We Were Cowboys Once, and Brave


My Grandad cowboyed on the McIntyre ranch – the largest ranch in Alberta – back in the 1930’s. For extra money he’d hunt coyotes for a bounty – the ranch paid $5 per pelt. (It might have been $2 – the financial details are lost to time at this point.) To hunt coyotes you need dogs – coyotes can stay out of rifle range easy enough on the prairie but dogs – the right dogs – can run’ em down. My Grandad had 5-6 greyhounds and they’d run the coyote. Coyotes are cagey and will run along the fence line, under the wire, around and about the posts, creating obstacles for pursuers who aren’t as agile. But the greyhounds were faster and with the hounds on either side of the fence there was nowhere to hide. He had a wolfhound too. I’ve heard family members recollect that it was in Irish wolfhound, but then others say that no, it was a Russian wolfhound.  At any rate, once the greyhounds had run the coyote down and brought it to bay the wolfhound would move in for the kill. It was born and bred for that one singular purpose, and Granddad had a little extra cash at a time when extra cash was hard to come by.

In the picture above the wolfhound is at his left foot.


This picture is my Great Grandfather. He was a blacksmith by trade. I look at that picture and think he cut a fine figure atop a horse. I bet he hunted coyotes with his steely gaze alone. Drove ’em off the land and they didn’t return until ’76.

At any rate, we were Cowboys and Blacksmiths once – the goddamn manliest of men. Now I write fiction – typically about shady deals with girls that end with me the narrator crying alone on public transit.

The other night Great-Grandad came to me in a dream and just stared at me, not speaking. Someone had to say something, so I told him I wanted to try a new slow cooker chicken soup recipe that day – something with fennel and maybe even tarragon. His expression never changed. The phrase ” … DaFuq?” didn’t exist back then but the facial expression certainly did.

Over and out little dogies, I gotta giddy-on



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