John Robert Mallernee
Part 4: EXCERPTS FROM THE DIARY OF THE LIFE AND TIMES OF RINGO
Friday 26 October 2001:
Today, I went downstairs with a candied apple, and handed Ringo three small dog biscuits, which he just loves.
But, being a dog, he wanted my candied apple.
I attempted explaining to him that he wouldn’t eat it even if I gave it to him, but he insisted that he wanted whatever I was eating.
Well, after a few bites, I decided I’d had enough of that candied apple, and handed it to Ringo, for him to sniff and reject (or so I thought).
Ringo snapped up that candied apple in his jaws and trotted around trying to figure out what to do with it.
It was food, but not food he eats, so what now?
He trotted from place to place, playing with it, tasting it, nibbling and snapping at it.
Finally, he took it behind the wood pile and, digging furiously, buried it in the ground.
A friend gave me a jar of apple butter, and I tried eating it, but it was SPICED apple butter, and cinnamon burns my stomach.
So, because I hate to waste food, on my way to the garbage can, I opened the jar and poured out the apple butter onto the ground, so hungry critters or insects could enjoy it.
I held the jar out to Ringo, so he could lick it or smell it.
I figured he wouldn’t be very interested.
He loved it!
It’s too bad his snout is larger than the mouth of the jar.
After licking the jar, Ringo then lapped up the apple butter that was on the ground.
We went out on patrol, and Ringo really got his exercise, as I drove around all the ranch boundaries, sometimes speeding up, deliberately causing Ringo to sprint.
We stopped by the river a couple of times, so Ringo could take a cooling dip.
Geese and sand-hill cranes were massed on one of the sand bars.
Driving through the trees, I saw a covey of pheasants just ahead, and knowing Ringo’s love for chasing birds, I yelled to him.
But Ringo was so busy running, he didn’t even notice the birds, which for him, is very unusual.
I stopped to collect firewood, and Ringo supervised my efforts, as I loaded the pieces into the truck.
Whatever I do, he’s right there to make sure I get the job done right.
When we finished our patrol, he had a nice long drink from the pond.
Several days ago, an old friend visited here at the ranch, and even he noticed the radical change in Ringo’s demeanor whenever I would get into my car.
Whenever I walk downstairs into the yard, Ringo is so deliriously happy at having human company and the prospect of adventure he just bounds joyfully about, wagging his tail, and tongue lolling from his gaping maw.
But, if I open the door to my personal vehicle (not the patrol vehicle), and climb inside, he instantly freezes, his tail stops wagging, his mouth closes tight, and he stares at me with stunned silence, as if wondering, “How could you do this to me?”
“You’re leaving the ranch and I can’t go with you!”
Then, as I drive away, he’ll lie down, obviously depressed.
In human years, he’s the equivalent of twenty-seven years old.
His owners told me he was born in March, but they didn’t know the exact day, so I have decided that his official birthday (he’ll be four years old) is on Saint Patrick’s Day.
I tell him his ancestors fought on the fields of Cullodin against English bulldogs, and later sailed the cold and stormy Atlantic to come to America.
Here, his ancestors trudged on bloody paws, but with tail wagging, across plains, deserts, mountains, and rivers, to reach the wilderness of Utah, where the pioneer border collies began their farms by diligently planting bones, as they valiantly fought off marauding hordes of birds and butterflies.
Today, Ringo carries on his proud heritage, guarding this ranch in a military manner, periodically launching preemptive strikes against menacing birds, butterflies, or fallen leaves skittering across the ground.
Friday 16 November 2001:
Yes, Ringo finally did it.
In front of his doghouse is a pile of feathers.
Ringo, who loves to chase birds, butterflies, and falling leaves, apparently finally succeeded in catching a pheasant hen, and obviously eating the whole thing, since not even a scrap bone could be seen.
I did not witness the murder, and Ringo is refusing to make any statement, so I reckon the crime will remain unsolved.
I’ve read that pets cross over the “Rainbow Bridge” when they die.
If that’s the case, then Ringo must be going straight to Hell when he dies, because when I saw a rainbow and pointed to it, Ringo wasn’t the least bit interested.
I reckon nobody told Ringo that “ALL DOGS GO TO HEAVEN”.
Do dogs see in color or only in black and white? I’ve heard and read dogs see only in black and white, and I’ve also read and heard that dogs do see in color.
Anyway, Ringo was so busy looking at me; I couldn’t get him to look at the rainbow.
He is a happy dog. He is a handsome dog. He is an intelligent dog, and in my opinion, extraordinarily intelligent.
I decided to spray PAM on Ringo’s dish prior to filling it with kibble, so that the dish would be easier to wash.
But, Ringo LOVES the taste of butter-flavored PAM (actually, I use a cheaper generic brand), so now I spray it directly on the kibble.
I’ve noticed a definite difference in Ringo’s various barks.
Whenever there is a HUMAN coming onto the ranch, Ringo gives a loud, lengthy, and very insistent sustained bark.
If Ringo is barking at another critter, his bark is serious, but shorter, and less intense.
If Ringo is joyfully chasing birds, he makes short high-pitched yips, like a puppy.
I suspect Ringo sometimes barks because he is bored or lonely and wants me to pay attention to him, because when I go to see what he’s barking at, he just stands there looking at me, and I can’t see anything he might be barking at.
I reckon Ringo is doing a good job of training me, huh?
Thursday 13 December 2001:
Just now, Ringo howled just like a coyote or a wolf.
It is the first time I’ve ever heard him do that.
Since he was downstairs sleeping on his doggy pillow, I’m guessing he was having a puppy dog nightmare and woke up howling.
I did notice that when he was barking the other day, that some of his barks ended in a low “Arrroooooooo!”
But, the keening wail he just now let out was loud and eerie, totally unexpected.
Ringo is a dog that can BAY!
I love it!
Friday 21 December 2001:
Tonight, KBYU-TV in Provo, Utah aired the movie, “LASSIE, COME HOME”, and I brought Ringo up to my apartment and popped some corn.
Ringo usually just ignores television, although he loves popcorn, but he REALLY got interested in this show!
It was utterly hilarious watching Ringo watch “LASSIE, COME HOME” on TV.
Ringo would stand right in front of the TV, with his snout right against the screen, cocking his head from side to side with curiosity. He even growled and barked a couple of times, until he figured out it wasn’t real.
Sunday 23 December 2001:
Just now, Ringo may very well have saved my life.
I heard Ringo barking downstairs, so I opened the door and found the stairwell filled with smoke.
A burning log in the woodstove downstairs had shifted, causing the stove door to open, and the burning log rolled out onto the concrete floor, as the open stove door emitted copious amounts of smoke, which filled the garage.
I put the log back into the stove, closed the door, and told Ringo that I would immediately e-mail his owners and inform them of his heroism.
Somebody in Hollywood will just have to make a major motion picture about the adventures of Ringo, the star wonder dog.
Hooray for Ringo!
Thursday 10 January 2002:
Ringo, the amazing Border collie and star wonder dog continues to amuse and astound me with his canine antics.
Whenever Ringo walks past a shiny surface and sees his reflection, he is startled, and jumps away, snarling and growling menacingly.
It’s the only time he does this, because he’s wag-wag friendly with almost all living creatures, human or animal.
As for guarding the ranch, Ringo is usually pretty good at it, although sometimes, especially when he’s with me, he’ll feel so secure and comfortable that it’s up to me to spot someone entering the ranch, at which point, I’ll run and yell, “Look, Ringo! There’s somebody on the ranch! C’mon, we’ve got to stop them!”, and I’ll begin barking and running, which is Ringo’s signal to wake up and do his dogly duty.
Part of the problem is that Ringo knows everybody who comes to this ranch on legitimate business, so he’s not really sensing any danger.
If somebody he doesn’t recognize comes to the ranch, he definitely will warn me.
Being such a friendly puppy, he’d never attack anyone, which is good, but he makes noise, which is all I want him to do.
I do wish he’d bark EVERY time somebody comes to the ranch, even when it’s somebody we know, because I like to note all visitors in my daily log.
But it sure makes me laugh when I’m the one who starts running and barking, and Ringo joins in!
Saturday 12 January 2002:
When I go to the woodpile to collect firewood for the stove, Ringo the amazing Border collie and star wonder dog, trots along, dutifully supervising everything I do.
Ringo really wants to help, but Ringo is somewhat conscience-stricken, torn between two loyalties, whether to help his human, or to act like a normal dog.
So, Ringo, the amazing Border collie and star wonder dog chooses to compromise.
Ringo collects firewood and – – – scatters it around the yard!
Sunday 03 March 2002:
A little while ago, Ringo barked, and I knew somebody was here.
Ringo has different sorts of barks, depending on the situation, and this was his serious, insistent, and loud warning bark, indicating a human was approaching.
Fortunately, it turned out to be another rancher, on legitimate business, picking up a load of hay.
After visiting briefly with him down at the hay barn, Ringo and I headed back towards the guesthouse.
As we passed the pond, I observed a duck swimming in it, and thought Ringo might chase it. But Ringo wasn’t particularly interested (unusual, because he loves chasing birds!), so I walked out on the old rickety wooden pier to show Ringo the duck.
I don’t know what kind of duck it was, but its body was black, fore and aft, with a wide white swathe across the middle.
Ringo watched, but he didn’t get excited, until – – The duck flapped its wings and took off flying!
Then, Ringo wanted to chase it, and happily romped back and forth, as we watched the duck disappear into the distance.
Ringo is so courteous and well-mannered.
When I entered my apartment, he stood quietly on the stairs and waited for me to invite him in. As far as I know (he’s not my dog), Ringo has never been housebroken, but he never does his business indoors.
He does have one fault. He likes to rip throw rugs to pieces. So, I’ve learned to watch him closely when he’s near a throw rug.
Also, Ringo will not allow the cat to stay in the guesthouse with him.
I keep bringing the cat in, feeding it, petting it, showing Ringo that the kitty cat belongs there, but while I’m upstairs, I’ll hear Ringo loudly barking down below, and I realize the cat has been driven away again.
Among the toys Ringo received for Christmas was a stuffed plush creature of some sort. He ignored all of his toys for a long time, but eventually began playing with them.
He completely destroyed the stuffed plush creature, so I now know that he can only have toys that he can bite without ruining.
His birthday is Saint Patrick’s Day, when Ringo will be four years old (or twenty-eight in human years). I plan to buy him ice cream and cake and some sort of chew toy.
Anyway, Ringo is such loads of fun, and by far, the most intelligent dog I’ve ever seen in my entire life.
Monday 11 March 2002:
Ringo and I just returned from our patrol.
It was shirt-sleeve weather, and I didn’t even wear my turtleneck as I patrolled the range, with Ringo joyously romping along.
I watched Ringo pouncing on a leaf, as a breeze stirred it, arousing his ancestral hunting instincts.
Savagely, he buried his fangs in the leaf, killing it.
Then, since he is a border collie, the most intelligent breed of dog in the entire world, Ringo stood with the leaf between his paws, his snout almost touching the leaf, as he intently studied the specimen, head cocked to one side, anticipating his contribution to scientific research.
Wednesday 24 April 2002:
I bought Ringo a set of genuine Army dog tags, just exactly like the ones the Army issued to me.
His dog tags read:
ROCKING G RANCH
17 MARCH 1999
Then, I dug through my footlocker and found an old “SECURITY OFFICER” metal shield, which I pinned to his collar.
Now, when we patrol the range, we BOTH wear Army dog tags and police badges!
Ain’t that something?
I’m sure proud of that puppy.
Saturday 04 May 2002:
Today, Ringo the amazing Border collie and trusty star wonder dog of the Rocking G Ranch, became – – – a PHILANTHROPIST !
When I was buying myself some ice cream sandwiches (which won’t be shared with Ringo, because they contain chocolate) at Smith’s supermarket in Vernal, they were soliciting financial contributions for Primary Children’s Medical Center in Salt Lake City, Utah.
If you made a donation, you could sign your name on a paper heart, so the public could see how wonderful you are.
I don’t like that idea. I don’t consider that an honorable motivation for charity.
Yesterday, when I donated, I signed “ANONYMOUS” on the paper hearts, but when I donated today, I signed it, “‘RINGO’, THE BORDER COLLIE”.
If the kids in the hospital see that (and I hope they do!), it will probably make them go totally nuts with wonder and joy.
Whenever Ringo and I see each other for the first time in the morning, he does a little dance, using just his forepaws, while keeping his hind paws still.
I suspect that particular behavior is left over from when he was a newly born puppy, eagerly kneading his mother’s teat with his tiny forepaws, as he suckled.
Right now, he’s lying in his favorite spot, underneath the patrol vehicle, which is a big red Ford pick-up truck.
Earlier today, he was engaged in his favorite activity, which is following close behind heavy equipment or farm tractors.
If he isn’t right by my side, or dutifully waiting by the front door, then you can be certain that there is a tractor or bulldozer operating somewhere on the range, and that’s where Ringo will be.
The only problem with that is, I suspect Ringo may be losing part of his hearing, due to his desire to be close to heavy equipment when it’s being operated.
I sure wish I had a camera, so I could show you a picture of Ringo, with that brightly shining police badge hanging down on his chest.
But, I’m hoping a neighbor will take his picture, and then I can share it with you.
I’m also trying to figure out how I can get Ringo up in a friend’s helicopter or an ultra-light aircraft (it only has one seat), so I can fasten a pair of silver United States Army “Air Assault” wings on his collar.
Ah yes, the stories about Ringo just go on and on!
Sunday 05 May 2002:
I need some practical advice for preparing a meal.
When I have finished roasting Ringo over a bed of hot coals, should he be eaten as a “hot dog”, with chili and cheese, or would he taste better as a “hush puppy”, with fish and chips?
When manufacturing a fur cap, how long does it take to properly tan a border collie’s hide?
I wonder if Martha Stewart would have any suggestions.
If Ringo suspects what I’m up to, will he quit wagging his tail and licking me?
Wednesday 15 May 2002:
Ringo, the amazing Border collie and trusty star wonder dog of the Rocking G Ranch limped down the narrow dusty street of the tiny one-horse Western town.
A deadly Colt .44 hung from Ringo’s right side, and his left rear leg was wrapped with a bloody bandage.
Ringo was a good “Mormon” dog, and never went to bars or gambling halls, but this time was different.
Ringo was on a mission, and he meant business!
So, in the blazing heat of high noon, Ringo shoved through the swinging doors of the Mad Dog Saloon, stopping momentarily to gaze upon the room, as his eyes adjusted to the dim interior.
With the firm resolve of a true border collie, Ringo hobbled up to the bar, swung quickly about, and through menacing fangs, he snarled, “I’m looking for the man who shot my paw!”
Monday 10 June 2002:
Ringo, the amazing Border collie and trusty star wonder dog of the Rocking G Ranch, has been making me roll with laughter!
A little while ago, I was down by the gate baby-talking and petting Ringo (are you single females jealous?). At one point, I stood up, and in my best stage announcer voice, I began, “Ringo, the amazing Border collie and – – – “.
I couldn’t continue, because I was collapsing with laughter.
As I was introducing this heroic, spectacular canine specimen, Ringo, suddenly serious, was looking all around, trying to figure out who I was referring to!
A couple of days ago, Ringo and I were in the guest house for a few minutes, and as I left, I called to him, thinking he was still inside. I called and called, impatiently wondering why he wouldn’t come. Then I looked around, and Ringo was standing there grinning his big happy doggy grin at the trick he’d just played on me.
Sometimes, Ringo’s humor follows me, even when he’s not with me.
A few days ago, I was at Wal-Mart buying Ringo some treats. His favorite treats, bar none, are Ol’ Roy Multi-Flavored Dog Biscuits, but I was buying him some Pup Peroni Naw Somes. The Naw Somes are vari-colored twisted chews, resembling licorice sticks with cheese and sausage flavor.
After selecting the puppy treats, I went over by the candy counter (I have a sweet tooth, and a severe addiction to chocolate) where a couple of female clerks were stocking shelves and making small talk.
Spying the Naw Somes puppy treats, one of the gals said, “Oooh, that looks delicious! What are they?”
Then she moved closer, and saw that the delicious cheese and sausage treat she was hungry for was meant for dogs! Embarrassed, she quickly walked away to another area of the store.
©Copyright 2001-2002 by John Robert Mallernee