from Deanna Travis
Publisher & Owner
I don't know the actual numbers, but I'll bet the number of pick-up trucks in Livingston Montana has to be higher than nearly anywhere else, or at least it seems so. And, in the back usually is at least one dog. Sometimes more, but a person's worth in the west is figured on things which may not be the same where you live. The breed of dog is not too important, 'tho big seems to be better than small and small is better than really small. The so-called 'tea-cup' varieties of dog don't seem to fit into the ranching way of life, well except for a friend of ours who has one which rides in a milk crate fastened on the handlebars of his four-wheeler when he rides around the ranch poisoning weeds. But that is an exception, usually the dog(s) are big and equipped with an even larger bark.
In most cases the dog(s) are loose, that is not tied up or restrained in the back of the pick-up. I don't know how many if any are actually lost because of them jumping out or wanting to chase other dogs in other pick-ups or in accidents either, but it just seems like an accident waiting to happen.
I also suspect there are more dogs here than in other like communities, that is something I was aware of when we lived in Montana before. I guess it just seems like the right thing to do, live 'out west' and have a dog. Probably a horse too, but that gets into the 'mine is better' category pretty quickly with Quarter Horse, cutting horse or Arab for the bragging rights.
I've left out the belt buckle and boots, but they really are the other two possessions which count. The belt buckle should be a big one which the owner earned by his expertise in the rodeo circuit (and if you didn't 'rodeo' the next best is big loaded with turquoise) The boots should be Tony - short for Tony Lama, and snake skin or ostrich. There are a lot of choices for boots, but trust me that's first and second choice.
It doesn't seem to me that cowboy hats are as big here as they once were. I still see some, but not like it was twenty years ago. Back then if you just visited here you made a western store the first stop so you could pick up your hat (and they had the boots too). I am seeing quite a few Tilley hats here now, and they make sense for here, especially since they are completely washable and hold up in the rain as well.
We've had very few sunny days since we've been home, but when the sun does shine again folks need to remind themselves that the sun at this altitude does bad things for people (kids) in vehicles as well as dogs.
Our vet sent out a flyer in the mail recommending microchips in case of escape or theft of pets and living in Big Sky country makes one aware of how big the region really is. People get lost on a regular basis so not too surprising that critters can get lost as well. If we had a dog I would surely want to have a microchip installed.
I've mentioned before my husband Trav and I have four cats (yes, I know but they sleep most of the time). Many years ago after we all had moved to Montana, the late JC and I and Trav had beautiful male Labradors, actually they were brothers. Interestingly both dogs were the very favorites for all of us. That was good breeding, they both went through obedience training and the dogs worked really hard to please us.
The problem with really wonderful dogs is they become family and losing them hits much too hard. I enjoy our cats a lot, but they aren't the same as a terrific dog. (No, don't write me a nasty gram on that, I get it, really.)
I do want to make a couple of points - unless you have a dog which is extremely well obedience trained, do not take it fishing with you. The dangers are just too great - and I mean dangers for the dog not you, I expect anyone reading FAOL should know how to manage in the outdoors, but a dog in a strange place - not so much. Don't leave the dog in a locked vehicle either, if you are in a strange place check the local veterinary, they often will 'board' your dog for the day at a very reasonable cost. This can be especially important if you are in rattlesnake country! If you know your dog is going to be exposed to rattlesnakes have it vaccinated against rattlesnake venom. The vaccine allows the dog to build up immunity against the venom and reduces the need to use very expensive antivenin for treatment.
And if you are traveling with your dog, make sure you have the microchip installed. Can you imagine how you would feel if your dog got loose and was lost? How about the dog? If you're going to have pets you simply must take care of them. That includes keeping windows rolled down and parking in the shade whenever possible to prevent heat stroke in pets.
I have noticed more 'crates', large dog carriers in the back of pick-ups here than when I lived here before. Because it really isn't summer (or even spring for sure) here yet, I have noticed covers on the crates to keep the dogs warm. They also help keep the critters dry as well and that's a good thing. [Editor's note: This column was written when it was still undecided whether it was winter or spring yet]
One other little tip; if you are traveling with your pet(s) make sure you have a supply of any medication, the food they are accustomed to eating and if there is any question about the quality of the water on the trip take a large container for drinking water just for the pets. Strange water can mess up a dog or cat's plumbing just like yours. That's a problem you don't want while you are traveling.
Hope you and your family do have the opportunity and finances to get out and away this summer, be careful and stay safe. ~ LadyFisher