Dog Stories, Prose

And Poetry



Cowboy Ethics

by Donna P. Noland


Cowboy Ethics might not seem to have anything to do with dogs, fighting City Hall or standing up for our legislative rights as dog owners but bear with me.


I see a connection, especially to those of us who grew up with Roy and Dale, John Wayne, and other such cowboy heroes. I feel this is really relevant to what’s happening right now in politics, in the fight for animal welfare vs. animal rights, and who we are today.


We need to cowboy up on Animal Rights and flawed animal shelter statisticsJames P. Owen is the originator of “cowboy ethics” and “The Code of the West”. As Mr. Owen outlines it, this is the code that all cowboys followed then and today:

  1. Live each day with courage.

  2. Take pride in your work.

  3. Always finish what you start.

  4. Do what has to be done.

  5. Be tough, but fair.

  6. When you make a promise, keep it.

  7. Ride for the brand.

  8. Talk less and say more.

  9. Remember that some things aren’t for sale.

  10. Know where to draw the line.

Even though there are very few of us who are driving cattle to Kansas City anymore, putting up miles of fencing, laying brands, or breaking horses, all ten of these principles still apply to a life of honor and our love for dogs - if we pay attention. Some may think they are old-fashioned values or just plain hokey but following Cowboy Ethics could make a major impact on our little piece of the world. Why? Because they’re based on ethics and doing what’s right, not what’s expedient. They offer stability, not chaos, to a society and a sport urgently in need of help.


How does this apply to dog owners, breeders and fanciers? The Code is based on personal responsibility; something that pretty much all of us profess to believe in when it comes to the owning, breeding and treatment of dogs and other pets. Most of us expect people to do “what’s right and fair” when it comes to the dogs.


We also believe in freedom – freedom to have our dogs, to participate in dog-related activities without interference, to live our doggie lifestyle. The cowboy ethics principle that particularly applies here and now is “do what has to be done”. For the past several years, and for the immediate future, dog owners have been in a fight for their existence and way of life. Forces gather to take all this away from us, either all at once, or piece by piece over time. It’s time to do “what has to be done”. r>
I offer this quote from Mr. Owen’s book, Cowboy Ethics: What Wall Street Can Learn from the Code of the West:


“In Kevin Costner’s Open Range, the cowboy heroes are Boss Spearman, a tough old cattle drover who has endeavored to steer clear of bloodshed, and his hand Charley Waite, who has clearly done some killing in his time. While resting their herd, they run up against Baxter, a despotic rancher who rules the nearby town and hates “free grazers” like Boss and Charley. Baxter’s men rough up their friend, Mose, and the bullying rancher lets them know he means to kill them all and scatter their herd if they do not quit his domain.


"You reckon them cows are worth getting killed over?’ Charley asks Boss when he vows to protect the herd. ‘The cows is one thing,’ says Boss. ‘But one man telling another where he can go in this country is something else.’”


I think all dog lovers need to “Cowboy Up”. NOW


Terrier Wrangler -

Copyright 0912



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