We are getting a new puppy this week.
In the spring of 1997 we got our first Livestock Guardian Dog (LGD). A Great Pyrenees. Scanner. She changed my life. My birds were safe from local predators – all day long AND all night. You see, LGDs work 24/7. They like it. It’s what they do.
They protect the critters in their territory in whatever way is necessary. Now, before you go thinking that this is some sort of macho, kill the nasty coyotes deal, understand that LGDs are among the most natural canines there are. They are VERY intelligent, but they are also VERY independent. They have been selected and bred, for centuries (at least), to live with and protect the flocks and possessions of the human shepherds who depend on them. This means a number of things:
- these dogs must NOT hurt anything that the human shepherd needs or values
- these dogs must do their jobs, even when there are things happening that look like they might be more fun
- these dogs must be able to survive and thrive outdoors, year-round, usually in harsh mountain terrain
- these dogs must be able to distinguish between a real threat and other inhabitants that just happen to be passing through
- these dogs must be able to survive and thrive on what a human shepherd can feed them
- these dogs must be able to do their jobs even when the human shepherd is sleeping (or dead)
These are amazing dogs. Their philosophy is one of minimal force. They would much rather convince a predator to go away than to have to fight it. Usually, they are big enough to be very convincing.
However, if you are looking for a dog that will dote on you and adore you, this might not be the dog for you. Their loyalty is to the protection of their territory and what’s in it FIRST. They are not known for their obedience and are likely to walk away from you in the middle of whatever it is you are doing if they feel duty calls.
Our old Pyr (Scanner) died last August at the age of 11 1/2 and Arrow, her partner (now nearly 4) has been working alone ever since.
About a month ago (valentine’s day of all things!) one of our turkeys got attacked *in* the yard. That is the first time in 12 years any of my animals have been attacked. The coyote managed to maul but not kill a turkey (Shirley). The poor girl died 2 days later of what looked like internal injuries.
As near as I can figure it, there were at least 2 coyotes – one to keep Arrow busy and the other to sneak in and go after the birds. That morning when I went out to do chores I nearly ran into a coyote who came from the direction of the front gate to my duck yard. Just to give you an idea of how close that is, we have a detached garage next to our house, and the main gate to the duck yard is at the far corner of that. That’s about 20 meters from my front door. It’s also where we park our cars. The only access is from the vicinity of our driveway as the area where our house and the garage are is fenced on three sides. The coyotes have to trot up our driveway to get there. And it did. In broad daylight.
I discovered that there was at least one additional coyote because my Rottie (Digit) took off after the first coyote. Digit chased it into the horse pasture, but stopped when he realized there was another coyote waiting there. Digit is young (18 months) and that was a very appropriate and wise reaction (Good Dog, Digit!). He came back quite willingly when I called him. A young dog may be able to take on a single coyote, but a pack is a different story. The horse pasture shares a fence with the duck yard – meaning that other coyote may well have come from there.
As a result of this bold attack, I decided Arrow needed a partner to work with. I was hoping for an adult dog that could begin work within a few months. I was looking for a rescue (an older dog who needed a new home) but, as fate would have it, instead came across a litter of puppies (click on ‘Animals’ then ‘Sarplaninac’) up north (High Prairie). So we are getting something called a Sarplaninac – a livestock guardian (some claim it is one of the oldest breeds there is) originally from the Sar Mountains.
She arrives on Thursday.
Should be interesting.
Isn’t she cute?
Her name is “Mink Hollow Seya”. Seya means ‘travel’ in Turkish. Likely to become known as Seya Rubic (a.k.a. Gozer).
Photo (C) De Grazerie (Louise Liebenberg)