each one feels he/she is doing as good a job as the next dog.

I guess that is one thing that makes rural life interesting, - you never know what kind of dog, or dogs, might show up. It could be something tall enough to look you square in the eye to smaller varieties of all kinds, shapes, and colors.

But one thing to note is that regardless of size, temperament, age, - whatever, - each dog feels he/she has a level of importance as great as any person around. If you don’t believe it, just ask them.