Things have been boring around her lately, moving irrigation ,chores, weeding etc. Until last Thursday, when we went to Agassiz and picked up Rosa our new guardian dog for our flock. Rosa is an eight week old Maremma bitch who was born on the ranch with a flock of sheep and goats. Maremmas are guardian dogs meaning they live with the flock at all times and deter coyotes stray dogs and all pests four and two legged. We have had a number of Maremmas over the years and know of their skills and lamb saving abilities. We wish to expand the flock this fall and that would mean grazing the flock on the other side of the river alongside the mountain where coyotes abound and the neighbours there have long dumped dead stock in the bush, in doing so training the coyotes to eat farm livestock, Duh !! So by having Rosa now she will bond with the flock and be big enough to do the job required of her next spring.
We stopped off at the vets on the way home so Rosa could have her shots before going to the pasture. Then it was off to the field to say hi to her new charges. She didn't enjoy the four hour car journey and following that with shots at the vets was a real bummer so we were not sure what to expect when we dropped her in the flock. Well we needn't have worried, she took one look at the sheep and trotted over to them and promptly started licking their faces. She was so happy she could hardly stand as her tail was wagging so furiously. The sheep were some what cautious though the lambs seemed excited to have a new playmate.
It has been three days now and all is well as I have to look really hard to find Rosa as she is in the middle of the flock most of the time or patrolling the fence checking things out. These are good signs as it shows the flock has accepted her and she instinctively knows what her job is.Although she is cute and cuddly I limit my contact with her to two or three times a day as I need her to bond with the sheep not me. So long as she comes when called and knows that its me who feeds her we will get along fine. Later once she is proficient in her job only then can we "pet" her in small doses.
Some people think this is cruel, but if they could see how happy she is in the field with her flock doing what she is born to do, they would understand, so hopefully the attached photos will help. Note the last picture, how proud and happy she is with her flock and she had only been there five minutes !!