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Happy Tail - The story of Cowboy

Cowboy's story is of early life of outlaw behavior. Enough that even Peg Schaeffer was ready to return him - only to come face-to-face with her role in his euthanization and changed her mind. The story is one of redemption and salvation, when cowboy's life was turned around with the love of a young girl. It's the story of a made in heaven, predestined adoption, and cowboy's long, long life with his the man he chose to go home with.
The next earlier Happy Tail: Happy Tail for Father's Day: Mr. Taylor's Farm Posted June 15, 2014.

By Peg Schaeffer

While still in CT I got a phone call from a friend of mine who worked at the Killingly Dog Pound. They had a male Australian Cattle Dog that they had been unable to place. He was a blue merle who had been shot by his owner's neighbor. The owner never had the dog treated and it wasn't until someone reported him that it was investigated. They took the dog from the owner and took him to a veterinarian but by the time he got there it was too late. They were unable to restore movement in his leg. So now this handsome ACD, Cowboy, was at the dog pound looking for a home. No one wanted a dog that had four legs but was unable to use one. My friend assured me that he was well behaved. He had an outgoing personality and they let him stay in the office when they were there. She asked me if I could take him.

Cowboy was a massive dog

So Cowboy came home with me. He was a massive dog with a lot of muscle and a huge head. On the ride home he was well behaved and got along with the dogs I had brought with me for the ride. I took him into the house and once I was comfortable with his behavior I went upstairs and left him downstairs. Big mistake. Chip came over to visit and when he entered the door he was greeted by Cowboy - by a bite on the leg. And not just a bite - a chomp. Chip was not thrilled. He was yelling to me - why do you do rescue? I come to see my mother and I get bit. Off he went.

Cowboy and I got along fine and I took him outside with me to feed the horses. He was well behaved and interested in the goings on. When I got finished feeding I brought him back into the house and started making supper. Keith came home from work and was greeted by Cowboy in the same manner he welcomed Chip - with a huge bite on the leg. Keith was as mad about it as Chip was.

After biting two people, Cowboy was going back to the shelter

So the next morning I called my friend and told her that I would be bringing Cowboy back. I hadn't had him for even 24 hours and he had already bitten two people. But, I asked her, what will happen to him? She told me they would euthanize him. That's a word I hate. Dogs aren't disposable, like garbage. So I told her I wouldn't bring him back. I'd figure something out.

After a few days with us Cowboy figured out that Chip and Keith were family and they were safe. So he never tried to bite them again. Whenever someone would come to visit we'd put him in a crate so there wouldn't be a problem. Things were working out.

Encounter with Amanda changed Cowboy's behavior forever

My niece, Amanda, always spent the weekends with us. She would come on Friday night and stay until Sunday. She loved the horses and this way she could spend more time with them. Her Mom brought her over and we were all in the kitchen talking. Amanda was sitting on the window seat. Too late I remembered I hadn't put Cowboy in his crate. Cowboy trotted into the kitchen and jumped onto the window seat. My heart leapt into my throat. I caught my breath. Cowboy put his face up to Amanda's and all I could picture was him biting her face off. He didn't do that. Instead he gave her a face cleaning. He licked her face and put his paw up for her to shake. From that day on Cowboy wasn't put in a crate when people came.

He was a great dog to be with. He loved to play ball and go trail riding. His bad leg would stick out in front of him but it never hindered him in any way. We had a recliner in the living room he would sleep on. He'd make himself comfortable with his bum leg sticking up in the air. We'd ask him if he had a boo boo and he'd lift that leg up in the air making the saddest face looking for sympathy. He was quite the actor.

When the transplanted Australian show up, Cowboy adopted him

A man came to the farm looking to adopt a Cattle Dog. His name was Cathal Lynch and he had moved here from Australia. So it was only right that he would want an Australian Cattle Dog. We showed him Shiloh, a red merle Heeler and Cowboy. He checked out both dogs and played with them. When he threw a ball Cowboy caught it first and brought it back to him. Cowboy had chosen his new owner. Cathal drove off with Cowboy in the seat next to him. I can still see him, sitting tall and proud with his face pressed up against the window, saying goodbye.

I was at a horse show in Saugerties, NY and saw Cathal. He had Cowboy with him. He told me that he traveled a lot and Cowboy was his sidekick. He worked training horses and would go to different barns and Cowboy was always with him. I didn't get to see him that day because I was getting ready to go in a class but told Cathal to tell him I said HI.

The next time I saw Cathal was at a horse show in Springfield, MA. He had Cowboy with him and as they walked down the stall aisle Cowboy spotted me. His tail began wagging and he dragged Cathal to me. I gave him a hug and he licked my face and shook hands but the entire time he kept looking over his shoulder. He made it very clear that he was happy to see me but that he belonged to Cathal now.

Cowboy's journey over the Rainbow Bridge - only when it just had to be

Cathal would call me and give me updates about Cowboy. He loved the dog and visa versa. He never left home without him. Then one day he called to tell me sad news. Cowboy had gotten an infection in his back and it left his other hind leg paralyzed. So Cowboy lost mobility in his back legs. He had no other decision but to have Cowboy euthanized.

I know Cowboy is over the Rainbow Bridge, running on four good legs, waiting for Cathal to come and take him riding. I just hope when he crossed the Rainbow Bridge he didn't chomp on St. Peter's leg. - Peg Schaeffer

Peg Schaeffer, Sugarfoot Farm Rescue, 860 Sparksville Road, Columbia, KY 42728 Telephone: home 270-378-4521 or cell 270-634-4675 email:

This story was posted on 2014-06-22 05:46:56
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Happy Tail: Cowboy was quite the actor

2014-06-22 - Sugarfoot Farm Rescue, 860 Sparksville Road, Columbia, KY - Photo from Peg Schaeffer.
Cowboy, a male Australian Cattle Dog
lost use of his hind leg late in life. Whenever asked about his "boo boo" Cowboy would lift his leg up to show it to you. He was quite the actor. His story, which accompanies, is as moving as any in the movies. - Peg Schaeffer

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