Thursday, February 23, 2017

When you love your dog enough to let him go: A Sad Chronicle of Woe.

When you love your dog enough to let him go: A Sad Chronicle of Woe.
Bandit was my 3rd Livestock Guard Great Pyrenees over the last 8 years.
All of my Pyrs have been rescues. All have had a need and came here to work well. Amazingly well.
Bandit is my 3rd. He has been my best. The best. He is, literally, the best dog of my life. My family's life.
He is kind and fierce and loyal.
He came to me young, and he will leave me old.
Bandit came here at about 2 years old. He is now about 9. Aged for a giant breed of Dog.
In the past few months, he has decided patrolling our farm is boring. He has decided wandering far beyond this neighborhood that has long appreciated his diligence to keeping out aggressive stray dogs and coyotes is the best plan he can come up with.
He will not stay here in our neighborhood.
What?! You say, "He wasn't fenced in?" No. He wasn't. He patrolled all our land and that of the locals and did an amazing job. He was free to roam the the 1/2 mile of safe "guard" space for 7 years. He did an amazing job.
But he stopped. He decided his "space" included many, many more miles. Over and over. He always came back, but the risk was now too great.
That sounds like a small issue to city or pet Dog folks. Keep him inside. Put him in a fence. Lock him up. Be responsible. That sounded great. I love this dog.
I tried that. He is a senior guy now. No need to work, buddy. Retire inside.
But that isn't who this guard dog is. . .he is a wandering, working dog. He gets out or begs to no matter what happens. He doesn't want to retire. I want NOTHING more than to want him to retire.
He isn't ready. Probably never will be ready.
So for over a month, I've kept him in, prayed, begged, cried and tried to keep him fenced in, keep him inside with me. . .tried to walk him, let him out on a 100' cable to exercise freely (but he knows better). He goes over the fence, and when he cannot get himself free because he is inside or on a cable, He lays and cries, poops all over the house (something he would never typically do), howls and barks and refuses food. His hips bother him when they never did before because he will not even walk around because he knows he cannot patrol and guard. He just cries and howls all day and all night.
I thought this was a phase. He'd stop and get used to retirement and confinement in the house. But sadly, he started wasting away.
And I realize my emotions were getting the better of me. Here is this amazing dog who wants to work and can work so well.
I knew a couple looking for an experienced guard, who needs an experienced guard. . .who lives 20 miles from a "real" road or civilization.
He can go and train the next generation to work and protect, and he will love it and do so well, just like he taught Layla for us.
I tried to back out tonight and tell my husband I couldn't let him go, and he said the right thing to me, and that was, "Tinia, that isn't for him. That for you."
He is right. I have to let him go. He is miserable. Time and chance hasn't allowed me to keep him until the end. He isn't happy and deserves to be happy.
Of course, he goes with his new person knowing he will always come back to me if he needs to, and when his time grows short, I'll be there. If he ever stops wishing to work, he will always come back here.
These are the times farming and caring enough sucks.



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LUCAS FARM

Be thou diligent to know the state of thy flocks, and look well to thy herds. For riches are not for ever: and doth the crown endure to every generation? The hay appeareth, and the tender grass sheweth itself, and herbs of the mountains are gathered. The lambs are for thy clothing, and the goats are the price of the field. And thou shalt have goats' milk enough for thy food, for the food of thy household, and for the maintenance for thy maidens

- Proverbs 27:23-27




"I know of no pursuit in which more real and important services can be rendered to any country than by improving its agriculture, its breed of useful animals, and other branches of a husbandman's cares."

- George Washington