Ever since Weebeast was about 4 years old, he's attempted to claim every cow dog puppy that came our way. It worked well while they were too small to go along with Husbeast on his daily rounds, but as they got older and he could take them with him on a daily basis, they gradually became part of his crew and didn't hang with Weebeast much after that.
B.B. came along when Weebeast was about 9 years old. Husbeast had been after a puppy out of a dog called Bandit who belongs to a friend of ours. His chance finally arrived and B.B. came in to the picture. Once again, Weebeast claimed her. There was something different about this dog and when she became old enough to start tagging along for chores and riding on the truck she had made her choice too. She claimed Weebeast.
Husbeast and Weebeast went round and round about names for her and finally settled on B.B. for "Bandit's Baby." Weebeast would also point out that she was called BB8 because of the pattern on her side that made an 8 if you looked at it just right.
These two quickly became inseparable. Wherever Weebeast went, B.B. was close by. She knew where he was at every moment of the day and looked forward to his adventures. When she was a few months old she was afraid to ride on the truck and she would get carsick. Weebeast would load her and ride with her and it didn't take long for her to get accustomed to our many trips around the ranch in the pickup. Soon enough she was jumping the sides of pickups if she knew that Weebeast had already loaded up.
He taught her tricks using dog food for treats or scraps from left over dinners. They played hide and seek...he would down her and tell her to stay, then he would find a place to hide and let out a whistle. She would wait for that signal and search the yard until she found him. They played baseball together with Weebeast at bat and B.B. fetching the balls back to him each time he knocked one out of the park. There were naps together on the trampoline, hours spent building forts out of pallets, down in the willows by the creek or in the snow mountains Husbeast created when he plowed snow out of the yard.
On a trip back from visiting family, we stopped to have lunch in a very small town. We parked the truck in the shade and had B.B. tied in the back so we could watch her. From the restaurant window we could see her howl on occasion, looking for her boy. At one point I looked up and saw her running across the street. I grabbed Weebeast because I knew I wouldn't be able to bring her back without him. She had chewed through her leash and jumped out to come and find him.
B.B. tolerated me and Husbeast on those occasions when she knew her boy was gone. She would go on the morning irrigating rounds or to feed cows and sometimes she met me in the kitchen hoping I would offer up a snack. I did...I enjoyed those moments when she gave me that attention. We were definitely second rate to her boy though and we accepted that. We appreciated it too because we knew that no one could harm Weebeast as long as he had B.B. with him. She was very protective of him against other dogs and other people. One time he and his sister were playing and B.B. thought he was in danger. She jumped up and nipped his sister!!
They had quite a bond that few are lucky enough to experience.
This spring, Weebeast starting riding with Husbeast quite a bit more and he started taking B.B. along so they could learn about moving and working cows together. Sometimes B.B. would take off after a rock chuck or a squirrel and Weebeast would have to holler at her to come back. Those temptations were fun but she always came back to him. Early in July they headed up to turn bulls out with the cows. They had split the bunch into two groups and had just finished bringing the second group around the mountain and decided to stop for lunch. Weebeast had seen B.B. sniffing around as if she were looking for a squirrel. He and Husbeast dropped down into a bowl where there was a spring and whistled for B.B. She didn't show. They spent a few minutes enjoying their snacks and a break and headed out again. B.B. still hadn't come to them. They whistled and called and looked around for half an hour with no luck and decided she had chased after something. There was no doubt in either of their minds that she would find her boy soon.
When they arrived home later that evening Weebeast told me B.B. was missing. We all felt certain she would be home the next morning when her adventure had ended.
The next day we all awoke with that hope, but it wasn't to be. We went back up and looked and called and whistled and made a second trip to leave one of Weebeast's shirts there in the hopes she would wait for us there. We had seen vehicle tracks in the area and thought maybe someone was able to catch her. I had my doubts though because I was almost certain that she would never go with anyone unless her boy was along for the ride too.
A week after she went missing, Weebeast and I went up to put mineral out for the cows. I wanted to give it one more look where they had last seen her. I sent Weebeast one way and I went around to come in from a different side. We met on a small hill in the middle.
"I think she's dead," he told me.
"How do you know?" I asked.
"You know that smell when you smell a dead cow? I got a whiff of that."
My heart sunk a little and I asked him to walk me back to where he had noticed it. I got a small whiff of it as well. Once again we spread out, each of us taking a dog along for help. I went high and was on a rim rock when one of the dogs locked on to something in the brush. I asked Weebeast what she had found.
Was it my mistake to let him look? Should I have come down before I said anything and found her myself? Or was it okay for Weebeast to turn around at my question and see B.B, there in the brush? I will never know the answer to that, but I do know that when he spotted his dog he yelled and turned away and cried and cried and cried. I couldn't get off that damn hill fast enough to get to him and hold him and let him cry.
We had found B.B. but it sure wasn't the way we wanted the story to end. We had our closure but we all have so many questions. We have no idea what happened that day but the one thing I do know, based on where we found her and the direction she was heading...she was once again, looking for her boy.