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Border Collie Soliloquy

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I've known of Baxter Black for over 20 years. He delivers some of the most rib-splitting cowboy humor ever heard, and writes poems that can make a grown man laugh or weep. He's danged good at what he does and I've admired his writings from day one.


However, I had no idea he had written a tribute to the Border Collie, until a friend of mine sent it to me as a greeting card. It's magnificent. And I'm pleased to share it with you. Enjoy! :)


~ Gloria



~ * ~




by Baxter Black


Just a word about one of the greatest genetic creations on the face of this earth . . . the border collie.


Faster than a speeding bullet. More powerful than a locomotive. Able to leap tall fences in a single bound.


The dog that all sheep talk about but never want to meet. The fur that legends are made of. Makes coyotes cringe, sheep trip the light fantastic and eagles soar somewhere else.


Invested with the energy of a litter of puppies, the work ethic of a boat person and the loyalty of Lassie, they ply their trade on sagebrush flats, grassy fields and precipitous peaks from sea to shining sea.


“Away to me!” I command. They streak and sail, zipping like pucks on the ice. Black and white hummingbirds, in out, up down, come by.


Sheep. With head up, one eye cocked over their shoulder asking directions. To the gate through the race. Mighty dog moves behind the bunch like a towboat pushing barges around a bend.


And heart. Do they try? “Just let me at’em, Dad!” Stay! “C’mon, I’m ready!” Stay! “Can’t you feel me hummin’? Listen to my heart, it’s purrin’ like a cat! I am primed! Aim me, point me, pull the trigger!”


“Away to me!” It makes me feel like Robin Hood. He leaves my side like an arrow.


Workin’ dogs is like manipulating a screwdriver with chopsticks. Like doing calligraphy with a plastic whip. Like bobbing for apples. Like threading a needle with no hands. Like playing pool on the kitchen table.


There are no straight lines in nature. Only arcs. Great sweeping curves of sight and thought and voice and dog. Always having to lead your command about a dog’s length.


Sheep bunched like logs on the river. Dogs paddling in the current, always pushing upstream. A ewe breaks loose. Then another. Another. The log jam breaks. Dogs and sheep tumble about in the white water.


Calm again, they start back upstream.


Border collies. Are they truly smarter than a chimpanzee? Cuddlier than a koala? More dedicated than Batman’s valet?


Can they change course in mid air? Drag Nell from the tracks and locate the missing microfilm?


Yes. I believe they can. They are the best of the best, the epitome of ‘above and beyond the call of duty’. Head Dog. Top Gun.


I salute you, for man has never had a better friend.




© Baxter Black


~ * ~

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i too love baxter black. i used to be a librarian at the public library and was able to keep up with his writings. since i've left the library i've for gotten how much i enjoy him. thanks for reminding me!

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Ed and I got to see him perform in person about 15 years ago, down at Jackson's Mill, for an Extension meeting. Funny as he is on paper, he is hilarious in person! He was describing calving out cows...

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Never heard of the guy, but I really like the poem, and will start sniffing around on the web for more.

I liked this part especially:


"Workin’ dogs is like manipulating a screwdriver with chopsticks. Like doing calligraphy with a plastic whip. Like bobbing for apples. Like threading a needle with no hands. Like playing pool on the kitchen table."

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Nice tribute to the border collie. Baxter Black is one of the good old boys. But what about that shirt? :(


Baxter's humor is down-home, and appears to come from first-hand knowledge. Why do people sometimes laugh at stories of some old cow-hand getting hurt (as his stories often go), or something bad happening on the farm? Because he tells the stories in such a way that we can relate, with humor, and we know in our hearts that that cowboy got up, dusted himself off, and went back to work, or that the farmer mended his fence, and life went on with only a minor hiccough.


Black makes videos of his stories. Here is one I like, entitled "One-Ups-Manship". Who hasn't overheard or engaged in a canine conversation of this type, but did you have a punch-line to top it like Baxter relates? Those who have heard this saga will recognize his version of it, and those who haven't will hopefully get a chuckle.




-- Kind regards, TEC

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Haha, great guy! I met the kind of man he describes, there is someone here in Iceland with the nickname "best horse" ;)

And by the way, I lied, I did see stuff by him before, always had a better memory for faces than names, and you don´t forget his face (or rather mustache...)quickly.

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Working Border Collie magazine has a column by Baxter Black each issue. I've read a couple of his complilation books - some of his stories make me want to laugh out loud. But I think he is even better "in person" where his expressions and gestures add to the storyline.


He is very entertaining.

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