Perhaps you had seen Booger, our Great Pyrenees dog, riding around town in the back of the little Ranger pickup. From that vantage point, he loved to watch people and to feel the wind in his face. He could often be found observing the world from the back of that little truck in front of Super S or at the post office.
Booger was a wanderer. For that reason, we usually confined him to his pen or kept him on a leash or on a light chain in the shade of the porch. Over the years we have lost two dogs to the guns of neighbors when they wandered off our property. One was a rescued Siberian Husky, the other an adopted Greyhound. Folks who live in rural environments and raise livestock don’t take kindly to stray dogs—and with good reason. We exercised due diligence to keep Booger from suffering a similar fate.
Booger weighed in at 125 pounds and his long, beautiful, white fur made him appear even bigger than he was. He was often compared to a polar bear. He loved a parade and participated in several, both in El Paso and in Blanco. He craved the attention of people and especially responded to children. Despite his great size, which could be intimidating, I was always surprised at how many children would just walk up to him, put their arms around him and give him a hug. To them he was like a great big teddy bear. They seemed to sense that he wouldn’t hurt them.
On several occasions I took Booger to school with me. The elementary kids would flock to him and make a fuss over him. Unlike some other dogs we have had, never once did I see him get impatient with children or snap at anybody.
Great Pyrenees have a reputation for protecting sheep, goats, and other livestock. Although they are not often seen, there are quite a few working on farms and ranches throughout the Hill Country doing what they were bred to do. When they’re on the job, they might not take kindly to folks who invade “their territory.” They are certainly not friendly to other dogs, coyotes, and other predators that they feel might endanger their charges. As guard dogs, they can take out interlopers quickly and efficiently.
Now, Booger was not without faults. He had a need to show the other dogs in the household who was dominant. He didn’t hurt them but he was known to pin one down now and then just to show who was boss. Yet, when we walked them together on leashes, they were best buddies.
One day my wife noticed that there weren’t as many little chicks following the hen around the place and she voiced her suspicions that Booger might have had something to do with it. I assured her that Booger would never hurt one of those cute little bundles of pinfeathers. Then it happened. I saw him chase those little chickens down and gobble them up one at a time without even stopping to chew.
But he never bothered the mature chickens. In fact, he would lay there with his great head resting on his paws and, within inches of his nose, let them eat the food right out of his dish. The cats were safe and even the squirrels got no more than a bored glance. In the middle of the night, however, he would bark at the deer that wandered onto the place.
One night he shared the pasture with the cows. It was well after dark and he was going crazy barking at something. I took a flashlight and went to investigate. He was harassing a possum that was playing possum. Although the critter wasn’t moving a muscle, Booger knew that it was alive and up to no good. I restrained the big dog for a few minutes and shortly the possum got up and ambled off into the night.
He delighted in chasing the horses out of the corral after they had eaten their morning and evening meals. All I had to do was to open the gate and, as if that were a signal, he would take after them nipping at their heels until they were back out into the pasture.
On one occasion, I took Booger with me to a gun show in San Antonio. It was winter so I wasn’t worried about leaving him in the back of the pickup’s camper shell while I went inside. When I returned I let him out to stretch. A man carrying a couple of rifles stopped to observe him. “Now, that’s a dog!” he declared.
Now, Booger had been known to jump over or through a fence during a thunderstorm but, other than that, he was pretty good about not challenging an enclosure. For some reason, though, last week he tried to force his way through a closed gate and got hung up. It cost him his life. We’re saddened that he is gone. On the other hand, we’re grateful to have had him as long as we did. He will be greatly missed around the old homestead.