By: Tonya Stevenson
All of our kids have had special dogs. They got that love from their father. Our middle daughter, Tavia had one really exceptional dog named Tippy.
Tavia as an early teen took an interest in sled dogs and bought a husky female, Wapiti, to start a team. Well my son had a big loyal Australian Shepherd named Lucky. As things go, we had an accidental batch of puppies, to Tavia’s great pleasure. She used four of those pups to complete her sled team. The big brown pup with white toes became her best buddy and lead dog.
Our tomboy daughter taught Tippy tricks like taking things to the trash, loading luggage into her ride, carrying water, leading her horses and finding any member of the family by name.
At seventeen, this independent daughter started working on ranches. Tippy went with her becoming her cow dog, hat fetcher and constant companion. He used his nose to push leaves of hay out of the pickup to feed horses as Tavia drove. She also hit the rodeo trail including traveling back east riding bulls for Worlds Toughest Rodeo’s. Often she traveled alone in her old red car, with the exception of Tippy and her pistol. Generally Tippy was friendly, but he was very loyal, thus protective of Tavia; a comfort to her “worry wart” parents.
Tavia didn’t think there was anything Tippy couldn’t do, and if she asked, he tried. One fall Tavia’s boss needed a Loomix tub on the opposite side of a creek that they couldn’t get to. Tavia sent Tippy across the creek for it. It was big and awkward for the dog to handle, but he determinedly drug it to the creek and wisely maneuvers it across the water.
One cold fall morning, after having work done on both shoulders from rodeo injuries, Tavia needed to gather a couple stray pairs seven miles from the house. She was also starting two colts at the time, one was pretty raunchy. This morning she decided to ride her gentler colt and lead the bronc, hoping to work both. After she finds the cows, this bronc decides he does not want to lead anymore. He starts falling back, bucking and lunging into the saddle with them, wrapping the lead around Tavia, as the gentler colt bolts. Tavia was flung hard. Her hat flew off, a boot pulled loose in the stirrup and she lost both horses. She was on the back side of the mountain alone with no cell service and hurting. Tippy fetched her hat, and boot for her. She then sent him after her horses, which he caught hold of and led back to her.
The gentler colt now wanted nothing to do with leading the other, so Tavia gave the job to Tippy. The colt would balk, but Tippy would persistently run back and forth pulling until the colt gave up and followed. Tavia said it actually worked real well because the cows with calves had more respect for Tippy with a horse following him. As they were going through a neighbor’s pasture of cows Tippy took the back while Tavia rode the sides to keep the cattle from mixing. Along comes Roger, the brand inspector. He watches Tippy leading a horse and driving the cows. When Tavia pops back over the hill Roger is talking to Tippy. He tells Tavia, “I had to introduce myself. I thought I had good dogs.”
Tavia married later that fall, she put a scarf on Tippy and made him the ring boy. Though a little timid of the big crowd, he did it. At first, Tippy liked Jason; but Tavia was his. As Tavia put it they “warred” the first year.
Tavia and Jason took a job running yearlings on the mountain the next summer. Doctoring wild steers in heavy timber was a challenge. If Tavia couldn’t get a shot at roping them she’d holler at Tippy. He would grab them by the nose and hold them till she could drop a loop over them. Once when they finished doctoring a big smoky steer, he got up on the fight, hit Jason knocking him down. In came Tippy, grabbing the steer by the nose and taking him off into the brush, saving Jason; as he previously had Tavia.
Gathering, Tippy would take a trail leading them to wild brushed up steers. When a bunch of steers balled up and refused to go through a gate, Tippy took it upon himself to push one through, then stepped back to let the others follow. Tavia was gifted with Tippy for fourteen years.
Well done Tippy-toes, truly you proved a good and faithful servant. I only hope my Lord can say the same of me.