Archive for April 16th, 2009

The Dog Search

Sharon April 16th, 2009

When I wrote my first dog piece, Rufus, our American Working Farmcollie, had just died.  We knew we would want another dog - indeed, we didn’t want to leave Mistress Quickly, our other AWF alone long, but we also didn’t know what we wanted.  We’d talked in the past about a dog who would be bonded to Eli, and the children wanted a small playmate dog, perhaps a corgi, but we hadn’t really thought it through.  I really appreciate all the advice we got from people here – it helped us sort out our desires.

After a little more time, we’ve clarified our desires and needs – we may eventually get a dog that will be specific to Eli, perhaps a washout from guide dog training (thanks to those who suggested this), and while I like Corgis too, I’m pretty sure “because the boys like Tasha Tudor books” is probably not the best reason to choose a dog.  Our family consensus is that what we want and need is a Livestock Guardian dog, who will be a farm guardian.  We’ve seen the coyotes crossing the high pasture already this spring, and a close neighbor got to see more of the black bear that lives in our woods than she really liked – while Mistress Quickly is a great house and herding dog, she’s not the most dominant or intrepid creature – Rufus was the one who ran the predators off fearlessly, while she provided barking moral support from the rear. 

That said, we want an LGD to be a homestead dog – bound to our family as well as the livestock, protective of both kids and goat kids.  And now I’d love some help – I’m sure some of my readers have working LGDs that are general family and homestead guardians – if you can tell us more about your experience with that we’d be grateful.  We’ve gotten a lot of advice about what breeds are best – we’re leaning towards Great Pyrenees or Anatolians, but willing to consider other options, or not-quite-LGD but multipurpose dogs like Newfoundlands.  We’re also looking either for the right adoptive dog, or the right breeder – we’re in touch with local shelters and breed rescue groups, but I thought there was a good chance that someone out here would have experiences that were useful, or suggestions, or might even know of an appropriate dog needing a home.

 Unless we knew that the adult had been a family/homestead dog (ie, both exposed to livestock and also accustomed to family life and children) and we knew the status of its hips, we’d prefer a puppy (even though I really like adult dogs much better ;-) ), but again, would consider the right older dog.  I’m a little lost in this process, since both of our dogs were bred by people we knew and had relationships with.

I’d be very grateful for the wisdom, advice, help or connections anyone wanted to offer.  While we’ve obviously had dogs before, this is new territory for us, and all the research in the world sometimes isn’t as good as good advice.  Finding a new family member is quite a project!

Thanks so much,

 Sharon