Hall Bruce has been farming land in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Madison County, North Carolina for as long as he can remember. That's because he was born here, on the farm, in 1939. Like his daddy, and granddaddy, who came here in 1876, Hall has always used dogs on the farm. Besides being a friend, a good farm dog helps keep the cows in order. When one of Hall’s 70 or so cows go looking for the grass “greener on the other side”, the dogs help run them back in the fence. I’ve been lucky enough to witness this in action. It’s an impressive show of athleticism and instinct.
Blue, a 4-year-old Blue Heeler, helps Hall with more than just the cows. Blue helps him walk. About 10 years after his wife passed, a sudden stroke took most mobility from half of Hall’s body. Once back from the hospital Hall had to learn to walk again. Hall struggled to move his leg as he got on with the daily tasks of living and running a 400-acre working cattle farm.
The first time I saw this I couldn’t believe it. Blue nudges Hall’s foot along with each step, giving him more balance and forward motion. I met Hall a couple years ago after buying an adjoining farm. We've since become good friends and I’ve seen Blue lending a push countless times. Although Hall can get around on his own, Blue helps out here and there, especially on the daily trip from the house to the tractor.
Blue wears a ‘B’ monogram tag because he’s a Badass.
Time has passed since the stroke and Hall has gained some strength, but Blue is still right by his side lending a push whenever needed. Helping the cows and his owner is all in a day’s work for ole Blue. “As far as dogs go, me and Blue is best friends” says Mr. Hall Bruce.
Hall Bruce, Jack Carrier and ‘El Torro’.
Jack Carrier is the founder of Dog Tag Art. When not working remotely, Jack helps Hall with the cattle, sometimes pretending to be a cowboy using his horse ‘Carolina Mardi Gras’ a.k.a. Mardi.
Hall and Blue Video Transcript:
“Well, I’ve had 3 Blue Heelers and 1 Red Heeler. This dog was different from the other dogs I had.
The old man was Milt Bruce and he come in this country a year or two before 1878 and he bought little bunches of land for 2 or 3 years before he bought bigger strips. I guess he didn’t have any money when he first come. Well, now, I wasn't’ the first man to use dogs on the farm. My Daddy had English Shepherd dogs, but they didn’t have much guts. If a cow kicked one of them, it run off to the side and had to get it’s bearings back. And this kind of dog, a Blue Healer, they have a lot more guts. And if they get kicked, they just don’t run off, they’re ready to go right back.
Me and Blue lives here by ourselves. About 3 years after I had my heart fixed till I had the stroke. Somehow or another the dog learned that I couldn’t pick my foot up like I ought to. And the dog it learned to push my foot. Just right behind every step I’d take, he’d push the right leg. Well, as far as dogs is, me and Blue are best friends. Good dog.”