When we first came to Saskatchewan we got about 100 chickens - these were to be our layers and some for the freezer. One night a fox got in the hen house and killed about 80. The morning after we found dead chickens all across the field to the fox den. This was our 2nd loss to predators - we had already lost 2 guinea fowl and their babies to coyotes.
Someone told us we should call Crop Insurance because there was a program in Saskatchewan where you got paid for livestock lost to predators. They came out, checked around and advised us to get a livestock guardian dog (LGD).
We hated those foxes for killing our chickens but killing them wouldn’t solve our problem. Another fox family would just move in and take over the territory. Keeping free range chickens would be impossible if we didn’t have something to chase off the predators.
The first one we got, a pyrenees, we named Dummy. This is because at first she killed chickens, her job was to protect them not kill them. Luckily she quickly grew out of this phase.
Dummy turned into a great dog, not roaming too far, barking and chasing any predator she sees. Then we got some sheep. They came with their own guardian - a llama. Carl was not impressed with that thing - neither was Dummy and she chased it out of the yard - it ran south and was found 14 miles away. A guardian that runs away from our dog wouldn’t work for us so our search for a 2nd dog began.
I travelled an 8 hour round trip to pick up a 7 month old Sarplaninac - another breed of LGD. What a beautiful dog - we called him Jack. We got him home and one of our geese chased him, he ran a mile down the road. This dog had been born and raised with sheep with minimum human contact, how on earth were we going to get him back.
We left a trail of food on the road back to our farm and put the sheep in the field as close to the road as we could, hoping to give him something familiar in his strange surroundings. Luckily in the morning he was sat on the outside of the fence watching the sheep. He managed to get into the field with the flock and he stayed with them all the time. Then when we sold the sheep he moved into the yard and corals where in winter he would sleep with the pigs. He was never a fan of strangers and would always disappear if anyone came to the farm but would keep a watchful eye on what was happening.
Recently Jack got injured and unfortunately died due to his injuries. Losing a dog is a very sad and painful part of life. They are family and there is no replacement for them. That said we had to start the search for another LGD to help Dummy. She needs backup to do her job. The coyotes have been coming a lot closer to the farm than normal and it will only be a matter of time before we start having losses. We have ducks, chickens calves and piglets that all need protecting, that's a lot of work for Dummy by herself.
Luckily Teresa, the lady who bred Jack had a litter of pups born on April 1st . They were Sarplaninac x kangal/pyrenees. I picked up Buddy (his name may change) on Friday afternoon - he has the biggest feet I have ever seen on a pup, he is going to be a big dog.
Friday night we had a storm and I was worried that it would scare him - we already have a dog that tries to get in your skin when the thunder starts. I snuck out to check him throughout the night and he was quite content asleep by the fence.
He got in with the ducks on Saturday morning and thought chasing them from one end of their pen to the other was great fun! (He reminded me of my friend Christie who runs out into fields of geese to make them fly) I hope he isn’t going to be another Dummy - I am referring to the pyrenees not Christie lol.
He seems to like being with the piglets and doesn’t seen afraid of too much - apart from the electric fence. I hope he will be a good protector for us and our animals.
With that I want to say bon voyage to Jack - a wonderful dog and protector. He will always have a very special place our hearts and is very sadly missed.
Do you have a pet that is missed? Share your story in the comments.