Features & Stories
Korby & Jill



Story and photos by Trudy Frisk


Korby looked out happily over the fields from his perch on the wagon. The 2006 spring plowing contest seemed to be a success.  He’d done his part, Korby reflected.  He’d calmly greeted horses, contestants, and observers, then quietly gotten out of their way.


From his observation post Korby watched the steady, plodding competitors as they turned up the fresh soil.


Jill waiting for the plow
His good friend, Jill, a border collie from Salmon Arm, was out there encouraging her team of Percherons, supporting her teamster, Joyce Marchant, as Joyce held the heavy walking plow firm and true down the long furrows.


Mentally Korby reviewed the rules, “No barking, no chasing, biting, or jumping up on people. No pulling the horses’ tails.” “Check, check and check.” thought Korby.


Korby wasn’t always so aware of ranch regulations, but, then he didn’t start life as a country dog.  He was almost eleven months old and, through no fault of his own, a two-time SPCA shelter dog, when his city owners, who had to give him up, called in an ad to the Buy and Sell asking for a good home for him.  The ad never had a chance to run.  Tracey Haughton, who took the ad, thought Korby sounded like a good dog. She met the black Lab cross and liked him. After a tour of the Haughton ranch Korby’s owners begged Tracey and her husband, Bob, to take him.


Korby’s life changed dramatically. He was surrounded by large, strange, animals.  The big draft horses puzzled him. “Better warn people.” was his first reaction. He’d bark, then run and hide from the horses, peer out and bark again.  No one around him seemed worried so eventually he decided the horses were no threat.


After three years, Korby’s adapted well.  He considers horses everyday animals.  And, cows?  “Korby thinks he’s a cattle dog.”, says Tracey.  “But, he’s not.  He’s a Kenworth dog.”  No matter how often Korby insists he can so herd cattle, he’s banished to the truck with Bob.  Does he travel?  “He’s a good companion.  He goes everywhere that a dog can go.”


Today he watches patiently as the sun climbs higher and Jill, his collie buddy, paces alongside Joyce’s team through the afternoon.


They stopped at the edge of the field, only a few yards away.  “At last”, Korby  said to himself, “ They’re done. I’ll go see if Jill wants to play.” Out he bounded to where Jill lay beside the horses.  “Care to play?” he asked, bouncing eagerly. 


“Oh, I can’t right now. I’m working.”, was Jill’s immediate response.  “Joyce is only adjusting the plow. We have three more furrows to do before we’re through.  Sorry. Maybe later?”


Bob Haughton with Korby
Korby was mortified.  He’d interrupted the plowing contest and distracted a competitor.  He hadn’t meant to, but it was still unforgivable. Tail down, ears lowered in embarrassment, he was slinking toward the machine shed when Bob noticed him on the field. “Korby!” he called, reproachfully.  “I know, I know.”, Korby replied.  “I’m so humiliated.  I just don’t want to talk about it, okay?”  He stayed in a corner of the shed until the contest was really over and he and Jill could frolic about, away from the furrows.


Sometimes bad things happen to good dogs.  In the summer of 2006 someone left the feed shed door open.  Korby got in and ate some rodent bait.  Saving his life required a lot of medical intervention, including a blood transfusion from a Great Pyrenees. A Great Pyrenees?  “Well”, as Tracey remarks testily, “ you can’t get much blood from a Chihuahua!”  Korby’s muzzle turned permanently white, but he’s otherwise okay.


Jill had a rough year, too.  On Thanksgiving Sunday she got too close to the binder when Joyce was binding oats. The binder severed one of Jill’s front legs.  Bob Haughton immediately put on a tourniquet of binder twine. Joyce rushed Jill to the vet who tidied up the amputation.  Jill’s new nickname is “Tripod” Losing a leg hasn’t stopped her.  She’s as dedicated as ever.


Both she and Korby are real working dogs.  They wouldn’t change their lives for anything.


At the April 28, 2007 spring plowing contest, Korby once again will be host dog, and Jill, as usual will be helping Joyce and her team.

Other articles by Trudy Frisk

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