The job of a freelance reporter should not have include the births, deaths, or marriages of a community.
However, I am taking exception to that rule by honouring a friend of mine who passed away a short time ago, whose name will never make it into any obituary column or into the rosters of the Hall of Fame. But those who knew and loved a dog named Kelpie would agree he deserves recognition and that his life served a purpose.
Thus I honour him with my words today.
Farm dogs are those faithful creatures that live and die without so much as a pause in the world around them. They guard the farmhouse, their loud, dependable bark announces incoming cars and trucks, making doorbells unnecessary. Within a five-second sniff of a truck wheel, an average farm dog can determine exactly where a vehicle has been on any one day and being sociable creature, a farm dog worth his salt, is obliged to leave a polite hello on the wheel to greet the next farm dog. Farm dogs take farm families for walks, they picnic with the boss as he stops momentarily to grab a sandwich on a hot day in the field when a black cloud heavy in the sky suggested a rain storm . Their job description is endless.
But getting back to a dog named Kelpie. He was a farm dog for sure; but he was just that much different, one could not forget him.
Picture getting out of one's car to be greeted by Kelpie, a rainbow of doggie colours from blue to grey to copper. Picture two blue eyes dancing with enthusiasm for what reason one is not sure — at first. Then picture this shepherd dog whose forefathers originated in the grasslands of Australia–for that was his ancestry–presenting you with a huge stick and with all his doggie body language tell you to throw that stick.
Over those years of knowing Kelpie I threw sticks for him as far as I could, as high as I could, even up a tree and on a shed roof. He never once was unable to retrieve that stick or branch. He must have been part cat, his climbing techniques certainly not the norm for any other farm dog I had met. If I dared to enter that farmhouse to pay the owners a visit, that beautiful creature would just rest nearby, tongue out indicating he was laughing and eyes shining knowing he could anticipate further fun as soon as I exited.
And then it would begin again; he had a job to do.
Had the herding instinct of long ago being transposed into stick chasing? I don't know, but I do know he demanded my attention.
From each life there is a lesson to be learned and as I saw it, from Kelpie I learned that he knew he had a job to do, and he would make it happen. His determination came from the heart, and it was easy for me to call it, Kelpie Spirit.
Farmers are a perfect example of that same Kelpie Spirit. Farmers ask only for some agreeable weather and they will work from dawn to dusk to get the job done. They ask for neither dental plan nor sick leave, overtime pay nor early retirement benefits. They have always just chased sticks, brought them back and started again. That has always been a way of life so intrinsically rewarding, that very few farmers can be pried away from it.
Kelpie, your people will always remember you. Your enthusiasm will be recalled for years to come. The Kieffer grandchildren will have a lifelong love of canines, because of you.
Kelpie, as you have gone, so is a big bit of farming disappearing. We will learn to honour your Kelpie Spirit however and if we are wise, we will try to enthusiastically keep the virtues of farming alive.
As I see it, the drive to chase that stick for no other reason than because it is there, has been beaten out of us by an economy that does not allow for the family farm, the Kelpie Spirit.
Will that enthusiasm for the job be there for the next generation?