Thursday, August 27, 2009

In The Dog House

Miss Ewenice - the only sheep out there who has a legitimate excuse for not liking dogs.

First let me own up to not having a "normal" flock of sheep. We have old sheep and young sheep, wild sheep and couch potatoes, pet sheep and bottle lambs, outgoing and confident sheep, sheep that worry about things, sheep that don't, sheep that take care of other sheep, sheep that only take care of themselves, sheep that are smarter than me and some that we suspect have just as much wool inside their head as on top.

This is a flock that even a mature, well schooled, ready-to-go guardian dog would have trouble moving into. We knew that. We tried to explain it to Hank. We tried to explain it to Graham Lamb and Keebler. We've tried to explain it to the rest of the sheep. Wouldn't it be nice if we could do that? Just sit everyone down and have a meeting. Bring coffee and donuts. Maybe a dog bone. Hash it all out.

The way I wrote the sentences above explains the problem. "Hank", "GL and Keebs", the "rest of the sheep". In a nutshell, Keebler and GL, being bottle raised, aren't fitting in well with the rest of the sheep. Keebs is shy and gets his feelings hurt. GL, on the other hand, is not, but got in trouble by "trying a little too hard" to be friends with everyone. The rest of the sheep had never met a dog they liked, so weren't too excited to meet Hank.

So Hank found that the only sheep that did like him were the two boys. He was looking for a new family and they fit the bill. In my novice eyes, that seemed okay. By protecting them he was, by default, protecting everyone and I thought eventually they'd all figure it out and la-la-la, life would be happy. However, lately I've caught Hank protecting "his" sheep from the rest of the sheep. This is a problem. We are working on it and have help and I'm hopeful this story will have a happy ending, but tell that to a bunch of unhappy sheep.

I usually approach the "Hank has us penned in the little lot" problem by lecturing everyone about getting along and shooshing them past him into the big field. I'd heard Hank barking last night and went out to check and caught him yelling at them about something. He stopped, everything settled down and seemed fine and I went to back to the house. They hadn't forgotten though and were not moving this morning. I finally locked him in the barn lot.

Click to biggify and see him peeking through the gate.

"Hey, where are all my sheep going?"

Hank, you've scared them all again and they don't want to live with you. And I know you are excited about getting breakfast, but now you're scaring Keebler by bouncing around too much. He's "sensitive" and needs a slightly different approach.

The sheep looking back at me is Henrietta. I've been going out in the evenings with a box of vanilla wafers and having cookie parties with everyone. It's amazing how well everyone (except the few really scared sheep) behaves when there are cookies involved.

The other night I didn't have any cookies with me, but went out anyway. I sat down on the ground near the main flock. Keebs, GL and Hank all came up and sat with me. The rest of the sheep eyed me suspiciously from a distance. Finally Henri walked over to me. I tried to scratch her back (her second favorite treat), but she wasn't interested. She stayed long enough to see there were no cookies, turned around, walked back to the rest of the sheep, told them there were no cookies and they all walked away.

It's a tough crowd.


Lindsay said...

I love hearing about Hank and his sheep!

Michelle said...

Oh dear, I had no idea an LGD would protect "his" sheep from "not his" sheep! I hope you get it all working like it should. BTW, that first photo of Ewenice is stunning! She looks every inch the wise and regal matriarch.

Tammy said...

Wow..I'm with Michelle, Who would have thought that he'd bond with sheep and protect them from other sheep! Huh... I sure hope you can figure it out. Maybe mix up the flock some and change the dynamics? Sheep sure have a strong flock dynamic that only they can figure out. I do feel for the three boys--one furry and the other two woolly, but see how this could be a huge problem. Good luck!

flowerweaver said...

Could it be that Hank senses Keebler and Graham Lamb are "special" to you (well, they are of course) and thus he's taken that on as his job?

What if you removed them for a while and made Hank guard just the "others" and then brought them all back together?

Christine said...

LOL, oh that's a riot. You and I are so much alike it's not even funny.

My girls actually "dance" when they see me coming out with their evening animal crackers.

thecrazysheeplady said...

Well, now it gets worse...and more confusing. Keebler showed up with an injury to his tail when I checked everyone at lunch. Nothing adds up - the blood looked fresh and Hank had been locked away from them for 5 hours at that point, Keebs didn't seem to care that I'd just put Hank back in with everyone, usually a rough housing bite shows up on the ears (remember LDB), there is nothing he could have caught himself on in the barn, I don't think a Jacob horn could do that... Vet is coming out this afternoon to see if he needs stitches and see if he can figure out what happened. I'm lost. And depressed.

Alice said...

Wow! who would think that the dynamics of sheep tending could get so complicated? You need a sheep whisperer, a dog whisperer, a pet therapist for the two baby boys, and a farm family counselor. Didn't these sheep come with an instruction manual? Hopefully some neosporin and some steristrips will do the trick on the tail.
In the meantime buy lots of vanilla wafers.

DayPhoto said...

Getting to know you, getting to hope you like me. Poor Hank..darn it, he thought he had it figure out! He really did!


Joanna@BooneDocksWilcox said...

durn, I'm listening but just don't know about sheep and guard dogs. I so want Hank to figure things out correctly.

thecrazysheeplady said...

We can all rest a little easier knowing the vet does not think the wound was Hank inflicted. He thinks Keebler somehow found a nail or loose wire and hooked his little bottom and pulled away. He didn't think there was any sign of a dog bite. WHEW!!!!

So, now if we could all go back to getting along. I have Keebs and GL in a separate paddock and stall and Hank locked in with the main flock. The Jacobs are taking some pot shots at him, but I have a feeling he probably deserves at least a few of them. Hopefully they'll work it out.

Anonymous said...

Man! My reaction was like Alice's: Who knew caring for sheep could be that complicated? I am glad you have help with this. I don't remember anything like this with the cows. But then a heard of holstiens at a tonn a peice is a force to be reconned with. I feel for Hank; he is just learning his job. I am glad Keebler just scratched himself. And I do hope the boys start fitting in. Never a dull moment, is there?

All the photos are excellent, but the portrait of Ewenice is amazing. I feel like I am with her.


common ground said...

You just do not know how much I love your stories and the sheep saga. Hank is such a great guy, and he has a tough job! I loved your photo of him behind the gate when I "biggified" it. Thanks for sharing your life with us.

gtyyup said...

Sounds like you need a sheep dog therapist...or do you need a therapist for the sheep? Either way it's a very humorous story...but in real life is not so funny. Hope it can all get straightened out.


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