Updated: Jun 13, 2021
We welcomed Chief & Scout to our homestead in January 2020. They are Great Pyrenees which are classified as livestock guardian dogs (or "LGD"). I wonder what kind of dogs the grandparents had to protect their cattle, chickens, & hogs. Maybe grandpa sat with his shotgun out in the pasture waiting for a coyote to try to snatch its dinner.
Scott's folks have had several Pyres over the years and they were just great dogs. We bought our first Pyre about 8 years ago, but Rufus never truly became our livestock guardian. Rufus was our pet. Rufus liked to escape and, like all LGDs, roam; we just couldn't keep him contained. There were many times when he'd slip by us & we'd could track him at the neighboring ballpark visiting everyone. Rufus enjoyed the company of humans more than the livestock that he was to protect here at home.
A few years after Rufus died, and as our goat herd and farm ground continued to expand, we decided we needed another LGD. I'd find puppies for sale every now & again but we'd talk ourselves out of it. We knew that things would have to be different this time around to avoid the frustration of another wandering Rufus. We finally got fires lit under our butts to make improvements to one of the barns to accommodate not one, but two dogs. We also had to make improvements & changes to the fencing I discussed in last week's blog.
We found our dogs from a lovely lady in Missouri. The dog parents were LGDs on her farm and the pups had been well introduced to farm life. Both Kaycee and I were certain we would have names picked out by the time we got them home. Nothing really stuck. We kept going back to the name "Rufus" but it just didn't fit. About 2 weeks later, Kaycee called the one Scout. Okay, that works. The other poor dog, was a dog with no name for 2 more weeks until the name Chief finally just stuck.
What is most bizarre about their names though, is how aptly their personalities grew into their names. Scout will be the first to hear or smell something amiss and runs out to the pasture looking for predators. Chief stays behind to ensure his herd tribe is kept safe. It isn't until Scout barks an alarm, that Chief will go to his aid. Their favorite place to keep watch is upon the heaping manure pile as that seems to give them the best vantage point over the pasture. Even though we put them in the barn at night, as soon as they hear the howling coyotes from beyond the pasture or from deep in the woods, Chief & Scout bark incessantly for hours until they feel their warnings have kept the threat away from the barnyard. We did have an unfortunate incident last Fall when a chicken either got into the dog stall or got pulled into their stall. Not sure if Chief was playing too hard or if we interrupted his dinner. That went down as a bad
day on the homestead.
As well as protecting the livestock, Chief and Scout protect me and Kaycee from the goat herd, the cattle, & horse. If I am brushing or working on one of our many critters, the dogs are always up in our business to make sure they treat me right. I have to be careful though when I scold the dogs for being too close. They are very sensitive and will ignore me for a couple of days, even after giving them a ton of kisses to get back on their good graces. If Kaycee makes any noise to get my attention when she finds herself in a predicament like getting stuck in the mud or a snow bank, trips over a frozen mud pie, or becomes an interest in the bull's line of sight, the dogs come running to her rescue.
This week, when the temperatures finally rose above freezing, we were finally able to let the goat babies out of the barn. I became more impressed with Chief & Scout that day. The dogs had a hard time understanding it was okay for the babies to be out and about. Chief for a time would stand guard at the barn door not letting the babies outside. Scout would pace between the babies' mommas and the barn door as if telling them they couldn't go out into the great beyond. It'll be interesting to see how they react to piglets this Spring.
After a lot of anxious looks to me, and my assuring words to them, the dogs finally succumbed to their worries and let the babies into the barnyard. But not letting them wander too far off. When the bull, steer, & horse came to check out the new kids on the block, they too became sweetly protective as well. If they came too close to the babies though, Chief & Scout would immediately come between them to keep a protective barrier around the babies. Chief & Scout spent the better part of the day sniffing goat butts to claim them as their's.
Although we have no experience with any other breed of livestock guardian dogs, Chief & Scout have been the best dogs for us and our livestock. Nary a day goes by when they have shown us another reason why they have been one of our best decisions on our homestead. They make me so happy & we love them immensely.
'Til next time folks!