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working Working Dogs

Shelley Lowe animals dogs farm homestead

Allow me to formally introduce you to Laoch (pronounced LAYoc) 


He is our Anatolian Shepherd mix puppy (likely mixed with Great Pyrenees, so he's going to be a big boy!).  He came with the sheep we bought a few months back and his job is to guard them.  And don't let those sweet sad eyes fool you!  He is sweet but about as ornery as they come! And a total ham for the camera!  But to his credit, even though he was only 4 months old when we got him, his guarding instincts were already quite apparent. 

We often find him laying with the sheep, keeping an eye out.  He is definitely a working dog. 

Then there is this little guy.  He is also a working dog, but so far, he takes his work a lot less seriously...

Yes, he looks like he's working really hard.  This is Tachran (pronounced TOCran).  He is our Border Collie mix puppy. And he did not come with the sheep, as you might be thinking, being a sheepdog and all.  No, he quite literally and serendipitously (that's a word!...maybe) showed up on my brother-in-law's doorstep the week before we got the sheep.  He was scared, filthy, and exhausted so, of course, my bro-in-law took the little 8 week old pup in!  But he couldn't keep him and knew we were talking of getting dogs to guard the imminent sheep so....he showed this irresistible face to me and, well, Tachran (means orphan in Gaelic) had to be ours.    

Fortunately, they get along pretty well.  After the first few days of figuring out their new surrounding, they were playing and roughhousing like brothers. I did worry a bit for the little one when they played so rough,

but he totally holds his own 

(and he can totally be a bratty little brother!)

As I was looking for photos for this post, I realized just how big they have both gotten even since these pics were taken!  *sniff* they grow up so fast.  Here's a more recent pic (you can tell because the grass is BROWN).

*GASP* who is this scrappy young fellow and what has he done with my fluffy little puppy!!

And who are YOU, Mr big shot?  Where's my gentle-eyed giant?

Aw, but they are still pretty cute...and sweet...and, oh, I suppose they can stay.

And they are both shaping up to be very good working dogs.  

Tachran is displaying that great Border Collie intelligence by catching on quickly to rudimentary commands (he knows SIT pretty well with very little reinforcement!). Laoch is, well, less willing to take commands.  But he's made up for that with his guarding skills.  In fact. just last week he alerted us to a very real danger to our little flock.  We were out doing the morning chores and I heard him start barking like mad.  I looked up and saw a pack of dogs, and I mean like 6-8 dogs, coming out of our woods near the back of our property, but thankfully, on the outside of the pasture fence.  Laoch, bless him, had positioned himself between them and the sheep, teeth bared and hackles raised.  Then he stayed right by the sheep when my husband went after the strays...with his gun.  They retreated into the thick woods at the first shot, so we didn't hit any of them, but hopefully the experience might deter them from coming back.  And while Laoch seemed unfazed by the early morning gunfire, little Tachran, who had been following my husband toward the woods, high tailed it at top speed back to the dog house at the first shot.  I guess he won't be going on any hunting trips!

Now, you might be thinking that shooting at stray dogs is a little extreme, but stray domestic dogs are, in fact, one of the biggest threats to sheep.  This is because while a wild predator, like a coyote, might take one sheep in order to eat it, dogs will chase the whole herd and kill for the fun of it.  And sheep are not cheap!  So, though it would pain me have to do it, we cannot tolerate strays on the property, and certainly not packs of them.  

Packin' heat and prayin' for rain!


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  • Erin on

    OOOOH MY!! Tochran has grown so big since we were there last and that is not that long ago!

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