We love dogs.  S and I both grew up with dogs, and we have had a pet dog since before our children were born.  Over the years, we have fostered dogs for animal rescue organizations, been puppy raisers for Guide Dogs for the Blind, trained Medical Alert Dogs for diabetics, and I have taught basic dog obedience classes.   Currently, 3 dogs call Red Gate Farm home:



Will is our primary greeter here at the farm.  He is convinced all visitors are here just to see him!  Will is a lab/golden retriever cross, and a gentle giant at close to 100 pounds.  He joined our family as a young pup, and has a long history as a service dog.  He retired from work in 2008, but has adapted well to life as a pet.  Like the rest of us, Will loves going to the farm where he can run through the fields, play with other dogs, roll in whatever stinky thing he can find, and chew sticks to his heart’s content!

Athena, our faithful LGD

Athena, our faithful LGD

While living in CO, we found ourselves in need of a livestock guardian to protect our goats and chickens from local predators.  After a tremendous amount of research, we acquired Athena, a Colorado Mountain Dog.  After some very limited training sessions and a few months of supervision, she became an incredible guardian that earned her keep in many ways.  On at least one occasion, she single-footedly prevented one (or more) of our goats from being stolen by some trouble-seeking young adults, alerted us to the problem, and we haven’t lost a critter since she moved in.

Iris, our new LGD pup


Over the next year and a half, we fell so in love with Athena and the absolutely amazing guardian dog instincts she possessed, that we went searching for a second Colorado Mountain Dog.  After several months, we found a full sister to Athena, but from a subsequent litter.  This pup, Iris, was already a year old, so she had some adjusting to do at our farm, but she quickly proved herself and became a diligent and trustworthy guardian of our herds and flocks.  We spayed Athena, but now that Iris has proven herself as an incredible livestock guardian dog, we are searching for a quality stud dog to introduce her to.

For the record, Colorado Mountain Dogs are a breed that is quickly increasing in popularity.  They exist throughout the country, however, there is a small group of breeders in Colorado that have been working for several years to establish an actual breed that meets very specific characteristics.  Essentially, the dog is a 3/4 Great Pyrenees and 1/4 Anatolian Shepherd.  The Pyrenees genetics give the dog a lovable, cuddly, friendly, and very social disposition, while the Anatolian genetics decreases the desire to wander too far from their charges.  The Anatolian thins out the hair coat a bit, making the dog more comfortable in warmer weather, the Pyrenees still allows enough of an undercoat that the dogs can thrive in the cold Colorado winters.  The Anatolian genetics also creates a dog that is leaner, finer boned, much faster, and more graceful.  The overall cross also decreases the chance the dog will develop issues commonly seen in large, purebred dogs, making them much healthier and hardier overall.  In general they are solid white, or predominantly white with badger-type markings.  As a breed, they are proving highly adaptable to their environment, whether it is indoors as a family pet, outdoors patrolling the small homestead, or even working as a team to patrol larger areas.  They are very social and friendly dogs, but are fiercely loyal.  They have an incredible ability to differentiate from individuals (people and animals alike) who belong and those who do not and are not welcome.  If they sense a true threat to their family or livestock, they will always provide plenty of vocal warning first, as they are not fighters by nature.  However, if the warning is not heeded, they will protect to the end from a true threat.   I have witnessed my dogs ferociously chase off a fox, and within moments turn around and gently lay down beside my toddler daughter, or cuddle up beside a newborn goat kid.  I have been so mesmerized on multiple occasions when I see them actively at work.  When a threat is perceived, the two dogs will immediately jump to attention, fan out to patrol either side of the paddock, and not stop investigating until the area is declared safe.  It is the picture of silent synchronization, as if they have discussed and rehearsed it hundreds of times.  Sometimes, they may be vocal if the threat is declared nearby, while other times, they will quickly and gracefully make their rounds in perfect silence, investigating every nook and cranny in the pasture.  Most of the time, they swap off duties, with one dog always staying with the livestock, while the other patrols the woods and perimeters.  They are truly amazing dogs, and have certainly earned a permanent place on our farm.  We hope to find a worthy stud for Iris, so we can introduce others to this amazing breed of working dog–the perfect livestock guardian for the smaller homestead!


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