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Monday, March 12 2018


Except for the rustle of a bird here and there, the forest was quiet. I waited. And I waited. Then I did what everyone waiting alone in the woods does - I checked to see how many bars I had. One bar! Woo hoo! I hadn't found the Anatolians, but I had found the next best thing. A cell phone sweet spot. So I checked Facebook. Checked my email. Checked Twitter. Checked Facebook again. The forest was still quiet. Nothing. The Anatolians had already been gone for 30 hours. Even on a good day my mind jumps to catastrophic expectations. I had already mentally explored every possible way for them to get killed in a five mile radius. It's an astonishing large number. I played out the ramifications. Two buddies lost. Two and a half years wasted. One aging dog left to cover all the responsibilities. If I lost that dog none of my sheep or chickens would be able to safely leave the barnyard.

I checked again. Still one bar. I started scrolling ads for Pyrenees puppies in Texas. I did a search for Pyrenees/Komondor, like Briar. Nothing. Try Great Pyrenees. Jackpot. Any large generic white dog is tagged a Great Pyrenees. After I sorted those out I then sorted by purebred and crossbred. If I know the breeder I don't mind getting an LGD crossbred. Briar is an LGD mix. (Weeks earlier I had checked with Briar's breeder. She didn't have anything available yet. I assured her I was in no rush. One dead calf and two missing Anatolians later and I was in a rush.) So since I didn't know the breeders, the only assurance I had that the pup was an LGD breed, was for me to get a purebred Great Pyrenees. That sorted out a lot more ads. Then I had to sort by puppies from working parents that had been socialized to livestock. That knocked down the field considerably. I finally had a handful of advertisements for Great Pyrenees puppies that were clearly from a working background. The final search. Badger faces?

Briar has a little superhero mask. I've always liked that. I'm sure that if my first LGD had been solid white I would probably prefer all white, but as it was, the cherry on the sundae of my search was a badger face. A pure white pup was not a deal breaker. Obviously color means nothing, but if you're sorting, you may as well admit you like that super hero mask. A search on badger faced female Great Pyrenees pups across Texas produced two ads. I sat in the forest and debated. Did I really want to deal with getting another dog? Another freaking dog. Even I groaned. Then visions of the dead calf drifted into my head. I sent out two emails.

Here's the reality. The cold hard reality that most pet people don't understand is that these dogs are not pets. They're not. Yes, they're family members and we can make loving pets out of them, but if I just needed a pet, I'd go to an animal rescue and I'd only have three freaking dogs. That's it. No more. But I don't. I have a ranch. I have a ranch where cattle, sheep, goats and chickens spread out over a pretty broad wooded area. I must have the Border Collies to control the livestock and guardian dogs to patrol for predators. So why don't we just shoot all the coyotes? Son wanted to know that. He's a hunter and cannot understand why we don't just call, bait, trap, and shoot every coyote we find. I can argue with him until I'm blue in the face about the research which shows that it doesn't work but let's take another approach. Are you going to kill every predator that walks and flies?

After you shoot every coyote, cougar and bobcat, are you then going to kill every raccoon, oppossum and skunk? And then every vulture? I have a friend who loses newborn calves every year to vultures. Are you going to kill every vulture that circles above? When does it stop?

If my livestock were locked in a small area I'd be able to just have one Livestock Guardian Dog surrounded by hotwire. Briar grew up that way and it was very effective. But my livestock now have access to several hundred heavily wooded acres. I cannot put hotwire on the top and bottom of all that, and I will not sit out there with a rifle and kill every predator that moves. So Saturday I was reduced to sitting in the forest in an RTV waiting for my husband to clear an area on foot because it was too wild for a wheeled vehicle. I dropped him off at one point with plans to pick him up at another. He was looking for two missing Anatolians and a missing bull. (No, don't ask. They were not together.)

He met me at the creek, without dogs or bull. I told him about the ads. He grunted. He wanted an older, already working Pyrenees, but that won't fit into our household. We'd have to start with a puppy. That's another thing pet people don't understand. Why do you have so many dogs? Why don't you just re-home the old ones and the disabled ones? You could just keep the dogs that are currently working.

Seriously? That's like working for a company for 20 years and having them fire you with no retirement package. Except for two dogs that I re-homed WITH MY MOTHER because of bitch fights in the household, and one pyschotic police dog who actively hunted my sheep, we don't re-home retired dogs. They've earned that retirement. All our dogs get a nice retirement package where they get a comfortable life. Chores are modified so they still get to participate and feel like contributing members of the team. The half-blind, deaf double merle dog had extenuating circumstances and we took her on knowing that she would only be a pet. She and the Labrador are the only dogs here that could be considered pets-only. Everyone else either works, did work, or is training to work.

So let's circle to the other argument. Why don't you just trash both roaming Anatolians and get something that stays home? No. Just. No. First off, all LGD breeds roam. Some breeds may have a tendency to stay closer to the flock than others, but don't fool yourself. They all roam. People don't call them "Disa-Pyrs" for nothing. That said, I do admit I made the mistake of getting siblings. I should have gotten one brother, and then later gotten another. Separately the Anatolian brothers are great. They pair with the old Pyrenees cross and stay close to the flock. But when the brothers get together they cancel each other out. I no longer have three dogs, I only have one dog. The other two are frat boys on spring break. After the calf was killed and I actively needed them to be able to run and chase coyotes away from a broader area, they were able to handle only one day of being together. The second day they were gone for six hours, so I clipped their wings and separated them again. The next morning Jury went to great trouble to climb out of his prison and convince his brother to go walkabout. They were gone a day and a half.

No more chances. The little bastards will be separated and stay in their day shift/night shift routine which appears to work. The Anatolians left shortly before 8 am on Friday morning. We spent all day Saturday searching for them. It's physically impossible to hunt that area on a vehicle. It's even difficult on horseback because of the meandering creek. We have a drone to cover a lot of it. After covering as much on foot and ATV as possible, we drove around to surrounding ranches and talked to every neighbor, stranger, and oilfield worker we could find. One of the dogs was sighted almost 5 miles away. At 3:30 pm we went back home for lunch. At 4 pm Judge trotted up as if he hadn't been gone. By 5 pm Jury returned. They were both home safely but the their walkabout had shined a light on the chink in the armor. It was more than a chink. It was a big gaping hole. The boys just aren't ready to handle the job by themselves yet. If we lose Briar to accident or old age, we are shit out of luck. At 5:15 pm I checked my email. One 9 week old badger faced female Pyrenees pup was still available. Raised with goats and chickens. She sent me pictures.

I emailed back. Sold.  I arranged to pick her up in East Texas on Sunday afternoon. Meet Bramble. Or as my friend, Gina, has dubbed her: Briar 2.0

Briar now has a mini-me!

Posted by: forensicfarmgirl AT 07:26 pm   |  Permalink   |  3 Comments  |  Email
She's adorable! I bet she'll be a great Briar 2.0. (Just don't hate her if/when the mask fades, right? Lots of badger faces end up white... my Hero did. But he's still a Hero! Tangled with a coyote the other night, even!)
Posted by Res on 03/12/2018 - 08:46 PM
No worries! Faded mask or not, she's family now.
Posted by forensicfarmgirl on 03/16/2018 - 01:16 PM
She'll win you over to white dogs yet. ;) You have a great farm. When I die I wanna come back as one of your dogs.
Posted by Res on 03/16/2018 - 02:57 PM

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