I can’t recall if I mentioned it previously, but for several months now, we have been considering and looking into getting a second livestock guardian dog (LGD).  Athena, our current girl is 19 months old.  We absolutely adore her, and she has certainly earned her keep by protecting our goats and chickens from predators.  In fact, we haven’t lost a single animal since she began patrolling.  While neighbors have had bear and fox on a regular basis, I don’t think they even cross our property, based on the lack of footprints in the snow.  We are convinced she even prevented the theft and possible murder of our goats one night by trouble-making people.

Athena, our faithful LGD

Athena, our faithful LGD

In any case, she is still a pup and really needed a playmate to keep her from getting too rowdy with the goats.  She has a bark she occasionally starts, which seems to be a “lonely” bark.  I also kept wishing we had a second for when we move to Red Gate.  No one has lived at Red Gate Farm for a couple years now, so the wildlife have really moved in.  There are frequent sightings and sounds of bobcats, coyote, fox, raccoon, opossum, a resident eagle, hawks, owls, rats, you name it…In the last couple months, there have even been 2 sightings of cougar within 1/2 mile of the farm.  While one dog will usually deter a cougar, one dog can be killed if the cougar is determined, but two stand a much better chance of surviving the fight.  Then, 3 nights ago, a friend here in CO had her entire small herd of goats wiped out in one night be a single mountain lion (ie cougar).  They found the cougar hiding under a bush near the house the next morning–a massive beast at roughly 140 lbs., and her daughters had just been out doing chores.  That was the final convincing factor.  We decided we wanted another dog to team up with Athena.

After researching, it was clear that the ideal way to introduce an outsider, new LGD to a current LGD is to buy a young puppy.  The current LGD doesn’t perceive a threat that way, and in fact, adopts and trains the new puppy.  Unfortunately there were no puppies around.  I found one litter due before we moved, but the pups were $500 each, and that was a bit out of our budget at the moment.  I told S that my ideal would be another Athena, which convinced me to try getting in touch with her breeder.  I couldn’t seem to reach him, though.  I was almost out of options.  I prayed about it, and on a whim the other night, decided to post an ad on Craigslist in her breeder’s town, explaining that I was trying to find this particular goat farmer’s breeding dogs to see if we could get another pup out of them.  Almost immediately, I received a response to my ad.  A woman in his town was a good friend of his, had gotten a pup from his last litter (he only had 2), after which the farmer had split up his breeding pair and moved out of state.  Her female pup was now 12 months old, and had been raised in a very similiar manner as Athena.  Due to some changes in her life and goals, the woman had been looking for a new home, and offered to GIVE her to us if we promised to take care of her.  She liked the sound of her running free on our larger acreage back east.  For us, it sounded like a perfect fit, except for the age.

Iris, our new LGD pup

Iris, our new LGD pup

We drove down south this morning, a bit over an hour away, to take a look at her.  I liked her, and she passed my personality tests with flying colors.  We brought her home, having to stop once on the way to buy her a collar.  She is quite a bit smaller than Athena, a lot more wooly and fluffy (more like a Great Pyrenees), and I suspect, a bit overweight.  The goat pen she grew up in didn’t allow for much exercise.  I suspect the weight will drop off pretty quickly here, and I am hoping her coat is partly just puppy coat that hasn’t fully shed, and that her summer coat will be more like Athena’s.

Faith and Iris getting acquainted.

Faith and Iris getting acquainted.

I spent yesterday afternoon trying to introduce the two dogs.  Let’s just say that Athena is REALLY good at protecting “her” herd, and had no intention of letting this outsider join them.  Fortunately, the younger pup is quite submissive so far, so I’m hoping she will continue to be so, in which case, it could help Athena feel less threatened.  I was also very happy to see that Athena still considers me Alpha, and would quiet down when I told her “Enough.”  In any case, it’s going to take a little work on my part.  I kept a fence between them at all times yesterday.  Iris was pretty lost and insecure in her new pen next to Athena, so I put Faith and Joy in to keep her company.  That seemed to help bring a bit of spark back to her.  Latte, my more aggressive doe, is with Athena so they each have company.  By my last inspection last night, the goats seem to have taken right to Iris.  At feeding time, Iris gently, but firmly protected her food (which I like to see).  She seems to be great with the goats, so I am very happy about her temperament.  I also have to admit, now that Athena is relaxing, I have NEVER heard her so quiet!  She had quit barking at Iris by nightfall last night, and I haven’t heard her bark since, which I find very interesting!!  It may confirm that part of her barking has just been out of lonliness.

Today, they seem fine with each other on each side of the fence, even considering some playful tail-wagging at each other on occasion.  Today, I am going to take the next step and introduce them without a fence (on leashes).  We’ll see how it goes.

Athena keeping an eye on Iris as Iris got acquainted with the goats yesterday.

Athena keeping an eye on Iris as Iris got acquainted with the goats yesterday.

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