K & I used to read them all of the time when we were little, but the first book in the series is still my favorite. "The Original Adventures of Hank the Cowdog" is where it alllll begins..
"Guts, glory, danger, and sacrifice are all in a day's work for Hank the Cowdog, Head of Ranch Security. While investigating a vicious murder on the ranch, he finds himself to be the number one suspect. Resigning in a fit of despair, he heads for the hills to become an outlaw, & a band of ruthless coyotes is happy to teach him the trade. Or are they? They seem to be on his side... until they unveil their plan for a raid on Hank's ranch! Hank knows he can't beat them - will he be forced to join them?"
You've got to read some of the books! They are hilarious & yet so.. real! The books are told from Hank's perspective, who keeps the ranch in working condition along with his dopey side-kick, Drover.
This is my favorite chapter of all time, from the first book.. enjoy(:
The BoxerI slept late the next morning. To be real honest about it, I didn't wake up till sometime in the early afternoon. Guess all that monster fighting kind of wore me down.
What woke me up was the sound of the flatbed pickup rattling up to the gas tank, right in front of my bedroom. He looked at me, gave his head a shake and said something under his breath. I tried to read his lips but couldn't make out what he said. Probably wasn't the Pledge of Allegiance.
Slim went around the front of the pickup and opened up the hood. I was just getting up, right in the middle of a nice stretch, when I heard him say, "Hank, come here, boy."
Geeze, at last a friendly voice. How long had it been since someone had spoken to me in a kind voice? In my job, nobody ever says a word when you do something right, only when you make a mistake, and then you hear plenty about it.
I trotted around to the front of the pickup - limped, actually, because I was pretty stove up from the battle - wagged my tail and said howdy. Slim bent down and rubbed me behind the ears.
"Good dog," he said.
Good dog! I just melted on those words, rolled over on my back and kicked all four legs in the air. It's amazing what a few kind words and a smile can do for a dog. Even as hardboiled as I am, which is something you have to be in my line of work, I respond to kindness.
Slim rubbed me in that special place at the bottom of my ribs, the one that's somehow hooked up to my back leg. I've never understood the mechanics of it, but if a guy scratches me there it makes my back leg start kicking.
Slim scratched and I kicked. Felt good and made Old Slim laugh. Then he told me to sit. I sat and tried to shake hands. Shaking hands is one of the many tricks I've learned over the years, and I can usually count on it to delight an audience of people.
But Slim didn't notice. He reached under the hood, pulled out the dipstick, and wiped it off on my ear. "Good dog." And that was it. I waited around for some more scratching or handshaking, but he seemed to forget that I was there. He slammed the hood and stepped on my paw. "Oops, sorry, Hank, get out of the way."
The sweet moments in this life are fleeting. You have to enjoy them to the fullest when they come, before some noodle steps on you and tells you to get out of the way.
Slim and Loper got into the pickup, and Loper said, "Don't you dogs try to follow us."
He gunned the motor and pulled away from the gas tank. Drover suddenly appeared out of nowhere and hopped up into the pickup.
"Come on, Hank, we're supposed to go."
In the back of my mind I knew that wasn't right, but I didn't have time to think about it. I chased the pickup until it slowed down for the big hill in front of the house, and jumped in the back.
"Where we going?" I asked.
Drover gave me that famous empty-headed look of his, the one where you can gaze into his eyes and see all of the way to the end of his tail, and there's nothing between. "Beats me, but I bet we're going somewhere."
Loper drove up to the mailbox and turned left. If he had turned right, it would have meant that we were going to the pasture. A left turn meant only one thing: we were going to town. And that meant only one thing: Loper was going to be mad as thunder when he found out we'd jumped in the back and hitched a ride.
But what the heck? You can't be safe and cautious all of the time. If you're too timid in this life, you'll miss out on all of the fun and adventure. You'll just stay home and snap at flies, and when you get to be an old dog, you'll look back on your life and think, "All these years I've been on this earth, I've never done anything but snap at flies."
And you'll regret that, when the opportunity came up, you didn't sneak a ride to town.
Drover curled up behind the cab and watched the scenery go by. I sat on my haunches, closed my eyes, and just let the wind flap my ears around. Felt good, restful. There for a little while I forgot all my cares and responsibilities.
That lasted until we got to the highway. Loper pulled onto the blacktop and started picking up speed. The wind began to sting and my ears flapped a little harder than I like them to flap, and the crumbs of alfalfa hay in the pickup bed started to swirl.
I laid down beside Drover. "Say, before I forget, I want to thank you for all the help you gave me last night with that monster."
He gave me a shy grin. "Oh, that's okay. It was the least I could do."
"It sure as heck was. If you'd done any leaster, you'd have been fighting for the other side."
The shy grin disappeared. "You mad about something?"
"Forget it." I didn't want to talk. Alfalfa leaves were getting into my mouth. I slept all the way to town.
Next thing I knew, we had slowed down and were coasting down Main Street. I sat up and took in the sights: a bunch of stores and street lights, several stop signs, couple of town dogs loafing around, and a big tumbleweed rolling down the middle of the street.
Loper drove into a parking place in front of the Waterhole Cafe, beside two or three other pickups that looked like cowboy rigs. When he got out and saw us back there, he have us the tongue-lashing I had expected. It was no worse than usual, not bad enough to make me regret that we'd hitched a ride to town.
He told us to sit, be good, and don't bark.
Then he and Slim went into the Waterhole.
For five or ten minutes we concentrated on being good, which was a real drag. Then I heard Drover go, "Ps-s-s-st!" He jerked his head toward the pickup that was parked next to us. In the back end, fast asleep, was a big ugly boxer dog. We both moved to the side of the pickup bed and stared at him.
He must have felt our eyes because after a bit his head came up, and he glowered at us with a wicked expression on his face.
"What are you staring at?"
"Just looking at the sights," I said. "What's your name?"
"Puddin' Tane, ask me again and I'll tell you the same."
I guess Drover didn't understand what that meant, so he asked, "What's your name?"
"John Brown, ask me again and I'll knock you down."
Drover gave me a puzzled look, and I said, "How come they've got you chained up?" He was tied to the headache racks of the pickup with a piece of chain.
"So I won't kill any dogs."
"You kill dogs, no fooling?" Drover asked.
"Just for drill. I prefer bigger stuff."
That sort of ended the conversation. Puddin' Tane went back to sleep and I got involved with a couple of noisy flies that were bothering my ears. Took and few snaps at 'em but didn't get anything.
Next thing I knew, Drover said, "What would you do if we peed on your tires?"
The boxer's head came up real slow, and he turned them wicked eyes on little Drover. "What did you say?"
"I said, what would you do if we peed on your tires?"
"Uh, Drover..." It made me a little uneasy, the way he was talking about we.
The boxer sat up. "I'd tear off your legs and wring your neck."
"But how could you do that when you're chained up?"
The boxer lifted one side of his mouth and unveiled a set of long white teeth. "I'd bust the chain."
"It looks pretty stout to me."
"It ain't stout enough."
"Just curious," said Drover. Big-and-Ugly went back to sleep and I got back to them flies. One of them was big and green, also a little slow on the draw. I waited for my shot and snapped. Got the little booger! Then I had to spit him out real quick. Boy, did he taste foul.
Seemed to me I heard water running somewhere. I glanced around and saw Big-and-Ugly's head come up. He'd heard it too.
Drover had just wiped out the left rear tire and was going toward the front one. Seemed to me this was poor judgment on Drover's part.
The boxer sprang to his feet. "Get away from that tire, runt! No two-bit cowdog is going to mess up my tires!"
I didn't like his tone of voice. I got up and wandered to the side of the pickup. "Say there, partner, maybe I didn't hear you right. You weren't suggesting that there's any two-bit cowdogs around here, were you?"
"I ain't suggesting, Buddy, I'm saying. You're a couple of two-bit cowdogs."
"Do you mean that as an insult or a compliment?"
"Cowdog, don't mean but one thing to me: sorry and two-bit."
I took a deep breath. "Oh dear. Drover, the dust seems kind of bad all of a sudden. Why don't you wet down that other tire."
He grinned, hiked up his leg, and let 'er rip.
The boxer went nuts when he saw that. All at once his fangs were flashing in the sunlight. He lunged against that chain and started barking - big, deep roar of a bark, so loud you could feel it bouncing off your face.
I waited for him to shut up. "You want to take back what you said about cowdogs?" He lunged against the chain and slashed the air about six inches from the end of my nose. "Guess not."
I hopped down, skipped around to the right side of the boxer's pickup, and wiped out the front and back tires. Drover and I met at the front, swapped sides, and gave each tire a second coat.
Big-and-Ugly went berserk. He fought against the chain and roared. "Let me at 'em, I'll kill 'em, just let me at 'em!"
Drover and I finished the job and hopped back into the pickup bed. When the cafe door burst open, we were, ahem, fast asleep. Slim, Loper, and the boxer's master stormed out.
"What's going on out here? You dogs..."
"It's my dog, Loper, he's making all the racket. Bruno shut up! You're disturbing the whole town."
I sat up and opened my eyes. Bruno was getting a good scolding from his master. He whined and wagged his stump tail and tried to explain what had happened. But his master didn't understand. (This seems to be a common trait in masters.)
"Now you lie down and be quiet. I don't want to hear another peep out of you. You know better than that."
The men went back inside. I waited a minute and then gave Drover the coast-is-clear sign. We got up and went over to the edge of the pickup. Bruno was lying flat, with his eyes wide open and a couple of fangs showing beneath his lips. He was trembling with rage.
"Drover, you ever seen an uglier dog than that one?"
He giggled. "No, never did."
"Me neither. Can you imagine what his mother much have looked like?"
A growl came from deep in Bruno's throat.
"I don't like his pointed ears," said Drover.
"You know why they're pointed, don't you? When boxers are born, they have such big floppy ears that a surgeon has to cut off two yards of hide. And then they whack off the tail, and then they put the pup's face into a shop vice and mash it until it looks just like Bruno's."
"Yup. And as you might expect, it affects the brain too, mashes it down to the size of a dog biscuit." The growl in Bruno's throat was growing louder. "That's why boxers are so dumb, brain's been smallered. It's the mark of the breed. They tell me that you can't get papers on a boxer unless he's too dumb to walk across the street. They give 'em a test, see, and all the ones that flunk become registered boxers."
By this time the growl had become a steady roar.
"And that's why you never see boxers work cattle, just too frazzling dumb to hold down a steady job."
Bruno's eyes were cloudy, as if they were filled with smoke from a fire burning inside. His teeth were snapping together. Maybe he was crushing imaginary bones.
"Why would anybody want a dog that was so big and dumb and ugly?" Drover asked.
"I've wondered about that myself," said I, "and the only answer I can come up with is that maybe if a guy had a piece of log chain that he didn't know what to do with, he'd buy a boxer to hang it on."
That did it. Bruno erupted again and lunged at us, his mouth wide open and full of jagged teeth. I got a real good look at his tonsils, which appeared to be a little inflamed.
I jerked my head at Drover and we was both sending up a line of Z's when the cowboys came out again.
"Bruno, what in the world! Bad dog, bad dog! Why can't you just lie still and shut up like these other dogs?" Bruno whimpered. "Well, I guess I'd better go. Bruno's on a snort. See y'all later."
When the pickup drove off, me and Drover sat up and grinned and waved good-bye to our new friend. Bruno was so mad his eyes were crossed and foam dripped off his chops.
That's what makes being a cowdog worthwhile. Teamwork.