We love our Livestock Guardians Dogs! Chrissy has Zola up in Northern California, a Pyrenean Mastiff. Lisa has her sister Rory in Fallbrook. Lisa also has a Spanish Mastiff Cross, Gypsy, she ended up getting Lane, her half sister a pure bred Spanish Mastiff. We also have Luke, our Pyrenean Mastiff male.
These dogs guard our families, our property and keep our animals safe. We don't have problems with predators. The great thing is, the dogs keep the predators away, so there isn't a requirement for one animal to kill another, it's non-lethal predator control. No traps, no guns, just deterrance. Which works out well!
I started with my Livestock Guardian Pack in December of 2012. I drove up to Reno, Nevada and picked up two great girls from Brenda at lgdnevada.com. The girls were very sweet, they had sick stomachs through most of the 8 hour drive home. I’m not sure if it was nerves, or the raw chicken they had been fed before pick up, but it was a stinky drive home!! Rory is a Pyrenean Mastiff, she is fluffy and super sweet. Gypsy is a Spanish Mastiff cross and started out as the Alpha dog. The girls settled in well and we worked on teaching them about the animals, and working with them around the chickens.
In April I started thinking about adding another to the group. I wasn’t sure if I would ever want to breed, but to leave the options open I imported an unrelated male from the Czech Republic (Farma Stekot http://drem.wbs.cz/PYRENEJSKY-MASTIN-PSI.html). Luke landed in LAX after a long flight. When I bent down and looked into his crate he started wagging his tail. That’s exactly how Luke is today, a very mellow, very sweet guy!
In the Spring, I noticed that Gypsy was limping a bit. I had the Vet out to check on her and it was decided that she most likely had growing pains and would grow out of it. As we progressed into summer, Gypsy continued to limp. I wasn’t willing to “wait and see” anymore, so I took her in for x-rays. It was discovered that she had OCD, Osteochondritis Dissecans. Her puppy cartilage had not grown into adult bone. It’s not known exactly what causes this, but since there is a possibility that it’s genetic (the Vet said she should NEVER be bred) I contacted the breeder. If she had other puppies with this problem, she would know it was genetic in her lines.
Brenda, the breeder, graciously offered me a full Spanish Mastiff as a replacement for Gypsy. My friend Adrienne and I drove to Nevada and picked up the sweet girl, we renamed her Lane. Lane was quite the crybaby and insisted on being in the front of the car for the entire ride home, not happy with the kennel in back. Though Lane wasn’t nearly as tiny as she thought she was, we had her in front for the 10 hour drive home.
A couple of weeks later, Gypsy went in for surgery with a Canine Orthopedic Surgeon. Gypsy was in the house for a month. According to the Vet, we were supposed to keep her laying down except when we took her out to go to the bathroom. This was a true test of my patience! One night, we went out to dinner, leaving Gypsy in the bathroom. She jumped over the baby gate and ripped up my wooden blinds and dug at the hardwood floor. All while “sedated” according to the Vet. Essentially, Gypsy wanted to be with me, her pack or outside. She was not willing to be home alone at any point in the month. What a joy with a 100 pound dog that had not previously been housetrained! So, a month and $3500 later, she was free to go back outside!
In September of 2014 the breeder from the Czech Republic sent pictures to steal my heart! She had an unrelated female available! So, in late October we will get our second gift from the Czech Republic!
Our dogs live their entire lives (except that one month with Gypsy!!) outside. They care for, and protect, the chickens, goats, pigs, ducks and guineas. Gypsy does not do well with the guineas, something about the flapping and squawking send her into play mode, that ends in dead guineas. So, she is on “duck duty” in front, or she goes out with the larger animals. Luke does great with all the animals, though he does get upset when the pigs escape their area and eat his food or drink his water. Rory and Lane get along with all the animals, they are more than happy to hang out with anyone. Rory loves all babies, especially the piglets. She likes to check on the farrowing pens and often lays outside the door the first few days of the piglets lives.
It occurred to me last night that I can tell what is going on when I wake up at night by the dogs. They communicate to me very clearly.
Dead Silence -- All is well
Rory and Luke barking -- a baby animal of some sort is in trouble. (Rory does checks of all the animals, when you are in the farrowing pens you will see her watching the babies through the planks).
Rory barking -- a bigger animal is in trouble/labor (Luke seems to worry more about the babies).
Luke alone barking -- 1- A sprinkler head is off and water is leaking 2- The girls (dogs) are doing something they shouldn't 3- Something else is out of place (like the time the goat got his head stuck). Luke is my OCD dog, he thrives on order and does not take kindly to anything not going along in the proper order.
All dogs barking -- coyotes are too close.
All dogs barking furiously -- someone or something is close to the fence line, by listening to where the dogs are, that's where the problem lies.Each dog barking one or two barks, all in different corners -- coyotes are surrounding the property.
Lane alone barking -- another dog in the valley is barking and she wants to converse with it.
Gypsy alone barking -- this only happens during the day and it means her mortal enemy, the neighbor kid is near. However, she seems to have spread her hate to Luke, so now they both get on the fence any time he is near.
Gypsy and Lane barking -- a Guinea/chicken/duck has not went in for the night (happens only at dusk). They typically nose the bird into the door.