Rosco was our beloved Border Collie-Springer Spaniel. Roscoe was the victim of a vehicle-meets-pet accident. Judging from the scene, though, Rosco died instantly. (photo submitted)
Rosco was our beloved Border Collie-Springer Spaniel. Roscoe was the victim of a vehicle-meets-pet accident. Judging from the scene, though, Rosco died instantly. (photo submitted)
"Until one has loved an animal, a part of one's soul remains unawakened."

-Anatole France

When I was seven years old, I accidentally skewered a toad with a pitchfork while digging for earthworms to go fishing for suckers. Horrified, I plucked the toad off the tine of the fork, placed it in my worm pail, and ran to the barn where my dad was milking. I showed him the toad, told him what happened, and asked him to fix the toad.

The poor toad's innards were extruding from his wounds. My dad told me there was nothing he could do to fix it. He said I should just go put it back where I found it. Tears spilling down my face, I did as he suggested. I cried the rest of the evening.

To this day, my cousins still tease me about saving the toad.

Fast-forward twenty years to the story of our three-legged cat.

I like to think that I've come to better accept mortality, especially the mortality of animals. The truth is, though, that little girl with the toad in her bucket is still alive inside me.

The last time I was pregnant (i.e., highly emotional), Betty, one of my house cats, was run over by a car while out hunting one night. She managed to drag herself to one of the sheds where I found her, with two broken legs, fighting off one of the stray cats.

All alone that morning, the seven-year-old inside of me took over. Without a second thought, I called the vet, called Glen, and promptly left for the vet clinic. Tears streaming down my face, I whisked Betty into the exam room and asked the vet on call if she could be saved.

I think, judging by the stage of my pregnancy, the vet clinic staff thought my emotional state was going to send me into labor right there in their clinic. They kindly kept offering me water, tissues, and a chair.

Betty's hind legs were broken but there were no internal injuries. I stood there looking between the x-rays and my beloved cat. I did manage to ask about the estimated price of repairing her injuries versus having her euthanized, but that's as far as I got. In my heart, I simply couldn't be responsible for her death.

Glen, in one of his most loving moments, and, I know, against the counsel of every fiduciary fiber in his body, finally took me in his arms and said, "Okay, we'll fix Betty."

So we did.

Given the chance, we would have tried to fix Rosco as well. He, too, was the victim of a vehicle-meets-pet accident. Judging from the scene, though, Rosco died instantly. We laid him to rest last Friday along with our hopes and dreams for his future. His passing proved the old cliche that the good die young.

Rosco was our beloved Border Collie-Springer Spaniel. He came to be ours last winter after my sister, knowing we were looking for a Border Collie, saw a poster for him and his litter mates on a bulletin board at work.

We brought him home with the hope that he'd learn to keep the cats out of the mangers in the barn and how to chase the cows out of the pond. We figured a Collie-Spaniel pedigree ought to make the perfect cow-water dog.

He quickly fulfilled our first wish. He patrolled the barn as if he were sheriff of the farm. If a cat chose to run, he gave chase. All but two relocated themselves to the machine shed. The two who remained became Rosco's chew toys. He never inflicted any harm; he just liked to chew on them.

Now that the sheriff is gone, lawlessness has returned to the farm. The cats are everywhere. And so are the chickens.

When we let the layers out this spring, Rosco took it upon himself to make sure they never ventured past the imaginary line between the barn and the grain bin. Go figure - our collie-spaniel "cow dog" would herd chickens but not cattle.

We loved him more, not less, for his proclivity. He was as gentle with the hens as he was with our little boy.

Watching Dan and Rosco grow up together... I don't know how to put it in words. It was so enjoyable for me to watch them play. Imagining how much fun they'd have next summer when Dan would be able to keep up a little better. It was so reassuring to know that Dan was safe with Rosco.

In fact, the only bad thing about a dog like Rosco, is that now Dan thinks every dog can be tugged on, tackled, pinched, and pushed around.

The hardest part of losing Rosco was watching Dan walk outside, look around, and say, "puppy". But his puppy didn't come. He won't remember Rosco - only through pictures - but we will.

I'll remember him every time I park Dan in his stroller in the center aisle of the barn. We had to lock the brakes on the stroller or Dan would grab onto Rosco's ears and Rosco would pull him sled-dog-style down the aisle, eventually landing the stroller in the gutter.

I'll remember our daily race to see who can find the hens' eggs first.

Goodbye, Rosco. I'll never forget you. I would have saved you, but the matter was out of my hands.

Sadie and her husband, Glen, milk 50 cows near Melrose, Minnesota with 'help' from their one-year-old son, Dan. When she's not farming, she's writing for the Dairy Star. She can be reached at gsfrericks@meltel.net.