Farm dogs hold a special place in the day-to-day operations of many family farms and ranches. For my family, our dog serves many important roles. Very quickly after our dog Rosie Bo was brought home to the farm as a tiny puppy, she assumed the role of head of farm security. Over the last few years, she has worked hard to ensure opossums avoid our porches, deer stay out of our yard, birds are made aware of a strict no fly zone near her human’s house, and all shadows of the night get a good barking.
Although she has a huge, warm doghouse and a big barn full of hay, she has claimed a wicker chair on my front porch as her official post, which clearly allows her to remain on high patrol as she deems fit. I think she likes the spot because she not only can look over her territory, but she can also sit up and look into our living room to keep track of her humans.
Our girl Rosie Bo is fierce yet also the most loving and loyal pup you will ever find. She’ll try to destroy any wild animal that enters her domain, yet she tolerates her humans like only a saint would. Many days while my kids have been home during remote learning, I will look out my kitchen window during a recess break only to see Rosie Bo donning a few yards of fancy pink ruffles around her neck while running around the yard with the kids. It’s a style like that from the Elizabethan era and it is quite becoming of Her Majesty. Rosie Bo’s fashion is usually always styled by a 5-year-old little girl who loves digging through my fabric box and clearly has graduated from dressing her baby dolls to now accessorizing the farm dog.
More often than not this year, Rosie Bo has been allowed into the house to relax on the floor for a bit — usually in the absolute middle of any pathway traversed by her humans. I often wonder if she strategically places herself in these high-traffic areas in an attempt to trip her humans in the hopes they are carrying delicious morsels of food like Goldfish, string cheese or peanut butter sandwiches that she could help clean up.
While her taste in human food is quite sophisticated, Rosie Bo also fancies treasures she can enjoy after finding them while on patrol throughout the farm. She’s very proficient in searching our pastures and recovering deer bones that she then brings to my yard and gnaws on while lying in the sun. She’s also impressively good at sniffing out mummified pests like squirrels, raccoons and opossums and bringing them back to her wicker porch perch for safe keeping. I often wonder what runs through the mind of the UPS delivery guy when he makes deliveries to my house — never quite knowing what he’ll find when leaving a package by our door.
While our two kids have been home for remote school, Rosie Bo has become the third student in our learning environment. In the mornings, after she is allowed into the house, she’ll generally make a round through the kitchen to make sure there’s no cleanup work needed before she walks into one of the kids’ rooms to join a classroom Zoom meeting, listening to recitations of the alphabet by my daughter, and laying on the floor near my son as he works through his phonics lessons. Instead of gold stars, Rosie Bo generally knows she’s been a good pupil when she receives a special scratch behind her ear or on her belly and is told she’s a good dog.
As the final days of 2020 wrap up and a new year is ushered in, my guess is that Rosie Bo will continue with her essential responsibilities on the farm with little hesitation. After all, it’ll just be another day for our farm dog doing what she does so well.
Kim Baldwin is a McPherson County farmer and rancher. “Insight” is a weekly column published by Kansas Farm Bureau, the state’s largest farm organization whose mission is to strengthen agriculture and the lives of Kansans through advocacy, education and service.