Boomer and Bernie
There's been a gradual change in the way we cowboys do things. It's come over a period of years and coincides with anti-smoking regulations, a healthier diet, mandatory seat belts, bull riders wearing helmets, gentle horse training, improved cattle handling techniques, and now allowing our dogs free run of the pickup bed when we go to town.
It was a long time before I conceded that chaining my dog in the back was the right thing to do. It was about the time I quit speeding, chewing Copenhagen and started taking an aspirin a day. As the loss of my individual freedoms began piling up, I felt less need to let my dog enjoy one of his favorite things: riding unfettered in the back of the pickup.
Bernie, too, had faced the same decisions to do what is begrudgingly safer, but usually not as much fun. In his case, he lets his good cow-dog Boomer ride in the front of the cab with him. Boomer liked it as long as he could have his window down far enough to hang out his head. One fine New Mexico morning they were driving down the Dexter highway, Bernie on the cell phone and Boomer taking in the scenery. Traffic was busy and Bernie was smack dab in the ;middle of a verbal therapy session with his banker. Suddenly the cab filled with a blizzard of old receipts, magazine scraps, ear tags, Maalox pills and a roll of survey tape.
Then, Boomer lost control of his bowels. Digested dog chow, in several stages of viscosity joined the airborne contents in the dog blender. Swerving on the shoulder, Bernie jumped out, raced around and jerked open the door. Boomer was still attached and smacked him on the face! As Boomer dangled momentarily, a passing motorist screamed "Dog abuser!" and made an obscene gesture.
Well, Boomer got saved and Bernie now chains him in the back. He bought a gross of air fresheners to hang on the rearview mirror that smells like cooking broccoli and he is a changed man. Kinder and gentler, but more practical. Yet, the profound question that lingers in his mind every time he climbs into the pickup is, "Why didn't I lower the window from the driver's side?" Maybe it was some deep man-animal bonding conflict, or perhaps simply his vision was blurred.