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Loading livestock near a wildfire


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During our evacuation I compiled this list on loading livestock near a wildfire in dense smoke and chaos. ( I compiled it in my head as we evacuated, as I realized what had happened was important for me to remember.)


Loading stock in a strange rigs, maybe even a rig not designed to haul livestock.


Dog must stay near you or your truck without you monitoring him. ( I know at least one case of a stockdog getting run over and killed and a few that ran off.


Dog must find his own close water. You do not have time to find water for yourself so it is helpful if your dog drinks when and where he can.


Has good stamina and ability to tolerate heat, and tough feet.


Dog watches your back. Gathering and loading in these conditions were some of the hardest things I have done. Loose cattle that ranchers have turned out can be a problem as well as your own freaked stock. Your dog looks out for you.


Can gather at a distance with no commands out of your sight and Bring Them All. You may not have time to get any stragglers.


Can load, cover, and walk in calmly stock that is frightened and being loaded in strange rig. No fighting stock or bad gripping, just quiet, calm /power and appropriate nose/heel bite.


Can dog break, undogged stock quickly and fairly.


Can load sheep and cattle.


Can work with minimal commands.



The wildfires taught me that two of my good dogs deserve a lot of credit, Joe and Jake. Good old dogs that helped in a very tough situation. I added RLF to both these dogs reg names.

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I forgot to add this- They better have no quit in them, and not be upset at people yelling, and loud noises.

BTW in my opinion these things are bred into the dog, and under stress/ distance do not vanish. Training enhances these traits.

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I have some limit experience with prairie fires from living in SD. That is bad enough, I never want to be anywhere close to a wildfire in timber. Getting the animals out and finding a place to go with them was super stressful I am sure. Glad it is looking better for everyone.


Those moment when you have no choice BUT depending on your dogs, when your between a rock and a hard place and not even really sure what command to give - Those Moments show you the Heart and Grit and Soul of a Dog.

We are blessed they choose to work with us.

Take care

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Thanks you guys.


It was scary as hell.


I only managed to get two pictures during the actual day that will be in Stockdog Journal.


One is Joe heading out up the ridge into the dense smoke, I hoped he would be able to get back.


The other is Jake exhausted head down, after finishing loading at the very end.


Pete and I hardly slept for days at a time.


A big wildfire creates its own weather. My lips were so chapped it was incredible.


Many cattle died simply from smoke, then were burned up.


When I was doing this, it had to be fast, and correct. Strong, and with just enough pressure.

I didn't have time to watch the dogs work or give commands.


I could only open gates, run, open rig doors, run....


The dogs had to have understanding and be brave enough to stay with me.


Horrific. And We were the lucky ones.


The National guard, The army, Fairchild airforce base, Canadian, Australian firefighters and Red cross converged in our tiny town.




One very sad post on my Stevens county fire danger page sums it up.


'We need to evacuate, but we do not know where to go? It seems there are fires everywhere.'

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I mostly just lurk, but I've been watching the fire updates here and praying for all of y'all up there. Four years ago we were in Bastrop, Texas, for Labor Day weekend when the Bastrop County Complex Fire started. In the end it burned 34,000 acres. Not nearly as big as y'all's, but it was more than enough to give us a taste for what a wildfire is like. We got out just ahead of the fire thanks to some friends who drove around it to alert us and get us out. The cabin where we were staying, and all of our belongings, were a complete loss -- we grabbed the kids and jumped into the car barefoot. Helping clean up in the area afterward was mind-blowing... the damage was incredible. Four years later there's a lot of new growth and recovery going on, but it still hurts to see it.


All that to say, I sure feel for y'all. Our experience was rough, but our personal losses were limited to a weekend's worth of stuff, a weekend cabin, and the summer camp next door where we've volunteered since I was a kid. I can only begin to imagine what it would be like if it was my property, my livestock, my home and my livelihood. I'll continue to pray for all affected.

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Thanks TX mom sorry for what you went through.


As of today over 900,000 acres have burned.


The kettle complex and RLF and Graves are still burning but over 50% contained.

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Those are the sorts of things a dog has to learn and intuit almost on his own. It's taught by the hill and the work and his own intelligence, and it's taught by the fair handling and respect of his human partner. My dogs can't do what your dogs do. You have a very special pack, up there. I'm glad you're writing about some of your experiences. It will be a unique and amazing story to all who read it! :)

~ Gloria

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Wow! Just unbelievable.


I am so glad you are all safe.


My brother lives just above the Spokane River right straight across from Fairchild AFB. The hillsides on both sides of the river are just tinder. Down along the river there are all dried out pine trees just full of sap. If a fire gets going it just flies.


They are constantly watching the fires now. My niece has a house at Diamond Lake and her house backs right up to acres of forest and dried brush. The fires are still far from them but the danger of losing her house is very real.


I worry.

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Tommy Coyote it is scary, you are right to worry and watch.


The thing that is scary people are hunting and driving through dry timber and brush and grass and it would take NOTHING to start another fire. That pisses me off. People should think of the consequences of their actions

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George said that they have pretty much canceled the fishing season. He said the water in the Spokane River is so low you can walk across it and it's about 70 degrees. And the same out at the lakes. The fish are so stressed by the warm water that they have asked people not even to catch and release because the fish just die.


Our family has always lived in Spokane and Coeur d Lane (I never can remember how to spell that) and nobody can remember it ever being like this. But I guess they had a really long hot dry spell in 1910. Then a bunch of cold air came in from Canada and there were thunderstorms that started fires everywhere.

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What your dogs have done reminds me a bit of what the SAR dogs do after disasters like 9/11, working through all the stress, noise, fear, commotion, pain, exhaustion, bad air. Being partners above and beyond the everyday work, relying on the foundation built by instinct, good breeding, training, and experience.


God bless you all.

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Not all my dogs could have done this. I had about two weeks to figure out my evacuation team of dogs. Some pocessed almost everything needed but lacked one or two critical things that I felt put them either at greater risk, or would make it harder or impossible to do the job.


One of my toughest cowdogs was left out simply because I must watch him, as he has little feel. I could not watch him.

And he is too hard on sheep. I did not have time to switch dogs. ( Another thing is I needed to have dogs that would work together as a team.)


Another of my dogs would be stressed if there was too much chaos and commotion.... That dog is a great work dog and has trialed and done well, but not for this day.


Sweep the broom, tho he can work cattle could not be expected to dog break cattle at a moments notice and load freaked cows as he really is a sheepdog And Sweep is a grand dog, but not for that day. And he has trialed thro Open.


One of my best dogs I saved out, my bitch Taw as I felt I could not afford to lose her. This is a very sad thing to say. As my heart cannot afford to lose any of them.


My long yearlings were still kinda young, and untested in other things.




My old retired dogs I could not use, tho Gunny could have done this. A rescue dog.


So it fell to Joe, a kelpie, a long two year old, work dog, that doesn't really like to be micro managed


And Jake The Rake, home bred, who had extensive hill work, with cattle and sheep and had worked in the unit. Jake trialed and did nursery and is easy to handle.


It was frightening, but remarkable.


Sad to think of the fires still burning.

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They are just humble old work dogs...and two that did a very good job on a hard hard day. thanks tho, I love them

Unassuming workers who have your back and and come through for you in the most difficult situations are pretty darn special. They're about the only type I really truly trust in both humans and canines.


And you were trustworthy to them by only asking ones who you felt could handle the job to do step up and do it.

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Many generations of Cattlemen and Shepherds stand behind these dogs- breeding them, that for me, turned out to be one purpose.


To not fail me in the fires.

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