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Brisbane, the Lawrence's second healer, recently passed. (Photo courtesy of Claire Marjory Photography)

Old cattle dog teaches new pup some tricks

It was a wonderful weekend with the opportunity to have everyone home to celebrate the Thanksgiving holiday.

In our home, as in most, we have much to be thankful for. I am my most content and joyful when all are home together. As our children have grown, that happens less and less. This year we were missing a small member of our family, and yesterday, when my son Wyatt called for the dog to help with some cows that were breaching the gate, I realized her absence.

The year my farmer husband and I were married, we were given a very special wedding gift by a fellow cattle breeder. It would prove to be the beginning of a tradition in our family. We received an Australian Cattle Dog (blue healer) pup. That dog proved to be a great companion for me during the first few months of our marriage and a fantastic help working cows.

Albury, the Lawrence's newest healer family member, is named after an Australian city as were the others.Sydney became a part of our family, and for 16 years, she would check on kids at bedtime, watch over the farm and herd cows when needed. In fact, we loved her and the breed so much that when she began to slow down with age, we purchased cattle dog number two.

Seven years ago, Sydney peacefully passed away in front of the fireplace. She has been greatly missed. However, by then, Brisbane (our second) was well on her way to becoming a great help in the field and an adored part of the family. Our oldest son Wyatt and she were like peas and carrots.

It was quickly determined that despite her attachment to Wyatt, she missed her matriarch friend, and so, healer number three joined us. Adelaide has proven to be a wonderful, loyal loving dog. A little short on the cattle sense, but we love her just the same.

As Brisbane continued to age, her energy and fervor for helping out on the farm never wavered despite the obvious decline in her physical body, which began to take its toll. We knew, and dreaded, that she too was coming into the last years of her life. Wyatt was dreading the day of her departure.

In the meantime, while in Kentucky for a Junior National Cattle Show, something unexpected happened. After eight days of showing and competition and as we were preparing for our journey home, a kennel full of purebred healer pups entered the barn. Not realizing that my husband had already seen them, I looked upon them with a longing desire to hold one. He had already made plans to take advantage of this opportunity. Albury would join our family that day with the knowledge that our time with Brisbane would be short.

Our dear Brisbane did pass this year, just a couple of months ago, but not before teaching the pup everything she could. On Saturday, when Wyatt called for Bury to come to his aid and she answered with enthusiasm, I was surprised by the sentimentality that would overtake me. So many things about farming are intertwined and connected to make all things work together. Our dogs over the years have been our companions, as well as our work partners. The relationships my children have experienced as a result of a loyal companion have taught them the love and compassion of true friendship. For that I am thankful.