Today's Quote

“If people let government decide what foods they eat and what medicines they take, their bodies will soon be in as sorry a state as are the souls of those who live under tyranny.” Thomas Jefferson

Monday, November 1, 2010

Our first LGD

Well, we have gone and done it. We picked up our very first livestock guard dog last week. She was started with goats by an experienced breeder, sold to a man who had goats then decided to get rid of them and now she is here with us. It is obvious that this dog was started off well by her parents and her breeder. She is 6 months old, 70 lbs. (and growing fast), and extremely smart. She has been introduced to the goats and the chickens along with all of the other critters. She is really trying to learn, but she is still a puppy. The goats are terrified of her as they long ago taught the other dogs to stay out of their barn. Dakota comes right in and sits next to me while I milk. This makes the goat on the milk stand dance.....ever tried to milk a dancing goat!? It is interesting to say the least. When the goats head out to the big pasture in the mornings, Dakota faithfully goes along for awhile. She circles the goats in the pasture, placing them where she wants them while she checks things out then ......she is off to do other LGD puppy things like take a nap. She has been out and busy since 5 am you know. The chickens have been an interesting story with her. I don't think she had seen chickens. She was introduced to them on a leash because chickens are oh so very tempting to chase. We followed chickens around for several days on a leash and she was not let out alone with the chickens until we were comfortable that she no longer thought of them as "chaseable". She is still a puppy after all. Now, however she has taken on chicken guard duty a little far. Each evening she has decided that the coop must be checked out by her before the chickens are allowed to enter. There might be a boogy monster in there just waiting for her chickens! The chickens do not like this. There has never been a dog in their house before, much less one that goes in first, inspects all four walls, comes back out to sit right next to the door and watch the procession inside. I think she is counting chickens right along with me to make sure everyone makes it in, but I can't prove it. Needless to say, I have had some issues getting the chickens in at night and several of the birds have gone on strike. The chickens come when called, see Dakota and scatter to the 4 winds. 6 of them refuse to come and have decided that the goats are better nighttime companions. I am really not sure what to do about this and Dakota has not shared any wisdom on the subject. Instead she dutifully escorts me as I capture the revolutionaries after dark while they are sleeping and carry them to the chicken coop. This is getting old. The other six do eventually go in on their own with a quick burst of speed past the large white fuzzy thing with teeth. We only had one issue, so far with Dakota and the chickens. One little chicken was running scared one evening and seperated herself from the rest of the chickens. Dakota seeing the potential danger of this rushed to the little chicken's aid and swooped her up in her big wet slobbery mouth. I, of course, hollered at a bewildered LGD to leave it. She on the other hand kept running toward the other chickens (remember at this point they are still scattered trying to determine if they can run fast enough into the coop). Eventually after a few seconds of me growling at Dakota she drops the bird, very wet and very unharmed, sits down and looks at me as if I had lost my mind. I immediately push her to the ground stand over her and growl mine in as low a voice as I can muster and as growly as I can manage. She got the message and I picked up the very wet, traumatized hen and carried her to the coop. She is fine by the way and dried off again. We have not had anymore chicken carrying problems since. However, when a little chicken does go off in the evening scattering by itself, Dakota will look at me as if she is asking if I want her to go get it. As soon as I say "mine" in a deep voice she goes back to counting the others as they scurry past into the coop. I can't seem to keep her from checking out the coop first though. Maybe the chickens will get used to this, maybe she will eventually see that there is nothing in there and she can look from the door. I don't really know. I do know that this dog is doing her job even at a very young age. Even though she is still a puppy and still figuring out what all this is about she has a great start. I am not sure really who is training who at this point. She invariably has loads more experience, thanks to her parents, than I have. I can say this....she is going to be worth her weight in gold when she is grown and fully assuming her duties. So, I am sure as she grows and learns and I learn along with her we will have lots of interesting Dakota stories. Oh, Cujo our old guard dog (Rhodesian Ridgeback) is so very thankful to be able to nap in his favorite spot in the sun without having to listen for trouble. He is accepting retirement quite well although he does still do perimeter check in the mornings. He has earned his time in the sun as he has babysit many little things here on the farm and kept our family safe and sound. Until next time, Kat


teekaroo said...

A good guard dog is worth it's weight in gold. I didn't realize how lucky we were until we tried to replace ours. Third try, and I think we found another good one. Thank goodness, because the coyotes are getting thick.

Kelly said...

What kind of dog is she? Or did you say it's a boy? How telling that I can't remember this soon after reading!

I have milked a dancing goat-daily actually! She gives us a quart of rich creamy milk though, so I'm still working with her. I have to use a coffee mug and milk one handed, so that I can pull it quickly out of the way when she starts dancing again. I keep the bucket nearby to pour it into. If she doesn't calm down soon, she might be going to another home!

Kat said...

I really think she is going to be a good dog. She is learning fast (or teaching me fast, not sure which). Kelly, it is a girl and she is a Great Pyrenees. She is full blooded, but not registered. The man who bred her only sells his dogs (very cheaply) to working homes and doesn't bother with registration. She is going to the vet next week to be fixed, so registration is not an issue with us. I have no interest in breeding dogs. I am also doing the one handed milking at least until the goats settle down with Dakota. Blessings, Kat