Sunday, November 24, 2013

Incredible Instinct

We brought in a pair of new ewes to the flock. They look pretty much the same as some of the other ewes that we have (same breed). It was so interesting, however, to see the guard dog's reaction to the new sheep. All of the sheep were penned up including the new ones, while we loaded up some others who were moving to a different site. Neve, the Maremma guardian dog was in a different pen to make loading easier and getting in and out of the pasture easier (sometimes he wants to dart out of an open gate).

When we turned the group of sheep loose in the pasture and let Neve out as well, he ran to the group of sheep and cut out the two new ones like a cutting horse. He held them off of the old group of sheep until he had inspected them to his satisfaction. Then and only then, did he allow them to join the group. The guarding and observation instinct of these dogs is just amazing and fantastic.

If you shed off a single lamb and if Neve is around, he  might rush over to see if you are doing anything untoward with that lamb. If a dog makes a tight flank that causes the sheep to scatter, you will find a Maremma in your midst very quickly. He is very accepting of the border collies and their work, but he also does not like improper work that upsets his sheep!  If a sheep dies, he will not allow vultures to come and clean the carcass, also. He is very observant of different types of birds; ducks, turkeys, and geese, are all allowed into the pasture as they like. But any hawks, vultures, ravens or other birds of prey get barked at and chased off.

This picture is from last year when we had green grass at this time of year. Right now we are so dry and in need of rain, that it looks like a moon scape in the pasture. We are all hoping that we get more rain and soon!

I worked with Spot a little bit on the sheep today. He thought about stopping, more than he has been. At one point the sheep ran away from him again and he cast around them pretty well and actually stopped on the mini-fetch. There was a teensy bit of progress. He is trying as hard as he can right now, I think.  Me too. :-)

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