Ridin’ Shotgun

Most farm and ranch outfits have a dog around the place. Our dog Pepper, gets to go along to help feed cows in the winter and check water and cows in the summer.

It’s all fine and dandy if there are no other passengers because then Pepper has the whole passenger’s seat to herself and that’s the way she prefers it. She’s not overly fond of having to share “her spot” with another passenger.

When someone else rides along, we can’t get her to move over to the middle seat with just a vocal command. She just looks at us, half annoyed and we have to physically push on her hind end to get her to move over.

If we’re in the little ranch pickup it’s even worse for her because she has to ride on the floor or on the flatbed on back of the pickup. She doesn’t mind riding on the flatbed in the summer, but in the winter she enjoys the heater just as much as we do.

If the passenger gets out of the pickup for more than 30 seconds, Pepper will quickly try to reclaim her passenger side seat next to the window. When that happens, we have to start the process of moving her over all over again.

When it’s just one person driving and Pepper riding along, it’s nice having Pepper for company. The only time we regret taking her along is when she’s found a deer carcass or a cow cleanin’ to munch on. I can attest that a diet of such findings can make the air in the pickup cab unbearable as a result of Pepper’s gassiness.

Every morning when we walk towards the shop Pepper is close behind us because she knows we’re going to get in the pickup and she wants to ready to jump in when we give her the sign. While feeding cows there have been times when a cow will sniff the side window and Pepper will bark at them through the glass. Pepper can put on a bluff but sometimes a cow will call her bluff and then Pepper is a scared dog.

There are instances when she can’t come along and when we tell her, “Stay here, Pep,” her ears and head droop and she looks up at us in the saddest sad-sack look of any dog. She’ll stand in the middle of the drive way with her head partially lowered and will watch us leave before she walks back to the porch. When we tell her from the front porch to stay, she’ll lay her head on her paws and watch us, hoping her appearance will make us change our minds.

Even though our pickups end up with a lot of dog hair, it’s fun to have our pickup riding partner with us. Even if we can’t talk our kids into coming with us sometimes, Pepper’s always willing to ride shotgun.

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About ranchwifeslant

Amy writes a humor column based on rural living and ranch life from the southern Black Hills of South Dakota. She and her husband raise their two kids on a fourth generation cow/calf operation near Pringle; the Elk Capital of South Dakota.
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