Livestock Protection Dogs


HappyDogLast spring, I had first noticed that Moses had a mass on his elbow. Fearing another case of osteosarcoma, I took him to the vet right away to diagnose it. My vet said that bone cancer rarely shows up in the elbow, it’s almost always lower on the limb. And sure enough, x-ray and biopsy confirmed it was just a fatty tumor, like a lot of dogs get. Those are benign as far as risk of metastasis goes. But, this was an “infiltrative” lipoma, meaning it was entangling around the joint.

The picture to the left is from last May when we shaved him, it was pretty large at that point. You can see how it was pushing his whole elbow joint out away from his body. It continued to grow over the summer. It altered his gait some, but didn’t seem to be bothering him much. Until all of a sudden, when it did. I think it must have grown such that it started pressing on a nerve, causing significant pain. Within a matter of a couple of weeks, he went from mildly lame to basically refusing to walk. I hustled to make plans for surgery and got him into the barn since he could not walk well enough to shelter and drink in the pasture.

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MosesWithCoat

Having grown up in the dog show world, I’ve always objected to coated breeds being shaved down. It’s kind of a pet peeve of mine. Why buy a coated breed if you are not going to care for the coat, and are just going to brutally buzz-cut it into a miserable-looking hack job? IMO, shaved dogs look terrible, no matter how skilled the groomer. Not to mention, there is a lot of theorizing about whether shaving coated dogs is bad for them. That it’s stressful for them to go from coated to nearly bald and feeling vulnerable. That they are vulnerable to sunburn, and overheating, since coat can actually insulate them from the sun. That the blunted hair coat ends will grow back matted and harder to groom.

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BronteAndHershey

This pup was an emergency procurement. We’d only had sheep for a matter of months, and had started with a llama to protect them. Plan B was going to be to get a dog if the llama didn’t prove effective. Plan B was invoked quicker than anticipated, as we had coyote kills, right as the llama stood in the pasture with the sheep. We needed better protection, stat!

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I have been sorely remiss in blogging; but my excuse is, I’m just busy! Somehow, blogging is falling down, and off, the priority list; but I’ll try to do better!

Still the biggest focus of my farming efforts is growing this silly pup into a good guardian dog. Bronte, sadly, passed already (I’ll save that topic for another post), so this “li’l” pup is needing to grow up fast and fill big shoes. But, growing she is; as you can see, she’s nearly as big as Moses already, and he’s a 100 lb dog. She is now eight months old. I’ve officially named her Brinsa. Though, often I find myself calling her “Woojee Toodle,” and my husband refers to her as “Dum Dum”; so I imagine one of those two dumb names will stick.

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PupIt has been nearly three months since Bronte was diagnosed with bone cancer, with a stated typical timeline of roughly six months left to live. I have switched her to a ketogenic diet and started treating her with CBD (an extract of marijuana, minus most of the THC), in an effort to slow the cancer’s progress and buy a little more time. She is doing very well thus far, most days just slightly favoring the leg and still very cheerful. The wrist tumor is getting bigger, however. This timeline weighs heavy on my mind, both knowing that Bronte doesn’t have long to live, and also that I don’t have a lot of time to get her replacement trained and functioning reasonably well.

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Worried

Our new pup is a Maremma. She was born on a 2,000 acre ranch. And I don’t mean “the breeder who produced her owns a 2,000 acre ranch.” I mean, this pup was born and reared in an environment where she and the group of dogs into which she was born ranged over 2,000 acres. Naturally, the dams of the litters stick close to home when whelping and rearing young pups. The breeder described that at sixteen weeks, the pups still weren’t ranging far from the safety of the homestead. But, they were indeed ranging, and acclimating to the lifestyle of learning to protect a large span of territory from predators. She hails from Eastern WA, where wolf packs are now a force to be reckoned with, and most ranchers are needing to run large groups of LPDs to protect their livelihoods.

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