Pyrs and Lambing
Robert Denlinger May 2, 2001
This year's lambing, Anja's *Bandit* watched intently but seemed to take cues from one of the other LGD's. Sometimes I have the feeling, especially in Bear's case, that they *might* be interested in protecting their own right to the *good eatin's* to follow. -- Just a feeling I get as I am cleaning newborns and keeping a close eye on the LGD's.
Others, like Abbey and Badger (GP's) don't seem to get all that interested. They watch and are more easily distracted by something else here that may be occurring at the same time. Regards the entry of a *new* Ewe --well, they all have that *need* to get right up and gather some identification credentials from the newcomer, in the form of taste and smell (yuk).
It seems to me that the younger *trainee's* here, will pursue at whatever speed --obviously this is counterproductive as the lamb or Ewe increases speed trying to escape. If I see it, I cup my hands and growl in the right direction. This has stopped Badger on several occasions. Although, now, he seems to have learned to be a little more subtle and avoid bothering the Ewe or Lamb.
Abbey, she's funny ...Abbey puts on the *I'm not really here ...you don't see me ..I'm passing by to over-there* cloaking device. Would be hard to describe the dance, but, generally, she intercepts them as she's looking elsewhere, then drags a furry nose by the Ewe - and keeps on going.
I just got this years *piggies*. Bear loves Piggies for some strange reason. He anxiously awaited as I opened the gate into the hog pen/shed - then walked over to them. I expected the squealing and such, but the only grunted their wee-little sounds. (7 weeks old at 35 pounds). They smelled him with interest. He made positive ID on them (smell, lick) then sat down in their midst with a big smile (I know what Bear's smile is).
Abbey wanted in to investigate. She sniffed. They rubbed past her. Abbey left. Callisto found her way in to join a growing LGD pack. She too sniffed. But I saw her look of interest. "Yup, just as I figured; that breed of Not-Sheep is back. I'd better stay on top of this ...", as she tried to dominate the scene. Bear, usually somewhat afraid or leery of Callisto, stood his ground. Callisto lost interest.
My goal was to let Bandit (5 month old Kuvasz male) see just how a large pack reacted to new things on the farm. He took it all in. Now, he's spent several evenings alone with them and faithfully barks/guards the shed area. Still, I have to be careful if past experience is a guide with any LGD under a couple of years --he may get into that *chase* mode. Then again ....
Bandit's been out with Tess and Badger with the remaining lambs for a month now (during the day when I can watch nearly constantly) It's been nifty to watch Bandit as he (over)reacts to *things* --this in respect to what Badger or Tess does or would do. He's been making fairly regular rounds through the four acres, even while Badger is sacked out in the heat under a very large tree. Yesterday I noted he broke off trying to grab an ID/Smell from a large lamb that was passing by. The flighty young lamb picked up the speed to get away from the *Nosey* Bandit. He made a few steps then turned into the barn and stopped to look around. I could go on about his actions lately, but I just caught myself straying from the original topic ...
When I got Badger, in the Fall, I started to notice he'd suck up to me, right close, when intimidated by either an aggressive Ewe or LGD. He'd point that really lovable Pyr face up to me "Gee Daddy, can you help?", he said. Yeah, I can help, and started being the Alpha to dissuade *noisy* behavior into or against my pack. If the problem was a jealous or grumbly LGD, I'd position myself between Badger and the miscreant. I’d utter a low and slow growl and snarl just a little. The others seemed to recognize the command. And I certainly saw that Badger understood, judging by his relaxed posture.
Now I see with Bandit, the same behavior. I equate it to what I know best, namely a foal running up to her dam and seeking safety. I don't understand dogs very well because I think like a horse and that's a prey animal not a predator animal. And I've never been comfortable with switching back and forth from one to the other -- and when I do, it always unsettles the horses. None the less, this tactic seems to work and it sure seems to build a nice bond with the young LGD.
I've watched Abbey do it several times -- that is, she will not tolerate unruly actions amongst the big white dogs. She'll run up -- I guess to see if they are playing. If they are not, she dives in and makes all of them wish they were somewhere else. Now, Callisto has done it too. Just last week she smashed Bear who was getting too rough with Badger. Bear is insanely jealous when I love on Badger. So he starts some pretty rough play with the kid and it gets out of hand sometimes. Bandit now, there's a potential big time leader. At five months old, he's not taking anything from any LGD here. He runs up to me, as a foal would, and brushes me or smells me, for some internal reassurance -- then he bounds off.
I can't quite explain it ... Badger is not meek by any means. Let's call him neutral. Bandit, OTOH, carries himself with a slightly different attitude towards other LGD's. Like maybe, he's got a wait-and-see attitude -- not bold really --maybe more confident ... heck I don't know. I like the way he assimilates new livestock though. Not seen it in the other Kuvasz here (not that I have that many).
Right now, due to a thunderstorm early this morning, I hurriedly herded the Hampshires (had to use another *H* word) into the large shed Bandit's in with his *New* piggies. (they love him and sleep by him). Well, he's not been with the entire flock since he's been here. The Piggies have never been up to a sheep. So they ran out and sniffed and squealed a whole lot. Then they started chewing on the lower wool. Some ewes darted --some didn't give a hoot. Bandit watched it all with mild interest. Abbey(GP), who was faithfully out in the thunderstorm, along with Tess (Kuvasz BTW) --Abbey ran with the flock and into piggy domain. While all this squealing was going on, she'd laid down flat in the middle and gone to sleep --taking advantage of the roof and also the confinement to lower her guard.
Tess, bless her heart, took the chance to bang on the back door and ask if Mary would let her come in the house. She's a rescue and was not raised around anything but house life. Now, in her defense, she's come into her own and is doing a nice job in tandem with Abbey. If I put her out in the larger fields, she'll stay there and make some rounds --at night --daytime's she'll stay there but watch around for me. She has a notable crush on me, I'm sure.
Abbey and Callisto just don't get along. Abbey will ultimately leave the field and take up an outer perimeter just to be away from Callie. The latter will never stay with the sheep, preferring to guard me or guard the horse barn and x-pens. Except at night ..if there is activity she detects, up to a mile away, she's right on it - then back to the barn area.
Tess seems to be right on it too, but it seems she lingers around out there *just in case* --I detect in her that she'd just love a good fight and thus, stays around looking for one. Abbey's learned about the fact I carry the grooming rakes most of the time. Good Lord ...if she even sees me grooming another LGD, she wiggles in and looks up with the sweetest face "Awe Gee Daddy, my coat needs combing". If I walk away, she's right there, banging that wiggly body right into me until I bend down and groom her.
Well, I use some of the same rakes on the horses ... can you see where this is going? Rosie loves to be groomed. Rosie will bush anyone out of the way --well, anything with enough brains to move out of the path of a battleship. If I don't start grooming Her Immense-ness, she politely pulls me too her with a huge head and muzzle. Or she knocks my grooming hand out of the path it's currently taking.
Abbey's not intimidated by the Percheron. Nor anything else for that matter! Abbey just bangs into me and stares upwards pleading for grooming. I saw Rosie nose Abbey's rear-end -- her muzzle making a slight lifting motion at the same time. Abbey looked around at her and re-positioned herself to bang on me. It's times like these that I throw my hands up in the air, hold them up and walk away and find some "real work" to do