a "once in a lifetime" dog
Ben Kozar and Chico about 1985
I got Chico in 1975 when I was a young mother ad Erin was just a toddler. The first time I saw him I fell in love. He was the cutest pup- red with a white blaze and black circles under his eyes, these clownish circles were made even cuter by a very solemn expression. When he was grown the black circles dissappeared and but he still had a few black hairs at the base of his tail. The first day we played together all day, puppy and toddler and I and I taught him not to jump on the baby. He was very willing and attentive. The second day he ran gleefully up to us and slid to a stop with his little puppy butt on the ground, because he remembered the lessons of the previous day. At that point I knew this pup was really something special! I soon found out that he belonged to a neighbor he belonged to a HUGE guy whose nickname was Tiny and his name was Chico. Tiny had won him as a prize at a county fair. When Tiny would go to work he would leave the pup outside and the pup would come play with us.
After a week or so Tiny gave him to us, telling us that he just couldn't housebreak him. We were thrilled to have him and I must add that for 11 years, the rest of his life, he never had an accident in my house.
From that time forward whenever possible Chico was my shadow, even when he was outside and I was not, if I would sit at the sewing machine and sew I would glance out the window and he would be lying where he could look inside and gaze right into my eyes. Chico loved the entire family, but he was MY dog! In his eyes I was a goddess, the epitome of everything a woman should be, I was the most beautiful creature that ever walked the face of the earth and my wishes were his commands. He knew the rules and lived by them. I could leave a steak on the coffee table in the room with a hungry Chico, and he would never dream of touching it! Because of Chico I know how I should worship and serve my God, and I realize how far short of this goal I fall.
I know I can never be as good a person as Chico thought I was, but I hope someday to be as good a person as he was a good dog.
Chico would try his very best to talk to me, using his voice and intonations and imitating human speech. Once he was gone for a week or so and when he returned he told me a long story of woe and adventure, then ate a pan full of gravy on his dog food and curled up and went to sleep. I have wished a thousand times that I could have understood what he was trying to say. He learned to greet me at the door every time I returned home from a trip to town and say "Aroh!".
When he was a pup sometimes we would go down to the ranch and watch my dad's Aussies work, since we didn't have any livestock I just had him sit and watch, and a couple of years later, he began helping, and he never made any of the mistakes he had seen the Aussies make. He worked upright in a very gentle manner, applying only as much pressure as needed, but never failing to apply enough to get the job done. Often he would accomplish the goals without the stock knowing what had happened! The other 4-H kids were jealous of Erin because while they had to walk their lambs to exercise them , Erin just had to ask Chico to chase hers around a little every day! This chore was also accomplished very gently with minimum stress to the lamb.
Chico hated snakes. Sometimes he would come home all swelled up and I would get some DMSO from the vet and treat him with it but in a few days he would be back to normal. I have always been a boots and jeans type of girl, but one day I was running around barefoot in a housedress and decided to run outside and check on a doe that was about to kindle. The rabbit hutches were in the old tractor shed behind the chicken house and to get there I had to go down a space that was six feet wide between the chicken house and garage. Halfway there I met a five foot blacksnake that had been eating the baby rabbits! I called for Chico! He arived on the double and grabbed the snake and dispatched it immediately by grabbing him and popping him- in the process hitting my bare leg with the snake's fangs! I "knew" that the snake was non-poisonous, but it was quite an adrenalin rush all the same!
This reptilian hatred extended to the hard round kind and if he found a turtle they were treated to the same shake and throw method that dispatched snakes so effectively. One summer day he had an adult spotted terrapin and was shaking her and throwing her up in the air and had her shell cracked and she was bleeding a little, Ben at that time was the little boy in the photo above. We took the turtle inside and got a rabbit nest box and kept her for a pet for the next year or so. Ben named her Orange Spot Polka Dot. We knew it was a girl because she had brown eyes. Males have red eyes.
In the eighties, Erin was in the 4-H, and we got 50 white leghorn pullets- from the highest production commercial laying strains. These chickens were provided to the 4-H kids each year, and to pay for the chicks we were required to bring four back to the fair in the fall to be sold and the proceeds going to purchase the next year's chicks. We always had some of the best ones at the fair, as ours ran loose and cleaned up after our horses. One year my chickens started disappearing. I told the county agent, and he said "coyotes" a few mornings later I looked out the window and there was Chico in the middle of the road defying the right of TWO WOLVES to approach the house. I went out to back him up, and they left. We had a little part beagle at the time, named Snoopy, who had delusions of grandeur like the cartoon character, and thought he was a German Shepherd. By this time, Chico was 11 and practically toothless! I told my brother and the county agent that the problem was wolves, they insisted that it was coyotes, but these wolves were a good eight inches taller than Chico!
That Saturday morning we heard Snoopy chasing something down the slough. My husband said, "I hope that coyote doesn't get Snoopy."
"I feel sorry for that "coyote" if he can't outrun Snoopy!" I replied. (I had seen Chico and Snoopy take on larger dogs before. Chico would get their attention and Snoopy would jump no their heads and pierce their ears!)
About half an hour later, one of them showed up in front of the house. I called him like he was my long-lost dog, and he was overjoyed to come up to me. We loaded him up and took him to Wal-Mart and dumped him. (WalMart was always busy on Saturday, and we didn't have time or money to take him 75 miles to the nearest humane Society.) He was probably 1/2 Malamute, weighed about 95 lbs. The other one was more wary. He would never get close to us at all. He soon dissappeared, so the chicken slaughter stopped. We had enough pullets left to take to the fair. Incidentally, the one wolf that remained wild was red.
Throughout the eleven years that I was privileged to own him, I never found a female like Chico. The old farmshepherd dogs were dying out along with the family farms! After internet access entered our lives, it took me three days to find dogs similar to Chico and the other dogs my family had since before I was born. Since that time I have done everything I can to see that this breed and dogs similar to my Chico continue to exist. I have not bred one just like him, but I have come close and along the way many people have told me that a dog I bred turned out to be their once in a lifetime dog! At times breeding dogs can be heartbreaking and disappointing, but when someone tells me that I have bred their once in a lifetime dog, that makes all the trouble and effort of breeding dogs worthwhile!
When my house burned down in 1990 I lost most of the photos I had of Chico and have to carry most of my memories in my head. My relatives had lots of photos of my kids, but not my dogs. Maybe this makes the memories I have of Chico seem even more vivid, these memories of my once in a lifetime dog are there each time I plan a mating or evaluate a potential breeding dog.
If I have bred any good dogs, I owe most of it to Chico, and the rest to the people who bred the ancestors of my dogs.
Meet the Dogs of Cimarron