TwoDogsMid-November, the three groups of sheep finished breeding and it was time to move them to winter quarters. This means that the two LGDs are pasture-sharing again, and this time both loose with all the sheep, which is a new situation. I approached it with caution, and readiness to take action should conflict arise, or should they start doing naughty things together.

Thankfully, I had little to worry about.

One might think, romantically, that they would enjoy each other’s company. But they apparently don’t. They spend most of their time at opposite ends of the pasture. Bronte prefers to hang out amidst the sheep, regardless of weather. Moses prefers sitting by the gate where dinner is served, or reposing in a dog house if it’s quite rainy. He did come from a more civilized background, I suppose, where Bronte literally was born in a barn. 😀 He has even decided that he likes the Dogloo.

MosesInHouse

It’s not that they don’t like each other, they do. When they were still in separate pastures, Moses would get really excited when I’d head toward Bronte’s gate, always wanting to pay her a visit. They’d wrestle and play for a few minutes, but then go off and do their own thing and ignore each other. If I left Moses in that far pasture with Bronte for very long, he’d start to bark and complain, he didn’t wanna be there. He likes his pasture, with the gate where dinner is served! 😀

Moses’ chief naughty behavior, and it’s minor, is food guarding. He will chase the sheep off their grain and take it for himself, and he won’t allow them near the dinner gate nor near the metal garbage cans where food is stored. Fortunately, he doesn’t pursue them far, and they have learned to scuttle away when he huffs at them. When I feed them grain, I have to lock him outside the pasture (with his own dinner) and wait for the sheep to finish.DogsInSnow

This problem extended to Bronte, but it turned out she was the worst offender in this regard. She is not used to eating in the presence of other dogs, and she’s a slow, dainty eater. A couple of times I tried allowing Moses to return to the pasture while Bronte was still eating, but she went after him and they had a tangle or two. Nothing drastic, but resulting in a few tooth marks on Bronte’s face (I imagine Moses is also better at fighting, having lived with other dogs before…).

When 35 pound Border Collies fight, I reach in there and grab each one by a scruff and extract them. But when these two big grizzlies go at it, I am standing clear, and throwing stuff at them to encourage a breakup! They are as tall as me when up on their hind legs sparring! It’s funny, both of them are upset and offended after a fight, but it seems neither one realizes who or what started it, so then they are both sensitive about it later and wary of each other for a bit. Bronte tried to boycott eating for a few days, looking all worried at her food bowl, I think she thought that eating is what caused the fighting!

So, it’s been a bit of a balancing act. This week while the sheep have been in the temporary flood preparedness quarters, I’ve made some progress on getting the dogs to eat in each others’ presence. And also allowing them to eat grain alongside the sheep (strangely, they like dry COB). Moses still grumps, but if I correct him, then he complies and will begrudgingly share.

SidepassTheir behavior towards the sheep has been largely pretty good. Bronte has a few moments here and there of silliness where she hassles the llama or tugs on tails and hind legs and makes scabs on the sheep. The sheep are sensitive to Moses’ grumblings, but he never makes contact. Many times I see either or both dogs moving calmly through the mob of sheep, eating right alongside them, and the herd absorbs them as one of their own, not reacting a bit to their presence. This from a herd that is on red alert if they see a Border Collie from a mile away; so the LGDs definitely have a different presence about them.

So, the cohabitation is working fine. I am going to keep the sheep loose in our RCG pasture until spring growth and/or lambing starts, then pen them up in Electronet again. It gives me a break from dealing with the hotwire, gives the LGDs and sheep some “quality time” together, and I think the RCG will hold up fine under the foot traffic of winter; it’s such a bomb-proof grass.

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