New Dogs on the Block… er.. Farm…

Meet Bosco, a five month old (yes, I did say “month”! )Great Pyrenees-and-possibly-something-else mix.

I had been wanting to get a farm guardian dog for security reasons for some time after we moved. It would guard the chickens in their various locations, and warn us and the cattle if predators or intruders were in the vincinity. While we are in the country, our farm is actually right in the tiny downtown area of Sunman, so we really aren’t in a terribly remote and inaccessible (meaning, unnoticeable) place.

I spent far too much time on the internet reading about working dog breeds (and coming to the conclusion that there was no possibility of affording one, let alone two, as is usually recommended, from a good breeder). There were weeks that I agonized over all the working dogs available in the nearby shelters, trying to ascertain if they would be a good fit. I filled out applications three or four times, but to no avail, since many pet rescue operations do not give dogs to people who will be keeping them in a barn. We even visited a breeder an hour away to see if one of their older females who had not bred in a while would work for us. Finally, I gave up. I was tired of getting my hopes up about a dog and then realizing it wouldn’t work for one reason or another, or searching breeds everyday and finding puppies available but only several hours drive away or priced at a premium. So I gave it over to Mother Mary one day as we were praying the Rosary. I told her: “No matter how much I think we need a dog, I don’t want a dog if God doesn’t want us to have one. I know only His Will will make us happy and only He will make things work out right. So I’m not going to look for a dog anymore. Besides, I don’t think we’re supposed to get one, since it hasn’t happened yet.”

It was a big let go moment for me, even though it seems trivial to simply write it. But I think that was all Our Lady was looking for – she wanted to drive home the point that everything comes from God, and not from our own effort. That very afternoon, Nathan was looking on Craigslist for something completely unrelated, and he happened to notice a Great Pyrenees puppy had been listed just hours before! Great Pyrenees had been one of the breeds that stood out to me as being gentle, great with children and seemingly intuitively taking care of their flock, while having a very strong protective urge when danger is present. When we looked at the location, it was in Cincinnati – closer than we had yet seen, but still a good drive. But when I called and asked about him, they gave me an address that was only 20 minutes away from us! That settled it. Not only was it a puppy, who could grow up on the farm with our kids, but it was also a very reasonable price. Turns out, he was owned by a Christian family who have their own homestead with goats, chickens and lambs, so he was already used to being around livestock. Another one of God’s providential miracles!

And so Bosco came to Sundance Farm. He really is an amazing dog. Loves the children, loves to play, and has an incredibly deep bark. He seems to have a bit of a hunter in him too, as he seems to enjoy pouncing on crickets and grasshoppers and eating them for snacks! He is also still very much a puppy, despite his large, 40 – 50 lb size- we have caught him running away with rubber boots left out on the porch, chewing on everyone’s toys but his own, and eating the inedible.

I was satisfied with that, but we kept hearing from multiple experienced sources that really you ought to have at least two guardian dogs in order for them to work effectively. “Coyotes will send out one of their pack to distract the guard dog while the rest attack the flock,” we heard numerous times. Now, we do have electric fences around the livestock which would hopefully serve as a strong deterrent for predators. And I was absolutely sure we wouldn’t ever find another Great Pyrenees puppy that we could afford, so we decided that we would just have to do our best with one dog.

Enter Rosie, a (now) 12 week old Great Pyrenees puppy. One of two left from a homestead with goats, and very reasonably priced. Again, Nathan found her on Craigslist, not even looking for one. And think of all that time I wasted searching…! I must learn patience. He gives all in His time…. but boy is it hard to wait when I get my mind on something!

She is the sweetest little thing, but oh so shy when we first got her. It took two days for her to really get used to us and start playing with the kids, but now she can’t get enough of their attention. To my surprise, Bosco was actually quite shy around her at first. He didn’t go bounding up to her as I thought he would; but very gradually approached to meet her. You can see their meeting in the video below.

Now, Bosco and Rosie seem to be the best of friends, playing together, teasing each other (Bosco playfully steals Rosie’s stick in a “come and get it” attitude, and Rosie oftentimes parades around in front of him with the same object). The size difference is a little much at times, so I intervene in their play fights occasionally, but mostly it’s very sweet to watch. The only time Bosco has ever growled at Rosie was, predictably, at feeding time when she approached his bowl instead of her own. Gradually we have lengthened their time off their leads together (we are in the process of installing an electric fence to keep them on the property) and Bosco roams around looking like a great prince surveying his land with a rather floppy, roly poly, distracted protege at his side. Rosie never lets him get too far away, though, no matter what might be holding her interest!

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