Shades of Ireland

Saturday, January 15, 2011

On Duty 24/7

About 2 weeks ago, our neighbors decided to sell their meat goat herd. They had a livestock guard dog named Rosie. I was delighted when Tom called and asked me if I wanted her.

I have had goats for over 25 years. I had "goat dogs" for about 16 of those years. My last pair were a big Great Pyrenese male named Yetti and a smaller mostly Pyr female named Snowball. Snowball came to us as a pup while we still lived in Georgia. She was with us for about 10 years. Yetti was a grown rambling renegade when he came to visit Snowball in hopes of getting a litter of pups. His owner let us borrow him and decided that she liked him better at our house than at hers...... so he settled down and stayed for about 6 years. Both of them died with in a few months of each other of old age.
Before these two, we had a rescue guard dog. Her name was Princess and her deep devotion for the goat herd and my small children was amazing to see. She trained Snowball. When we made the move, she was ancient and I did not think she would live through it. An elderly friend who lived alone with a very small goat herd let her live out her years protecting them.

When my beloved Yetti and Snowball died, I could not replace them. I just couldn't find the "right" dog. I am getting to the age where I just dread dealing with pups and most of the adult dogs that I saw already had really bad habits and were were a problem where they were. Roaming, chicken killing, cat chasers were the last thing I needed.

I had been watching Rosie for about a year. Her goat pasture was right on the highway. Even before we bought this place, as I drove by I would see the goat herd with this faithful dog hanging out with them. A time or two, I saw her on the road and I would send up a quick prayer that she would get back where she belonged and not get run over. It was obvious that she could leave anytime---- but she stayed with the goats.

When we went and picked her up ( in the stock trailer), my biggest fear was that she wouldn't stay with us. We are less than a mile as the crow flies from her old pasture. I kept her locked up over night with one of my old shirts in the trailer. I wanted her to "know" me. My goat herd is young enough that most of them do not remember having a dog that actually lived with them---especially not one this big. Rosie appears to be mostly Anatolian. When I opened the trailer, they were just sure that they were all going to die. Everybody settled down after a few days. One morning I looked up just in time to see Rosie about half way across my cow pasture and it looked like she was heading for home. I don't know how far she got but later in the day, she was back with my goat herd.
She is not used to all this people activity but she is learning. We cannot touch her and she will not come to us. When I go to check cows, she tags along. At milking time, she watches for me to leave her some in her bowl. She and the milk cow have come to an uneasy truce. Chanteclair, the big red rooster, has learned that he cannot eat out of her bowl.
Princess, Snowball and Yetti were all huge, affectionate, playful animals. Rosie is a silent, shadow of a guardian.
I knew that it was going to be alright when she "warned" Seth when he slipped across to the barn in the dark. As soon as she heard his voice, she was fine. When the goats are out eating at the bale, she lays nearby watching. I have heard her barking at night and it is a confident sound. I know that she is handling it. Yesterday, Seth saw her physically chasing off a coyote in the cow pasture. He said that it was quite a sight and out other dogs all stood on the deck and barked to encourage her.

It is a relief for me to know that she is there. We will have lambs and goat kids soon. The coyotes have had free run of this place and have been bold enough to come right up to the house and torment the pet dogs.
They have sat in the new fruit orchard in the driveway and serenaded us. We have pictures of them on the deer camera trotting across the pond dam in the back yard.

Things have changed around here---- Rosie is on duty!

No comments:

Post a Comment