Two Heroic Dogs
By Pat Close
Cow dogs play an invaluable role on many ranches in the West and
more than earn their keep. But two such dogs belonging to Mike Laughlin
and Lee Raine went above and beyond their normal work when they
undoubtedly saved the lives of both Mike and Lee.
are Tip, a female Border Collie mix, and Taz, a male registered
Australian Cattle Dog (Red Heeler), who was just eight months old
at the time.
The incident happened in August 2009. Even though
Mike is on the shady side of 70, he likes to stay busy on horseback,
handling and working cattle. For the past couple of years, he has
been doing day work for the Maggie Creek Cattle Company Ranch out
of Lamoille, Nevada. Day work, in ranching lingo, means that he's
not on the payroll as a full-time employee, but works for the ranch
when it needs extra help.
Lee is also a sure-enough good
hand with horses and cattle in her own right, and sometimes rides
On this particular day, Mike and Lee loaded
their horses in the stock trailer and the two cow dogs in the pickup,
and went out to look for remnant bulls. There was a Red Angus bull
someplace who had been left behind by the crew a few days earlier
when they gathered that pasture because he was giving them trouble
and did not want to travel. Hoping he cooled off by now, Mike and
Lee set out for the water tank where the
bull had been left.
Arriving at the water tank, no bull could be seen. So Mike walked
about 100 yards through the sagebrush to the top of a hill to get
a better view of the area. The dogs stayed with Lee closer to the
truck. When he reached the top, Mike spotted the bull, maybe 100
yards away lying down...and the bull spotted Mike. Normally, range
bulls are tractable and present no threat to people. But this guy,
who weighed about 1,800
pounds, was apparently in no mood to
have anyone mess with him because as soon as he saw Mike, he jumped
up and charged.
No way Mike, in cowboy boots and spurs and
a little stove-up after 60 years of cowboying, could out-run the
bull back to the pickup. And there were no trees or brush he could
get behind. As Mike says, “I got caught out in no man’s land with
no place to hide.” He later (a long time later) laughed, “I should
have held out a red cape!”
Hoping to dodge the bull at the
last second, Mike faced him head-on -- and got freight-trained.
The bull’s head slammed Mike right in his sternum and sent him flying
about 20 feet. Badly hurt, Mike could not begin to get up when the
bull charged again and attacked Mike on the ground. For sure, Mike
thought he had ridden his last roundup.
Lee saw what was
happening and started yelling, and she and the dogs ran toward Mike
and the bull. When the bull saw them, he turned his attention from
Mike and charged Lee. She tried all the bullfighting tricks she’d
seen, like throwing her hat and trying to dodge him, but to no avail.
He hit Lee from behind and threw her through the air. She curled
up best she could, knowing the bull was still coming, but then realized
he was not. Both dogs had sprung into action. They instantly attacked
the bull and succeeded in driving him away from the battleground
-- and kept him away while Lee helped Mike get up and to pickup.
Lee loaded Mike into the passenger side, whistled for the dogs
who jumped in the back, and headed for the main road as fast as
she could travel on the rough, two-track road through the pasture.
Mike was in excruciating pain, but never passed out.
they reached the main road, the ranch cow boss loaded Mike into
another truck and sped toward the nearest hospital in Elko, Nev.,
22 miles away. Lee and another cowboy took the horses and dogs home.
It turned out Mike had all his ribs broken on the left side,
a cracked rib on the right side, and a cracked sternum. He needed
14 stitches over the right eye and his left arm was hanging down,
useless. After an MRI, it was found that the bull had torn Mike’s
rotator cuff in the left shoulder.
Although Lee was seriously
bruised, she did not suffer any broken bones.
later and after rotator cuff surgery, Mike is horseback again...and
both he and Lee will be forever grateful to Tip and Taz. Mike says,
“These two dogs definitely saved our lives. That bull would have
killed us had it not been for our dogs. They both have a home with
us for the rest of their lives.”
Nevada Red Tas - by CH Hill
St.'s Eli's Coming HIC and out of
Ayres' Rosin Spurs
N Mascara JHD NAC NJC HRD1-1 TT CGC CHIC-A.
"Taz" posthumously received the 2009 Hero Dog Award during the
2010 California Cattle Call ACDCA National Specialty in Woodland,
CA on Friday October 15th, 2010. Taz was killed by a cow in
June 2010. This article by Pat Close appeared in Caesar's
Way and Stockdog Journal Magazines.
Taz & Tip