Welcoming Diego

Diego and sheep, out for morning constitutional

January 23, 2010

For more than a year, Freckles, our Great Pyr, has been gamely providing protective services for the sheep and chickens out back in the pasture. We know her heart isn’t in it. She’s sociable and her instinct is to make friends rather than lay down the law. (The one exception: Birds. She hates them to pieces. Her dog naps are dotted with epic canine-avian encounters, most of which end with feathers scattered across the field of her doggy brain.)

So one recent morning, we were surprised to see Freckles purposefully storming around after what looked from a distance like a large feline intruder. In our part of the country, that can mean bobcats. Although Freckles did her best to look the part, we knew that if there was truly a predator out back, we weren’t ready.

We did a search for a second dog, someone who could be the bad cop to Freckles’ good cop. We saw the usual notices from breeders and families who could no longer keep this pet or that one. One posting did stand out though, from a rescue agency that had a lot of experience with Great Pyrenees.

We had concerns about a rescue. It’s hard to know exactly why any animal is being rescued. And given that we would be introducing this guardian into an environment full of incumbent dogs, cats, sheep and chickens families, we naturally had a few qualms.

Those fears were quickly allayed one recent Sunday when Diego arrived. He has his breed’s natural reserve; these are not wagging face lickers. He took in the surroundings slowly, introduced himself to Freckles and together they examined the run-in shed that would be his new home. We suggested a walk around the perimeter of the property but Diego thought that he would just keep an eye on the shed for now, thanks. Over the next week, he gradually increased his range and now conscientiously patrols his complete territory each day, even bringing some discipline to Freckles’ own somewhat loosey-goosey approach to guarding. He’s teaching her new tricks!


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