Life on a little homestead farm has lots of ups and downs. We have lost chickens to exposure, ducks to cocci, and had some scares with the goats (bloat) this last year.
In the meantime, running in the background, has been our best investment for our family: our Livestock Guardian Dogs.
Huck is bonded to his chickens and stays on the farm/yard/ has freedom to run the property. He stays home and we don’t have to worry about him galavanting about. He loves his animals and his people, is a giant teddy bear with our human babies, and never lets any of his guardians out of his sight (our 4 children included).
Yona is our female, she is Huck’s to train and raise as his working partner. We had her tethered for a long time, letting her accompany us for chores, until she was trustworthy (LGD breeds are slow to mature, slow to let go of their puppy-hood, but due to their size can injure a goat, chicken, sheep, easily if they are too playful).
Relaxing Our Trust
Sometime in late summer/early fall we decided it was time to let Yona do more than just chores with us; we let her stay in full time with the goats and dexters.
This girl has never been happier!
I think as LGD owners, we can be too hesitant to let go and allow them to do their work in fear of losing goats, kids, chickens … but when they come from working stock and good blood (not show blood), they KNOW instinctively what to do, and with the correct exposure can be ready sooner rather than later. Oh how I wish I had given her the freedom and trust sooner! She is right where she needs to be, in that pasture with the goats and dexters.
She and our largest Dexter have the strangest relationship … he grooms her, licking, nuzzling, and rubbing on her. She leans into him and lets him do whatever it is he is doing?! Maybe it is a dominant behavior on his part? Maybe it is a loving behavior? I can’t tell.
In November, Yona went into heat (you can read about the benefits of waiting to spay/neuter until they’re older via google)- we thought we made sure Huck couldn’t get to her. But that giant boy jumped through hoops, literally, to get to her. Again, we confined him and he broke out & got to her in the middle of the night. (hindsight- we should have separated her into the cattle trailer where he couldn’t get to her, instead of trying to confine him).
We are now *almost* certain she is due with puppies! It is very exciting and nerve wracking. We will see the vet to hopefully confirm if she is expecting, and then we will begin preparations for ear;y February pups! I am excited to see Yona and Huck work together to raise pups to become great LGDs one day- homes will be selected based on many factors, but specifically for personality matching, fencing, etc. I know the hardships of trying to keep an LGD home without proper fencing (thankfully we are almost done with our entire pond-pasture fencing!), they’re loud barkers, and chew everything!
I see how many of these LGD breed dogs are in shelters because they either went to homes without proper fencing, or city homes where they aren’t really meant to be, thus causing problems with chewing, barking, escaping, etc. They require huge amounts of time and dedication, do not do well with changes, and are NOT quiet. They’re smart, independent thinkers, work best in pairs, and are truly amazing workers.
I look forward to the possible puppies and new lives here on the farm. Please pray we have a safe, healthy first experience!
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