Sunday, October 24, 2010

Dog Update: New Addition

I have two blog posts drafted- one about the rest of show season, and one about Linear Appraisal. They are fabulous! But, they will be typed up later because:
1) They are in the other room. It is late and I don't feel like looking for them now, and

2) NEW PUPPY!!!!!!

I know, you want pictures. But first, I must do an update on Stella since I haven't done one in *forever*. I meant to do one after the first year of having her here, but I realize that it has been almost two years since she joined us. It must feel a bit like an anniversary of some sort though, because lately my mother-in-law has been commenting on how much Stella has changed since we first got her.

And she is right!

To meet her today, you would really never know that she had any sort of issues, much less with fear aggression, much less with women. She is still not quite sure what to do with children- they are the size of the livestock she works, and yet, they look like people for whom she works. Dog is confused! But, she is much more comfortable meeting new people, and is generally a much more confident dog.

After three herding lessons, Stella reached her equivalent of adolescence, and going to class was not all that helpful since she mostly didn't think that she needed to listen to me. Besides, I did not want to take the chance of overwhelming her at such a young age, as is easy and tempting with so many Border Collies so I backed off on her herding training. She still has the basics down, and I'm letting her have time to mature more before trying to do anything more advanced. Some days she shows me glimmers of brilliance- a gorgeous outrun, just enough pressure to get the goats to move to where I need them, and a perfect response to "that'll do".

Other days, she is a bowling ball, my goats are the pins, some chaos ensues. Also, the neighbors are probably aware that Stella is not doing as asked.

But! Even on the days she doesn't listen as well as I would like, she is quite helpful. A couple of weeks ago, five of us could not catch one of the bucks, but with Stella's help, the buck was captured. She brings in the milkers, helps move the dry does, and keeps the goats from even thinking of doing some of the things they used to try.

She is a delightful companion, with an incredibly expressive face, and has learned enough "parlor tricks" that we sometimes forget a few when showing off. She listens in the morning for my alarm to go off and then comes in the bedroom to make sure I am awake by licking my nose. If I tell her to get, she'll go sit by the window for about ten minutes, then come back to see if I want to get up now. Who knew a dog could have a snooze button?

So, there was mention of a PUPPY, right?


Just under two weeks ago, I picked up a five and a half month old Armenian Gampr.

I know- you've never heard of the breed. I had not either until friends of ours got one, and she seems to be working well for them. The Gampr is one of the lesser known livestock guardian dog (LGD) breeds used in this country. They don't bark unless there is a good reason to, they don't like being away from home (so not a lot of wandering off the property), and our friends were so happy with their Gampr that I thought the breed would be worth a try.

Introducing Minion!

With Stella- who is clearly trying to pretend that puppy doesn't exist.

I now have two very purpose-bred dogs, though bred for very different purposes. Stella is very biddable- she reads my face and will react to changes in my expression. Minion, on the other hand, is happy to see either Andy or me, happy to say hi, and then will move on to what she would like to be doing. She has very little recall, and for that reason, she is not yet roaming with the goats. I've been getting the goats used to seeing her on the other side of the fence for the last week and a half, as I figure it will take a while for them to get used to her and not automatically figure dog = move somewhere now. Minion has spent time with sheep and goats, and has not shown much interest in chasing the goats in enclosed spaces, but I don't want to take a chance until I have more of a relationship with her and trust that she will listen to me should she start showing more interest in the goats than I think is healthy for all parties involved.

She's already about 20% larger than Stella, and if she stands on her back legs, can put her paws almost on my shoulders. Her front legs are about the size of my arms.

Did I mention that she is not yet six months old?