“No matter why it hurts, a dog will always make you feel better!” I wish I knew who said that line. He must have been a great man, who had a great dog. Last week my family lost one of our beloved ranch dogs, Blackie. I don’t cry much, I don’t know why. I guess it’s a Texas thing or a manly thing. Or maybe I just don’t like to cry. I don’t know why, but I do know this: when I weep, it’s usually because I’ve lost something that lives in my heart, that I love, that’s important, that’s part of my life.
We have seven ranch dogs and two house dogs in downtown Fort Worth. They each play a separate but vital role in our lives. Bart and Law Dog; they’re wanna be cow dogs. Wrangle and Chica; two Great White Pyrenees that are “Texas- sized” sheep dogs, with “Lone Star level” appetites. Then there’s Bell the long haired, love bug, good for attention. There is Hound Dog, a good for nothing, but runs in circles, confused about something I guess. He barks at everything, but we love him anyway. We have Elmo and Kumi, two of the most awesome Bichon Frise that ever lived in downtown cow town.
Blackie was very protective and devoted to staying close to anyone and shielding them from danger or anything threatening. She was aggressive and fearless. Once sat in the road while a truck came driving up, because there were children playing nearby. She would face down any animal, no matter the size, speed or strength of the foe. She fought coyotes, mountain lions, bulls, misbehaving horses, vicious dogs, venomous snakes and even people if there was good reason. She would not back down from anything to protect the ones she loved.
Blackie was also very loving to anyone. She wouldn’t leave our side unless she thought she was protecting us from something. She was always there when we came out of the office, house, barn, or truck. She was magic at appearing out of nowhere. If you didn’t know where she was, POOF, there’s Blackie, right next to you, quiet as a mouse, staring at you lovingly, wagging her tale, like you’d been gone for decades. I can’t really explain the feeling I receive from any of our dogs. But, I like it. They all love unconditionally. I wish I had that ability like dogs.
Blackie was special. She would sit and look you right in the eye and make you feel like everything was going to be okay, no matter how bad it really was. You could talk to her and she would roll her head around and never take her eyes off you as you spoke. She listened, made me feel better about getting on with my bad day or continuing my good one.
Blackie died a cowboy and a soldier’s death. She got kicked in the head by cattle. It wasn’t a pretty death but, strange as it may sound, I think she would have wanted to go out like that, like a cowboy dog soldier, saving the ones she loved. She had the courage of a lion, the strength of a bull, the heart of a soldier…but the sweetness of an angel. The Chapman family will miss you Blackie. You were a trusted and dear friend and valued family member.
Blackie moved out of this world, but still lives in my heart. I cried like I haven’t in years — and then smiled one last smile for Blackie — and then cried again. This dog’s days are over, her work is done, but will never, ever be forgotten.
Bye-bye Blackie. Bye-bye.