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Wednesday, November 13 2019

Temperatures this week dipped into real winter and dog lovers everywhere are being bombarded with reminders to bring their dogs inside. I can appreciate that. I really can. I like my dogs to be cozy and happy too, but I fear that too often all dogs are painted with the same brush and we can forget that not every dog's idea of cozy is a bed beside the fire.

I give you State's Exhibit A - the Livestock Guardian Dog.

These dogs were bred to be outside dogs who live with the flock and serve as protection against predators. They are hardwired for the job. It's in their DNA. While some dogs are happy lounging on the couch, these dogs are bred to be guardians in harsh weather. Read my lips - they don't want to be in the house on a cold night when the coyotes are yipping in the dark. They just don't. If you can't wrap your mind around that concept, don't get a Livestock Guardian Dog breed, get a Golden Retriever. 

Let me share this battle with you.

It's a fight, people. It's a fight. Every damned night since the weather turned cold, it's been a fight. 

Briar is an aging Livestock Guardian Dog. She has cataracts and her hips are bad. Sometimes her back legs lock up on her and getting up and down is hard. She NEEDS to stay in the house during cold weather. I have attempted to move her into my office at night where she has a nice, thick dog bed and she's far enough away from the heater that she doesn't get hot. It's still a fight. I have compromised by allowing her to stay locked in the chicken yard so that she can throw insults at coyotes but cannot plod off into the dark like a war horse and get herself killed.

The temperatures dipped into the teens the night before last. I didn't want Briar outside, so I locked her in my office. Each time I gave her a potty break she tried to slink away. Three times! Three separate times that old dog snuck off so she wouldn't have to come back inside the house. The first time I found her stationed in the driveway . The second time I found her by the chicken yard. The third time Briar actually made it into the pasture and was barking at coyotes that were hurling insults at her. The younger Pyrenees and I had to stomp out in the dark with a flashlight to retrieve a very sullen old dog and drag her back into the house. 

Last night the clouds parted and with clear skies I expected lower temperatures. I fed the dogs early and gave all the house dogs breaks. Briar saw the writing on the wall and snuck off again. I found her behind the sheep pen. With the promise of a cookie I lured her back into my office. She was soon politely scratching the door. At the next potty break she made a dash for it. I heard them too. On a clear, cold night they're easy to hear. Coyotes. 

So I gave up. I let her stay in the chicken yard in the cold. And she was happy. I worried that this morning it would be a Rimadyl Day but I was pleasantly surprised when I opened the gate to find her in the cheeriest of moods. The barnyard was blanketed with frost and so was Briar. But she was happy. We fed the sheep and took a walk in the pasture. As I sipped my coffee and watched Briar, I gave some thought to animal rights. 

Few people who know me would argue that I don't care for my dogs. In fact, I spend more money on my animals than on myself. That said, care is not always about premium dog food and a bed beside the fire. Sometimes care is letting them be the dogs they were bred to be without projecting our emotions onto them. 

And so I pass these photos on to you. After a long, cold night slinging insults at coyotes you can see that once again, Briar passed up the offer to come inside by the fire. Instead she wanted to go into the pasture, revel in the rising sun, read her pee mail, and roll in the frost. Briar doesn't want a dog bed in the house. She wants to be barking at coyotes on a cold, starry night. Briar wants to be a warrior. 

Posted by: forensicfarmgirl AT 01:34 pm   |  Permalink   |  6 Comments  |  Email
Saturday, November 09 2019

I am so thankful for morning walks. It is hunting season now and so the sheep have been pulled into the lower pasture and barnyard because the Anatolian Shepherds must remain locked up. This leaves an old Pyrenees cross and an adolescent Pyrenees pup to guard the flock. They get by, but without the Anatolians, the coyotes get bolder. They come to yip at the fence to test for Anatolians. The old dog must stay locked with the chickens and the young dog doesn’t leave her sheep to address cheeky coyotes. 

When the sun comes up we take a walk in the pasture to read our pee mail and run the Border Collies. I sip coffee as I am followed by nine dogs, five guineas, and one black cat. There is a lot to be learned on that walk. 

We can choose to crash through the day with the wild abandon of a Border Collie breaking through the mist to hit the pond. 

Or, like the old Livestock Guardian Dog, we can choose to thoughtfully map out our day by going through the details of yesterday and last night. 

Or, like the five guineas, we can choose to dart here and there, and ricochet through the day like a pin ball bouncing in whatever direction life sends us. 

The choice is ours. Choose wisely. 

Posted by: Forensicfarmgirl AT 12:34 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email

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