Well, I am thrilled to announce that we have a new addition to the farm, in the form of a livestock guardian dog. Wouldn’t you be terrified of this:
Meet “Athena.” Ok, ok, I guess she needs to grow into her protector role a bit before she plans to scare off any fox or coyotes around here. Based on the size of those paws, I’m sure she’ll grow fairly quickly!
As it turns out, Athena is a 10-week old lgd pup, 3/4 Great Pyrenees and 1/4 Anatolian Shepherd. While she is not registered, both of her parents are proven guardian dogs, and both come from working dog lines. The pups were the right price for us, and I was willing to accept risks of buying an average, backyard-bred, farm pup due to my many years of animal/vet tech experience, but also because we felt we should go the lgd route and there were none others to be found in this area. There were 6 pups to choose from, and S and I weren’t particular to male or female, so I decided to try to pick best dog for the job.
I must admit, lgd-bred pups are sooooo incredibly different than other pups I have worked with. Granted, they are still cute and cuddly. However, they are also so much more independent, aware of their surroundings, and calmer than similiarly-aged pups of other breeds. They were laid back, easy-going, like to investigate, but then went on about their business. I had the hardest time trying to choose which one to take, finally narrowing it down to two that just had personalities I liked a bit more. I was trying to decide between 1 particular male and this little girl. I handled them both all over, and gave an overall examination. The final determining factors was that the little male had a slight overbite and seemed, perhaps TOO independent, whereas her teeth lined up very nicely and her level of independence seemed to balance well with her desire to be sociable. So, I paid up and we headed home.
Of course, the adventure started right away! This calm, easy going pup was perfectly content to sit in the kids’s laps on the way home, but once she started vomiting, they decided she would be better off laying on a seat by herself (on a blanket to catch the vomit). Other than the unexpected car-sickness though, she made a great, calm, traveler.
Once we got home, we gave her a tour of our little farm and animals. Unfortunately, Lilac managed to head-butt her once, so she is a little nervous around the bigger goats for now. I set up a temporary pen in the goat shed for her, giving her about 1/3 of the shed, and the goats the other 2/3.
I set her up with a toy, straw bedding, and water, and we put her in there to rest. As we walked away, we heard her whine a bit as she realized she was alone for the first time in her life, growl as Lilac approached her fence, then she settled down for a nap. After an hour or two of sleep, she was refreshed and slightly more energetic and courageous when we went out to check on her a little later. I gave her a thorough brushing to get the grass seeds and such from her last farm out of her fur, and I must say, I think she rather liked the attention.
I will feed her dinner tonight, but otherwise, she will be in her little pen when I am not there to supervise, until she and the goats get used to each other. I plan to introduce a couple chickens in a few days, and let her get used to those as well. Then, the plan is to gradually get her out in the big pasture with the chickens and the does, alongside Will, who will hopefully discourage too much puppy behavior and maybe even teach her some desirable behaviors.
Seeing as how I know only what I have researched in regards to lgd’s, I have no doubt this will be a new adventure we travel and learn together. It has given me hope, though, that perhaps our chickens and goats may actually stand a chance at surviving this winter. Once again, time will tell how it all turns out.