December 5-14, 2024


Renewing my Faith 

Jul 28, 2023

Renewing my Faith 

By Susan Kanode 

            After more than 30 years of working with rodeo committees, writing press releases and feature stories, I’m starting to wonder when I might retire or what my “golden years” might look like. 

            I have a hard time saying no when I know the outcome is for the betterment of our sport, the Western lifestyle and the people that work so hard to put on events. I’m often asked what my favorite rodeo is, and I rely on Leon Coffee’s comment, “That’s like asking which of your children is your favorite.” 

            Cheyenne Frontier Days has been a favorite of mine for a long time and if you’ve read my blog about Sustainable Rodeo, you will have more understanding of that. I’m writing this from the media center at Cheyenne and I’ve had a big reminder this week of why I am here. 

Paden Bray (left) and Brenton Hall won the gold medal and $10,000 Monday, July 24 at the Utah Days of ’47 Rodeo in Salt Lake just hours after Paden was involved in an accident with their pickup and trailer. | Photo by Ric Andersen

            I tell my interns at the College National Finals Rodeo and other young people that God has us where He wants us all the time. My mom will tell me, “If you listen,” and that is also true. I’m human. I don’t go to church every Sunday. I read my bible when it is convenient, or I get a gentle or not so gentle reminder. I am a believer that questions my faith. I don’t often question God, but my own relationship with him. 

            On the first day of the rodeo, I was blessed to meet an incredible young woman, Gracey Taylor, who is working for Community Coffee. I’ll be the first to admit that I depend on coffee more consistently than I depend on God so we became friends quickly. 

            Monday, midway through the third performance of the rodeo, I came back to the office to start working on results and press releases. Gracey was outside crying. When she came in the building I told her if she wanted to talk I would listen and if she didn’t that was fine too.

            Gracey gathered herself and with tears streaming down her face told me about her dog Saydee Mae, a tan and black long-haired dachshund. While Gracey was working here, she couldn’t keep Saydee with her, so her boyfriend who was with Paden Bray and his crew took her on the road with them. 

            They were coming from Salinas to the Utah Days of ’47 Rodeo in Salt Lake City and then over to Cheyenne. They were involved in an accident and, while the guys were going back to the trailer to check on horses and care for them, Saydee Mae escaped. They were about an hour east of Wendover, Nevada. 

            Thankfully, none of the two-legged passengers were injured. However, one of Paden’s horses didn’t make it and the status of the other three is still pending. So, while Gracey was worried about her dog, she was also heartbroken for Paden’s loss and grateful that none of the people were injured. My heart breaks for the Bray family. Paden put it all out of his mind when they got to Salt Lake City and won the $10,000 and the gold medal at the rodeo. 

            I am a dog lover and have had one of my own for most of my life. Putting myself in her position, I could easily understand the fear and devastation she was feeling. I asked her to give me her two hands and we prayed for God’s protection over Saydee Mae and peace and comfort for Gracey knowing that He was in charge. Gracey’s mom had made a Facebook post. I shared it and called Bille Pierson who had been here with me over the weekend. 

            Bille is a long-time family friend who lives at Gooding, Idaho. She was at the airport in Portland when I talked to her. I asked who she knew that lived in the area of the accident. She shared my post and tagged Laurie Bahe who is related to her by marriage. The Bahes live at Grantsville, Utah, somewhere close to where everything happened. 

            If that Bahe name is familiar, it should be. They have two daughters that made history as the first sisters to qualify for the National Finals Breakaway Roping in 2020. Cassie became the first woman to win the title at the Fort Worth Stock Show & Rodeo. Anna finished fourth and they won more than $33,000 there. The girls aren’t roping as much now, but they will always be part of the rodeo family. 

Anna and Cassie Bahe made history at the first National Finals Breakaway Roping qualifying as sisters. | WPRA Photo

            Gracey spent a lot of time on the phone. Her mom was watching Facebook from their home in Texas and was searching on the web. They got a tracker and a scent dog to go to the scene of the accident to find Saydee Mae’s path. 

            The dog had run down the side of the road about a half mile from the accident. Traffic was backed up and apparently she got in a car because that is where the scent dog lost her trail. We were hopeful and convinced she was alive. 

            Laurie made posters and hung them up in the area. Phone calls were coming in with sightings. At this point, we were also concerned that she had been stolen. That night I prayed for God to continue protecting Saydee Mae and that no matter where she was, she would find her way back to Gracey. I also prayed that if someone had stolen her that they would do the right thing. Then Laurie got a phone call that she had been spotted at rest stop.

            It was the Bahes to the rescue. Knowing that the dog would probably be scared and hadn’t had much to eat or drink for three days, they put a game plan together. At 1:30 Thursday morning, Gracey got a call that Saydee Mae had been captured. 

            “Helping others can actually bring more joy in life than for person receiving the help,” Laurie said. “In this case I know it was extremely joyful for both of us.”

            As soon as Thursday’s rodeo was over, Gracey left to drive to Utah to get her girl. This story could have ended so many other ways and we are aware of all of them. A veterinarian friend of mine commented that dogs should be in sturdy kennels to protect them from something like this. 

Gracey and Saydee smiling together for a selfie. | Photo by Saydee

            My dog, Rufus, and former dogs have traveled with me a lot and I’ve never put them in a kennel. I might be reconsidering those decisions after this. 

            Bareback rider Kade Sonnier who is on the Community Coffee team said that looking for a small dog on I-80 in the high desert would be like looking for a needle in a haystack. Through the network of the rodeo family, that needle has been found. 

            And, I’m finding my faith renewed. I know and have always known that there is power in our prayers and when we speak those words aloud and in a group that power increases exponentially. 

            We all have our struggles and while I’ve been writing about the mental game of rodeo, I’ve learned something about dealing with my own. It’s incredible how many people played a part in this story about a much-loved dog. For me, it was confirmation that I am doing what I am supposed to be doing and I am where God wants me to be. 

            I question my faith more often than I should. No matter what, I believe in a higher power and for me that is God whose son Jesus Christ died on the cross so that I could have life everlasting. And I believe that animals are going to be a part of that everlasting life too. 

             I also think that dogs are great examples of God’s love. They love us unconditionally and it’s rare to find one that holds a grudge. Their loyalty is unsurpassed and the reuniting of Saydee Mae and Gracey is a perfect example of that. 

            One of my favorite bible verses is Proverbs 16:9. “In their hearts humans plan their course, but the Lord establishes their steps. (NIV)” I pray for Him to direct my steps daily. He has done that this week, renewed my faith, and reminded me of the power of prayer. 

Gracey, Sadee and Susan in the Media Center at the Cheyenne Frontier Days. | Photo by Susan