Of all the fellers I have been around and cooked for, Jake is by far the top hand. If all hands were like old Jake and had his grit and determination, them fellers would have gotten through in half the time. He never missed a day of the fall gathering and he was always ready at the drop of a hat.
I saw an old cow launch him into space one evening and he did go into orbit. But upon re-entry, Jake taught that old horned hussie a lesson in proper cow handling!
Now I’m sure he had those days when he ached and hurt, but you never saw it. Everyday Jake would crawl out of his bed, stagger to the door of his teepee and peek out.
“My gosh it looks like it might rain, and I sure don’t have a slicker. I’ve only got one coat and it’s dirty. Surely they don’t expect me to work outside in these conditions. But I sure can’t let me down, they’d be disappointed… heck, some might even be mad. It looks cold out there and it’s barely light. Couldn’t we let it warm up just a little and wait for that old sun to get higher? Well now wait a minute, you hired on to do a job and fellers you’re working with would miss you and your capabilities. Remember yesterday when some of them cows we were driving to the pens and decided they would try to sneak off, running like a bunch of grade school kids at recess? Why if it weren’t for me them fellers would still be trying to find them old cows in the cedar breaks. So let’s look at the pro’s and con’s of this outfit: they start too early, I have to sleep on the cold ground and some of them fellers are a real grouchy. But it does have its bright spots: the food ain’t too bad, I really enjoy being outside (most of the time) and folks say it’s in my blood. Ah, what the heck! Let’s get started and show them bovines that we mean business. I do hope old Cookie ain’t burnt the bread, nothing I hate worse than a hard burnt biscuit.”
Now Jessie Ziegler, Jake’s owner, had a dear friend in Jake. Jessie told me once that Jake was always on time and never let him down. Not many dogs were allowed under the fly of my wagon, but Jake was an exception. He would lay there under Jessie’s chair and never make a sound. He never mooched or tried to steal a bite off someone’s plate and that’s more than I can say for some of the hands I’ve fed.
You could tell by the look in Jake’s eyes he loved two things more than anything in the whole world: working cattle and his owner. You can learn a lot from the way a man treats his dog and the way that dog respects him. There was a great bond between Jake and Jessie, they were family. And I think old Jake might have been the better looking of the two!
But you know the more I think about it, Jake was the only one that never complained about my food or at what time we ate it. Of all the working dogs that I’ve been around there was probably none any better mannered, hard-working and dependable than old Jake. We could all learn from him. He did his job, never asked for anymore pay and loved to please those around him. Like my dad said, “Find a job you like to do and do it well.” Old Jake sure found him one.
* Jake passed away not long ago, he will be missed not only by Jessie but by all he knew him.