Oconto County WIGenWeb Project
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Memoirs:

Written and contributed by: Richard La Brosse

BOOTS


From left to right: Dick, Boots, and Jeanette La Brosse
Photo taken about 1952
Boots was born in the spring of 1951.  She came to us when she was about 3 months old.  We had just bought this farm and needed a cow dog.
 
Since the man who picked up the milk every morning stopped at many other farmers’ places, we asked him if he knew of anybody that had a good cow dog.  He said that his dog had puppies about 3 months ago and that he still had one of them.  They were half Spitz and heaven knows what else and we could have it for nothing.  We went to his home that night and got the dog.  It was black and had four white feet.  That's why her name was Boots.   Then the story started the very next morning.  The milkman stopped his truck at the milk house, walked inside and started carrying out the first can.  His own puppy grabbed him by the pants leg and started growling and shaking for all she had.  The milkman
laughed so hard he almost fell over.  From that very day, Boots would let anybody on the property and would announce him or her with a few barks and nothing else.  But, just let them try to leave the property with something in their hand and Boots would get between them and their vehicle and would not let them by until they dropped whatever they had.

 This was good for us, as we never had to worry about somebody stealing anything, day or night.  The TV repairman could come into the house with his box of parts, but he could not leave.  Any salesman could come into the house carrying what they were selling, but could not leave.  I can't count the times we had to go outside and lock Boots in the barn until somebody had left.  Then one day, our neighbor ran out of gas with his tractor right next to where we were working the back 40.  He came up to the fence and asked if he could go to our place and get five gallons of gas so he could finish before the rain came.  We told him it would be ok, but that we would have to go back and meet him there, as the dog would not let him leave.  He said, that dog had never gave him a problem before and said we did not have to bother going all the way back with him.  Twenty minutes later the neighbor was back by the fence. We stopped and he started laughing.  He said he drove in, took the can out of the back of the truck, filled it at the drum and started back.  The dog would not let him leave.  He said the can of gas is sitting in the yard and had a hard time asking if we could go back with him because he was laughing so hard.  There were too many times that this very same thing happened over the years and not one of those times did Boots ever bite anyone.  Just and unbelievable amount of barking, growling, teeth showing and running from side to side in front of the person trying to leave.  Intimidation in action.

Boots was the perfect dog.  None since her ever came close.  We would go out in the morning to the barn, let down the gate at the barn yard, walk across the road and let that gate down and tell Boots, "get the cows” She would go out in the field and gather the entire herd into a bunch and bringthem back to the barn and never make the cows even walk fast.  What was funny was when there was fog.  Boots never lost a cow. Every timeevery cow was in the herd and they would all come walking out of the fog with Boots a short distance behind.  Since the herd had to cross the road,somebody always had to be on both sides so the cows would not go up or down the road.  One day, one of us was sick and there was no one towatch one side.  Boots got the herd started across the road and then ran to the side where there was nobody and sat down in the middle of theroad.  I will never be able to figure that out.  The neighbors on both sides of us would see the dog out in the field gathering the cows every morningand would just shake their heads as they were herding their own cattle by walking all the way out with their dogs at their sides.  After the cows werein the barn, Boots would lay in the open door and wait until milking was done and it was time to put the herd back into the fields.

Lying in the doorway waiting for milking to get done.  That brings up another part of the life of Boots.  She was doing just that when a summer thunderstorm came up.  My mother was sitting about ten feet from the dog in the middle of the walk waiting for the milker to get done on the cow it was on.  A bolt of lightening came down and hit Boots, picked her up and threw her out into the barnyard about 30 feet away.  The ball of fire rolled into the barn and down the walk and went into the steel stanchion.  The entire row of cows went to their knees.  None were killed, but try and milk them after that.  Boots ran and hid somewhere and did not come out until the next morning.  Nothing seemed to be wrong with her and the normal daily routine started once again.  Only now we had a weather-warning dog.  The sky would be clear and Boots would start shaking.  She would shake so hard and whine until we let her into the house.  Then she would stop.  So, we got an old rug and kept it next to the door and when a storm came, Boots would lay there until it was gone.  She could hear thunder an hour before any of us and we always knew when a storm was coming.

Boots knew where our property lines were, how, we don't know.  Sometimes the neighbor’s cows and pigs would get out of their fields and get into ours.  Boots would round them all up and chase them back through the hole in the fence they came through.

Pigs, Boots hated pigs.  One funny story came of this.  Our pigs were in an old out building with one wall torn out and replaced with a snow fence.  Well, the pigs got through it one morning and four or five of them got loose in the barnyard.  Boots was right on there little short curly tails.  Of course, the pigs had no intentions of going back through that hole in the fence and the chase commenced.  Around and around the barnyard they went.  My sister, who was about three or four years old, was sitting on a hill in the barnyard next to the milk house.  She was playing with her favorite toy, a small baby buggy she used to push her dolls around in.  Anyway, here came one pig with Boots right on it’s tail and the pig hit the buggy and tipped it over and got tangled up in the canvas.  The pig went through the bottom of the little buggy and got hung up.  The pig went around the yard with the buggy around its body and my sister standing there crying at the top of her lungs.  It wasn’t funny to here, but Dad, Mom and me sure thought it was.  Boots got all the pigs back in their shed and the buggy was repaired.

Then there was the time when my sister was about three or four years old.  The road our farm was on was gravel.  The town grader would go by, first on one side then the other, spreading the gravel and leveling it.  After the first pass, the grader would leave this huge soft pile of fresh gravel in the center of the road.  Well, my sister saw this and decided that would be a good place to play.  So, she and boots headed off to the road.  You all know how little kids are, they can get away from you so fast.  She sat down right on top of that pile of soft gravel in the middle of the road.  Back in those days, there was no traffic on our little road back in the farming country.  When we heard a car coming down the gravel road, we would all run to the window to see who it was.  Well, this day, at just the right time, a couple of cars decided to use this road.  Boots saw them coming and went a little ways towards them and sat down on the road and would not let them pass.  Mom heard the cars stop and she went to the window to see why.  From that day on my sister never again played on the road.  Boots earned her keep in many ways and I guess this was the best one.

Boots was with us for fifteen years.  Towards the end, we all knew we had to have another dog soon.  But, Boots had other ideas.  We got a pup from somebody and there was no problem at all.  Then later in the day, the pup was gone and so was Boots.   She had taken him out onto the road and was just sitting there.  I figured it out after a while.  She was waiting for a car to come along and get rid of this stranger.  Boots never went on the road in her entire life unless it was while she was herding cattle.  Now, she was there with this pup every time we looked in the other direction.  The pup never did get hit by a car.

One morning we went to the barn and put down the gates and Boots was not there.  We all knew something was wrong.  When the cows were in the barn, we went back to the house and there she was, laying on the lawn headed for the field.  Old age had finally taken its toll.

Many dogs came and went over the years, but not one of them could even come close to what Boots was to us, a working member of our family.



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