Monday, July 20, 2009

To Serve And Protect

There are many options available to try to keep your livestock safe from predators. As the sleeping in the barn every night method is starting to get old (and isn't foolproof either), we've been desperately searching for our top choice, a good guardian dog.

Ideally, as the coyote(s) have come back within 50 yards of the barn at least twice now, we need a mature, ready to go to work dog (with big teeth!). We have not been able to find that. We feel pretty good with who we did find though.

Meet Hank (peeking out behind Buddy).

Hank is an eight month old Pyrenees/Maremma cross. He was born in a goat barn and has lived with those goats his whole life. He's not so sure about our sheep. Well, I should say he's not so sure of a few of our sheep. While he tries to be friendly, wagging his tail and kissing their noses, a few of our sheep have not returned the gesture. I think he appreciates his safety gate.

I have spent most of the day hanging out at the barn watching his every interaction. I'm impressed with his good humor towards sheep that try even my patience. I've also enjoyed watching our sheep interact with each other. I was not aware of what a jerk Peabody is and Crazy Esther might be old and feeble, but if she ain't happy, ain't nobody happy.

And I already knew how sweet Emily and her baby Caspar Belly (aka Spooky Tooth) are.

And dear old Miss Ewenice. Is there anyone who naps as beautifully? (I wish that gate bar wasn't framing the bottom :-/.) She was very depressed after she lost her baby girl. We all were. We still are.

But, as I watch Hank following (or trying to) his sheep out of the barn this evening, I feel a little hope for the future safety of our flock...and will appreciate his help.

That's Keebler and Graham Lamb in the doorway, by the way. I can't believe how big they are. Keebler can't believe I'm making him live with "sheep".


Alice said...

I hope Hank can adjust to the multiple personalities of your sheep family. He is a big beautiful dog who looks fairly confident that he is up to the challenge. It wil be interesting to see if Woolliam tests him.
Give Ewenice extra hugs. She tried her best. It was good to see her again.

Dianne MacDonald said...

This post makes me soooo happy! I really think Hank will be the "guardian" angel you need. I know how you feel about big dogs, but honestly, these sweet dogs are unlike any other dog you've ever experienced. Believe me, the hardest part is not making big porch dogs out of them! Yay for Hank! (ps-Graham knows that those big white dogs are his friend. There are two here that greeted him at his birth!)

flowerweaver said...

Hank's a very BIG pup! And a cute face. Let's hope he takes his job seriously!

GL's ears give him away in an instant. That Keebs! Miss Ewenice is so lovely, a jewel for sure!

Nancy K. said...

I am praying that Hank works out for you and your flock! What a beautiful, sweet looking dog. With such a big, important job for a youngster. He looks like the kind of dog that will give you the very best he possibly can. Does he have a buddy there?

Denise said...

congratulations on your new family member...I hope the sheep are not too hard on Hank and that the integration goes smoothly. He looks like a sweet feller.

~Molly~ said...

Oh I hope Hank can earn his keep!!

And I can't believe you are so "MEAN" to Keebler!!! Making that poor baby live with sheep!! As if!


Dana and Daisy said...

poor keebler! WHat a culture shock!
I sure hope everyone sleeps better with your new dog. Plus he's pretty!

Lindsay said...

What a wonderful looking dog - here's hoping Hank will guard your lovely sheep.

June said...

Are you planning to try to spin Hank's dog hair (from brushings, of course)? I've heard that Great Pyranese hair spins great! Good luck with the new puppy, he's beautiful!

Anonymous said...

That's a great cross, Maremma and Pyrenees. We had one of Hank's (distant) relatives for a long time, and she was aces. I'm feeling confident for you!
Nancy NeverSwept

Deb said... topic, but I notice HORNS in the photos. Doesn't having horned sheep scare you - just a little? Are the Jacobs taking to Hank any better than the polled sheep? 'Hope they don't try to use those things.

Hank....think Henry Fonda (also known as 'Hank') - usually played the strong, quiet, passionate type - May this Hank be so in doing his job to protect your flock.

thecrazysheeplady said...

The Jacobs are NOT taking to Hank at all at this point. It's still early on, so I'm hoping they'll give in. I've tried to explain it to them, but while they seem to understand the word "cookie", "he's here to save your life" doesn't seem to compute... ;-)

DayPhoto said...

What a beautiful Dog! I'm glad you found him and the sheep have him.

We used to have a Auckback (yes I know I didn't spell it right) and he was a delight. Just perfect for protection. And so sweet and gentle...a wonderful dog.

Coyotes! So now you know and so do we.. Ugly animals. They have thier place, I know. Just not on a farm...go, get. scat. Get out of here!!! Scram.


Jenny Glen said...

Hank will win the Jacobs over. You'll see.

Anonymous said...

My, oh, my. Hank is a big puppy. I hope Iris and Weasley are taking to him.

I read the novel titled Lorna Doone. I think Lorna Doone-Buggy fit that character perfectly; very sweet, bright, with a sense of humour. Good romantic novel; Very English.

I hope you can eventually find some forgiveness for the coyotes for eating your friend. They are a very intelligent canine, and mostly eat mice and snakes (and around here, bunnies, which the farmers like). They have a quick sense of humour. I don't believe they can help acting on their basic nature.

There is a story of the early days in Vernon, (B.C., Canada) when the locals had set up a drag hunt to go tally-ho off on their horses. They realized something was amiss when they were covering the same territory for the third time. One coyote had intercepted the scent of the dead rabbit they laid the scent with, so the dogs chased the coyote. When it started to get tired, another replaced it, and led the dogs and horses on this never-ending merry chase. The pack sat on a bluff and watched. I am convinced they were laughing.

I am sure Hank will do his job, and the other dogs will help him to the best of their abilities.


thecrazysheeplady said...

I honestly don't blame the coyotes. I'm sure they are feeding pups and are hungry. The fox cutting through the farm right now is horribly thin.

One of our neighbors wanted to go out and start blasting every coyote he could find, but I did my best to discourage that. They don't understand and are just being animals.

However, that being said, I feel it is my responsibility, as a citizen of the animal world out here, to take action to discourage any more of this behavior and am hoping a big dog with a big bark will do the trick. Ideally he'll train them to stay away and not have to eliminate them.

Joan said...

Congratulations! I love the name, it was my favorite childhood dog's nickname (his name was Henry.) I am sure Hank won't let you down, I am growing to appreciate our Pyr x Anatolian more and more the older she gets. She'll be 2 in September and is now really becoming what we want -- blossoming into "guard-dogdom" though has always had the instinct... just too much puppy mischief to go along. ;)

I absolutely adore Miss Ewenice... she makes it essential that I acquire a leiscter (sp?) of some sort... blue faced or border, they have a beautiful look!

Michelle at Boulderneigh said...

I wish you and your flock every safety, with the help of Hank!

Barbara's Spot on the Blog said...

I am so happy and relieved to here you have a guard dog. I remember the Bugs Bunny cartoon with the sheepdog watching. He always caught the coyote.
I'm sure the sheep will accept him very soon and he'll be part of their group.

Eleanor P said...

There is a self-help group at my place for bottle lambs that think they don't have to be "real" sheep--actually it's more of a support group--Keebler can join anytime! It has a pretty good success rate--turns out fairly well adjusted sheep (well, sort of).
The support group for bottle calves that grow up with lambs and think they are sheep has a less successful adjustment rate. Moo never accepted the fact that she was a cow, and Hope just thinks that she is whatever animal that she is hanging out at the time. Helen just thought she was a dog.

Peruby said...

I love the gate framing the bottom of Miss Ewenice's photo. I thought it added a very nice touch.

You have a beautiful family and farm. Best wishes for Hank's success at keeping all safe from Ohio.


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