My Bodyguard - Home on the Range Blog at - 198203

Home on the Range

My Bodyguard 
Oct. 2, 2010 5:17 pm 
Updated: Oct. 10, 2010 8:48 am
AR relevancy-livestock guardian dog-sheep-lamb-dinner

The Maremma pups are almost 7 months old now. They have been doing a pretty good job of protecting the sheep, goats and the orphan calf that have been placed in their care. I have not seen a single coyote or bobcat in our pasture this summer. That’s a first. There was only one night I was awakened by coyotes howling close-by. I ran out to check the stock. The pups had gotten out and were not there. The coyotes suddenly got quiet and minutes later the pups squeezed thru the back fence and came to greet me. I can only assume they ran them off, but there had been no sound of a skirmish. Of course, if I was a coyote, I would run from these two in a heartbeat.

There are different schools of thought about managing these dogs. Some feel there should be minimal contact between owner and LGD (Livestock Guardian Dog) so the dogs will bond with, and protect their stock. I fall into the camp that believes that behavior is already instinctive for them, and handling and socializing these dogs is safer for the dogs, the owners, and anyone else on the premises. It would be devastating to me, if my 100+ lb dog was out of control and had to suffer because I did not socialize and condition both of them enough to be able to get them to a vet, should emergency care be required. I also believe, a dog is a dog, and dogs need human interaction and approval, as it is their nature, regardless of how independent they are.

That said, I have spent a great deal of time with the Maremmas. Cider, my golden retriever and I, have gone out and taken naps in the grass with them on lazy days. We’ve shared crackers (there is a food reference!) and there’s been lots of scratching, walking the perimeter fences (which hold goats, but not dogs) and some manners lessons. We’ve developed a pretty good relationship, and they generally get very happy when I show up.

Cletus, the larger of the two, almost 100 lb at 6 months of age is also the class clown. His feet are still abnormally large for his body, and he looks a LOT like a polar bear. His size makes him intimidating, but he is somewhat clumsy. I was rubbing his belly one day, when he wagged his body in appreciation and fell off the porch.

Bruno, smaller and more refined is the more serious of the two. He does, however have a case of kleptomania. His collection of jawbones, pelts, leg bones and stuffed animals continues to grow. I noticed a calf bottle in his pile the other day, as well as a shoe. He is very dependable, however about staying close to the animals. They have shown themselves to be very impressive dogs.
Cletus has apparently decided that I am also his responsibility. Although we thought we had one corral dog-tight, I discovered that they are only there by choice.

There is currently a bull in the big back pasture with my milk cows. This would not be a problem, except I have to bring Dolly-cow in each day to supplement her, as she lost far too much weight nursing calves. Usually, she will hang around the gate where Randy or I can sneak her in, but on this particular day, she was on the far side of the pasture, and I had to go after her.

With a case of nerves, as I did not know where the bull was, I steeled myself and headed out to get her. I had only gotten a hundred yards or so, when Cletus showed up and placed himself at my side. He stuck with me like glue all the way to Dolly, and back to the corral. Once the gate was shut, he gamboled off to spend time with Bruno and the stock again. I was glad he had accompanied me even though the bull didn’t show up. I was fairly confident he would have done his best to deter him, should the bull have seen me and decided to charge.

This morning, I decided to ride my “colt”. He’s not that young of a horse, but he IS fairly green. I haven’t had a lot of trouble with him, but my condition makes it a little scary if a horse makes unanticipated, quick moves while I am mounted. I just don’t have the balance, strength or reflexes I used to have. I was somewhat uneasy, as I had not ridden this particular horse since last March, and 7 months is a LONG time to expect ANY horse to sit idle and still be quiet and submissive. It wasn’t all THAT long ago my mare screwed my head in the ground, resulting in a lifesaving emergency surgery, and a year to heal badly broken ribs. Nevertheless, I was determined, so I nervously stepped astride. That was when I saw Cletus, out of the corner of my eye. He managed to squeeze himself under a gate, like a credit card, and enter the corral I was riding in. He took up a position where he could see us, and remained there for the entire hour while I worked my horse, keeping a watchful eye.

When I finally dismounted, he quickly trotted over and examined me. Seemingly satisfied, he left the corral and went back to his day job.

There is not likely much he could have done, had I gotten into trouble, but it sure is comforting to know that someone is there to watch my back.
Polar bear double
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our mudders
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Oct. 2, 2010 5:27 pm
I would love to have one. they are beautiful dogs! I have a German Shepard and I love her so very much but she won't go near a coyote or do much about keeping them away! And we have been hit by coyotes and I think they are living on the property.
Oct. 2, 2010 6:02 pm
I ♥ Cletus!
Oct. 2, 2010 8:56 pm
Love the blog, beautiful dogs. Can relate to Bruno, the klepto. Years ago we had a dog that would go to the neighbors' houses and bring back treasures. Out in the country leftovers used to get put out for the dogs/cats in whatever dish it was in. Our dog came back with a tiny cast iron frying pan and a glass pickle dish. Who the heck puts a pickle dish outside?
Oct. 2, 2010 11:05 pm
hahaha! That is too funny!!I caught Cletus with a full unopened quart of cream in his mouth the other day. NO idea where it came from, but I am sure he was going to frame Bruno with the theft
Oct. 3, 2010 12:09 am
We could all use a little Cletus care along the way...pretty nice buddy guard, you got there.
Oct. 3, 2010 7:35 am
oh how cute are they? I've never heard of this breed before, did you find them from a breeder here? Welcome back Petey, it's been toooooo long.
Oct. 3, 2010 8:04 am
They are an Italian Breed of Livestock Guardian, similar to the Great Pyrenees, but from the other side of the mountains. A guy in Culver raises them. The sire is 120 lb.
Oct. 3, 2010 8:08 am
and thank you all...soooooo much. I appreciate your commments and its good to see all of you! :)
Oct. 4, 2010 8:17 am
Petey, thank you so much for posting your blog here. I was busy all weekend trying to winterize the yard that I never got to sit down with the computer at all. It was great to see you here this morning. Guard dogs, klepto dogs-gotta love them all. They have grown so much. I am glad you have an extra set of eyes watching over you. So great to see you back and please continue to write for us here:)
Oct. 4, 2010 8:37 am
Glad to have a chance to chat! What a great story and what gorgeous dogs. We had a rottie that wasn't exactly a klepto, but did not like her toys picked up and put in the toy basket. They'd be out scattered all over the house before you got them all picked up. I love, love love big dogs. Although two smaller dogs are easier in the city...on a very small lot. Give them a hug for me!
Oct. 4, 2010 8:40 am
You have an anniversary coming up, don't you!
Oct. 4, 2010 8:46 am
Beautiful critters you have there.
Oct. 4, 2010 9:05 am
Petey: Everyone should have a guardian angel. Bruno and Cletus sound like sweethearts...well, that is, as long as you're not a coyote...
Oct. 4, 2010 9:05 am
Wow...he DOES look like a polar bear peeking out between the boards like that! Thanks for posting here, petey! I've missed your blogs, because I can't access your other site from work during break time and I rarely have enough time on the computer at home to read them. It's good to know you've got such great protectors with you on that ranch :-)
Oct. 4, 2010 9:12 am
Cletus! I like that name! May I borrow it in the future?
Oct. 4, 2010 11:22 am
LOL! you guys are too much!Cletus should be honored to share his name.It's not copyrighted LOL knee has an anniversary...
Oct. 4, 2010 1:51 pm
So good to see you back here! I am not good about reading blogs posted elsewhere. Your puppies are magnificent and I love their names. Seems like they take good care of you and I am glad you subscribe to the socializing school of thought.
Oct. 9, 2010 6:39 am
Great blog Petey. I love reading your blogs. Thanks for sharing a piece of your life.
Oct. 9, 2010 6:42 am
That is great, your dogs sound like they are more than happy with their work and love you for giving them a great life. Thanks for sharing
Oct. 9, 2010 9:58 am
Love it! You are the leader of their pack. Glad someone keeps an eye on you.
Oct. 9, 2010 10:33 am
Petey - I am also glad you are back posting here. I, too, am not good reading blogs on other sites. I love big dogs. I have a dane, had two danes, had a dobby-dane and a dobby and my first dogs were two dobbies. Your dogs sound wonderful. And I am glad that ;you believe in socializing them, for your sake and peace of mind and for other people as well. Working dogs need a job to do and yours do their jobs very well.
Oct. 10, 2010 8:48 am
Oh Petey, what a wonderful pack of dogs you have! I believe too, that dogs need us as much as we need them. If they are trained to tend sheep, have the instinct for it, then no matter how much you interact with them, they will Still be able to Do what they need to do for the herd!
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Kids are raised, we are ranchhands on a 250,000 acre working cattle ranch 110 miles from the nearest small town, so we raise a lot of our own food, vegetables, fruits, milk,eggs and meat. Love riding and working cattle, but find myself spending a lot more time in the kitchen, and the garden.
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A layered Jello dessert...the middle layer never set, so it did the 'ooze-wiggle'...and...well..I liquified a couple of chickens on 2 different occasions, turning them into a black gel. Moral of that story is, don't start cooking then go clean barns!...and there was the time that my kids were helping me make Thanksgiving dinner and SOMEbody (who resembled my youngest son) forgot to put the sugar in the pie!!!
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