Excerpt from "Smokey, A Dog Of My Own"

Uncomfortable in having ventured off our own ranch land, we decided to take a different and shorter route home. Our meandering took us across the big Davis Ranch meadow that was in tall wild hay. It grew a dozen grass and clover types, thickly matted up to our ankles. Higher up, it had thinned a lot with stems and flower tops reaching to our thighs and sometimes above our waists.

The meadow was a mass of life-giving grass. Sage grouse, rabbits, and many kinds of birds rose up, fleeing ahead of us. Smokey was in high adventure seeking out voles and field mice in the thick patches of clover and sedges, bouncing stiff-legged up and down and trying to see them in their little trails. We boys struggled across the dense hay, complaining about the tough traveling and disappointed by not seeing a gory mess in the house. Totally unburdened by our moods our happy dog always seemed to find something interesting to do regardless of the situation around him.

Dad would have punished us if it had been his meadow we were crossing with the hay still standing. We didn't dare tromp down our hay that could later be cut. If the Allards did cut their hay later, our sets of boys’ and dog footprints would be clear trails across the mile long meadow testifying to our trespassing. We struggled along in the thick vegetation having our arrows ready on bowstrings in case we could spot something to shoot in the areas where the vegetation thinned on the higher knolls.

Larry spotted what appeared to be a saddle horse coming from the willows to the east in front of the Michigan River. But as it neared, we saw it was a Brahma coming at us in a lope. It was gray, tall, horned and put fear into our hearts. Allards must be pasturing the "crazy thing" as Dad always referred to Brahmas, and he had warned us about how dangerous they were, even taking a man on horseback.

"Run like hell," Harry yelled, taking off in a sprint.

Since it was way too far to beat the racing animal to any meadow’s line fence, we ran for a wire stack pen as fast as we could in the tall hay. The cow was a hundred yards behind, gaining fast.

"Harry, shall we stop and shoot it, or try for the pen?" I shouted in panic, seeing my younger brother Larry trailing behind, struggling in the tall hay.

Always being the fastest runner and shouting from ahead, he hollered back, "Doubt if we can stop it. It's probably crazy, or it wouldn't be after us."

As we neared the stack pen, I could glance back and see blood below the cow’s left eye and her protruding giant horns. I knew we couldn't make it, and she was going to really hurt someone. Maybe I could divert her and dive aside, I thought, as I stopped and turned. Larry whizzed past me as I notched my arrow and drew the bow with all the strength my sixteen-year-old body could muster.

Before I could release, Smokey leaped up from the tall hay and hit her neck, biting a death grip on her big ear, falling into her front legs, and tripping her down to her knees. Amid the chaos in the grass, Smokey growled as he rolled over with the crazed cow. He hung doggedly onto that big floppy ear, keeping the cow shaking her head, bellowing and trying to loosen his grip. The cow finally shook him loose, or he just let go. I never knew because I was running. We had fled to the nearby stack pen as if our lives depended on it, which they surely did. Sliding under its wires just barely ahead of the panting, crazed bovine, Smokey was now gamely barking and snapping at her heels.

That crazed Brahma cow crashed into the six strands of rusty barbed wires full force, and by some miracle, the old wires held her outside. We were all scared stiff. The energy drained from my body as I watched the crazy thing crash again and again into the fence. It was sheer terror wondering if the wires would hold.

We called Smokey and held him back as we watched the snorting cow race about outside the stack pen seeking a way inside to gore and trample us.