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Published: Saturday, 2/15/2003

TV cowboy lassos his roaming buffalo

Randy Johnson tries to get a rope on 5-month-old Josie, his rodeo trainee who hopped from a trailer and took off. Randy Johnson tries to get a rope on 5-month-old Josie, his rodeo trainee who hopped from a trailer and took off.
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OTTAWA LAKE, Mich. - Monroe County is where Josie the buffalo decided to roam.

The buffalo, startled by a barking dog, jumped from her trailer yesterday and took off running. And for three hours the Appliance Center cowboy followed in a careful chase.

Randy Johnson knew to trail his 5-month-old buffalo at a distance. If he got too close, she likely would pick up speed and be even more difficult to catch.

Mr. Johnson understands animals. He did not just play the lost cowboy in last year's commercials for Appliance Center in Maumee; he is a genuine ranch hand from Oklahoma.

Starting about 1:30 p.m., Mr. Johnson patiently pursued Josie through Whiteford Township. She wandered more than a mile north of his property to the corner of Temperance and Sylvania-Petersburg roads.

“Josie is just a baby,” Mr. Johnson said. “She wanted to get out and get some fresh air.”

Drivers passing through the area called Monroe County officials about 3 p.m. and reported a strange animal. When Animal Control Officer Ron Stumpmier and a sheriff's deputy arrived, they were face-to-snout with the 350-pound buffalo.

The officers soon spotted Mr. Johnson trotting in on his horse, lasso in hand. He cornered Josie near the intersection and was able to toss a rope around her neck.

“It looked almost like a rodeo going on,” Mr. Stumpmier said.

Once Josie was caught, Mr. Johnson was able to gently lead her home on the lasso leash.

Josie was fine, but Mr. Johnson was fined. The officers cited him for having an animal running loose.

Officers also advised Mr. Johnson that it is illegal to keep exotic animals in Monroe County without a permit. He assured them he would soon move Josie to a barn in Adrian.

Mr. Johnson has been training Josie for a rodeo act. He participates in the 3-Bar-B Rodeo Co. show held every weekend in Adrian.

The urban cowboy said he was confident throughout yesterday's chase that he would be able to retrieve his buffalo unharmed.

“We never got real excited about chasing her,” he said.



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