By snowballs, I don’t mean the ice-cold, make you want to go in and sit by the fire kind. I’m talking about the white, fluffy, warm, and adorably cuddly kind. I mean, really, who in their right mind could resist these?
Remember several months and a few short posts ago, I told you about our livestock guardian dog, Iris’s, litter of 8 puppies? Well, just 9 weeks later, this post is about those same pups. They grew faster than IL weeds on fertile compost! I think any profits were completely eaten by way of the puppy chow we could not keep in stock! HOLY SMOKES those pups could eat!!
They have been a fun litter, though. From the time they were born, they have grown consistently with no runts or roly-polies. Their temperaments were very consistent, and exactly what we had hoped to get out of this breeding. Only a few stood out for different reasons–like the slightly lazier little male, or the bolder female who always seemed to be the one to find a breech in the fence or find a way into places she didn’t belong (like the horse water trough!). Iris turned out to be a wonderful mother, and did everything she was supposed to, even gradually returning to her own guardian duties by the time the pups were 6 weeks old. During the pups’ time here, they have been socialized, handled, played with by our children, introduced to basic manners, walking on a leash, respecting fence boundaries, and more.
Their last three weeks were spent being introduced to the fine art of guarding livestock. They were put in our turkey pasture, where they not only got direct exposure to poultry, but learned to ignore them, guard them, share with them, and so forth. Athena and Iris provided the teaching instruction and would quickly put the pups back in their place when necessary.
Six of the eight pups were reserved prior to weaning. We held back two for several reasons–a male and a female. Most of the others have gone on to their new homes now. They are spread from close to Iowa, to Illinois and Missouri, and all the way south to Alabama! One pup is staying on for a bit of extra training before it goes home. Now that the others are almost all gone, we have just put the little male up for sale. We are retaining the little female “Charity” for a while and may offer her for sale as a well-started LGD later on down the road.
Sometimes it’s hard to imagine that I tried to avoid getting into guardian dogs for so long. These animals have proven their value time and again. Here in IL, NO ONE in their right mind free-ranges poultry, and coyotes steal newborn calves on a regular basis. Predators are rampant. Donkeys are more popular to guard the cattle herds, but slowly, people are hearing more about the priceless partnership that can be formed with a good LGD. They are amazing animals, and I look forward to many future years with them!