A Doggone Good Announcement
Bad situations are just that: situations. This hard thing you’re in right now won’t be your forever. To quote one of my favorite poems: “Listen, I love you, joy is coming.” — Veli
Here’s What’s Happening At Good Spirits Farm
We! Got! A! Dog! Since our 15-year-old hound dog passed away this summer, we’ve been having preditor issues (RIP Super Mama Chicken). We knew coyotes and bobcats would get bolder as winter made food harder to find. So many nights I’ve laid awake worrying about our sheep as coyotes howled in the distance. If something happened to Juliet, I’d never forgive myself!
But: Livestock guardian puppies need two years to mature and tons of training before they can reliably be left alone with your stock. We really did not have two years to work with. For the past six months, I’ve been scouring Craigslist for adult livestock guardian dogs. Given how labor-intensive they are to raise and train, though, finding an adult is rare.
And: When you do find them, they’re often being rehomed because they’re problem dogs. Some bark incessantly. Some will find a way out of any fence. The worst offenders kill the very livestock they’re supposed to protect.
Last week, I saw an ad for a three-year-old Anatolian shepherd. The backstory I was told was that her owner was selling their farm and they’d returned the dog to the breeder. The pup was just far enough away that a trip to meet it was out of the question (seven hours both ways), so if I wanted her, it was going to have to take a leap of faith.
I went back and forth for about 8 hours, trying to decide if this was a gamble I was willing to take. On one hand: I could get a wonderful, fully trained dog. On the other hand: I could inherit a huge amount of problems and end up with dead sheep and a dog that needs a new home. But when I found out the 90-pound dog was being kept in a small kennel, I knew I had to take the leap. I figured even if she did not work out here, I could get her out of that situation and into a better home.
A heroic friend who happened to be road tripping through Virginia picked her up and brought her to the farm on Tuesday evening. We put her in a safe spot for the night and waited for her to start barking. Or digging. Or showing aggression.
So far? She’s been just about perfect. Veli (a Turkish word that means guardian or custodian) is the sweetest marshmallow of a dog I’ve ever met. In fact, I was questioning whether she was going to be too sweet to guard, but then the UPS guy rolled by and I could see her noodling over whether she was supposed to go on alert. She clearly has guarding instincts buried in there somewhere!
Most importantly, though: So far she seems to be really great with our flerd. Most of the sheep flock is scared of her—they’re naturally fearful of canines, and with good reason. But Juliet, our orphan lambie who was raised in the house with our dog Molly, lost her MIND when she saw we got her her very own dog. She runs up to the fence to greet Veli, who rolls over and shows Juliet her belly. It’s cute overload.
Veli will spend the next couple weeks bonding with us and having supervised visits with our flerd. Stevie Steer, our big, goofy cow with pointy horns who fancies himself the current herd protector, is going to need some time to get used to Veli, and Veli needs time to understand this is her home before we turn her loose. We also need to teach her chickens are not squeaky toys, and that they need guarding, too. And, we need to give her time to negotiate a truce with the cat.
Here’s What I Loved This Week
The soft skin of Veli’s belly. Belly rubs are a pure dopamine hit for both her and me, and who doesn’s love that?