This is a personal story about a puppy who would have been a reject in most breeders’ eyes. For some unexplained reason, she was a “keeper” in the eyes of a three year old child.
Her name was Martin’s Buster Brown Shoe and she was whelped in 1971. There were several black tri puppies with the cream colored copper, typical of dogs descended from Mansker’s Anna Lee through Taylor’s Whiskey. One little female was so timid she wouldn’t come out from under the dog house. Three year old Randy decided this was his puppy. He would crawl under the dog house and drag out that frightened puppy and hold her by the hour. If she could escape, she scrambled back to her den as fast as she could. He began calling her “my Buster Brown Shoe Puppy”. Since she had a mask marking on her face, it obviously came from the shoe logo although no one knew where he had seen it.
The last thing I wanted was to keep a terrified black puppy when the litter had produced my first red merle. Reds were terribly rare at that time. The only ones I had ever seen were Taylor’s Whiskey and Hosmer’s Jill, who were always at the horse shows. Trying to talk Randy into keeping Fudge instead was useless. I even put Buster Brown in a stall in the barn, told him I had sold her and brought Fudge in the house for him. After two days of the child still crying about his lost puppy, I relented and brought her back. At that point I decided something must be done and brought her in the house. She was terrified. If I put her on Randy’s bed, she never moved all night. If I brought her into the living room, she huddled under an end table the entire time.
|Eventually Buster got to where she would creep out if no one moved and lie beside Randy on the floor. Randy constantly corrected the pronunciation of her name saying, “You don’t say it that way. It’s Buster BROWN Shoe”, putting all the emphasis on “BROWN”. Over the years, he did shorten it to Buster Brown and eventually to Buster.|
Randy never wavered on loving that puppy. I used to be so angry with her when she wouldn’t even come in the house at night for me. I could call and coax forever, and she would stand out in the yard unmoving. Then her little boy would come to the door and barely whisper, “Buster BROWN Shoe”, and she would tear into the house. I can still see her skidding and sliding all over the linoleum floor in her frantic dash for his bedroom. He used to say, “Buster BROWN Shoe is spinning her wheels!”
Buster was two years old before she ever left her back yard. We had about 75 calves with pink-eye that we had to doctor every day (no wonder drugs then). They were getting very difficult to put through the chute and we were using dogs. That day I decided to take Buster Brown along to see what she would do. She took one look at what we were doing and within minutes was helping push calves through the chute and on into the next pen after they were doctored. The only problem we had was keeping her from biting the calves while they were in the chute being treated.
Then a strange thing happened. From the day she worked those calves forward, she became friendly with the whole family and people we knew. Her entire attitude about life had changed with that one experience. She still lived on Randy’s bed but accepted other people too. I could even call her into the house!
I trailed Buster in some of ASCA’s early trials, but she was always Randy’s dog. She started out a driving dog, but I finally got her to go to the head. She liked that so well I wished she had never learned it. I knew nothing about training a trial dog (luckily, neither did very many others), but Buster was always popular at the trials. I remember a comment Walt Lamar put on a score sheet in Colorado, “Dog bites ear. Quite effective in turning cattle”. Buster did lack finesse on the head when she got mad and nothing made her madder than getting stepped on or run over.
I remember when the Nationals were in Kansas City and I had Buster entered. The dogs were loaded and I was heading for Colorado from Utah to pick up Leslie Sorensen and Cathy Jones and their dogs. Randy was about eight then and was crying. All he could say was, “my Buster BROWN Shoe”. I was unloading her to leave her home when he told me no, she should ge to go and work at a big show. I never felt right about taking her after that.
Buster just raised a few litters of puppies, among them was Renn and Shiree Christiansen’s Brushwood Kita and Slash V Frosted Skotch who was sold to J.T. Walters. Her granddaughter, CH Brushwood Buckeye Charm CD ATDsd OTDc STDh was once the most titled bitch in the breed. So many of her puppies went to special homes and formed special bonds with their owners.
Randy’s life growing up with Buster was one of the wonderful experiences of a child and a dog. The time I knew just how much she meant to him was one day when he had gotten into trouble and been sent to his room. I heard him talking and went to the door, wondering who he could be talking to. He was sitting on the bed with his dog telling her, “They don’t love me, Buster. No one in the whole world loves me except you.” This was repeated over and over in various ways while I stood there in the hall with tears streaming down my face. It was a personal experience that brought home just what a comfort the love of a special dog can bring.
Randy, Buster BROWN Shoe, and Black Powder Toby
Randy was a senior in high school when it became obvious Buster was suffering from her old age. We discussed what had to be done, and Randy asked me to take care of it but not to tell him when. It was a week after I took her to the vet that Randy came to me and simply asked, “Where is Buster buried?” I told him and he silently turned and went outside.
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