Thursday, January 5, 2012
Rex, The Motivational Chewer
This is Rex. Rexy is our new foster (soon to be adopted) livestock guardian dog/farm pooch. He is a Great Pyrenees mix who looks and behaves very much like a standard Pyr, with the exception of his pink nose and his lack of black "eyeliner" that is a hallmark of the breed.
I initially learned about Livestock Guardian Dogs (LGD's) at the same time that I was learning about keeping and caring for goats. There are many LGD's who have been bred for hundreds of years to protect the critters and people in their charge. The Great Pyrenees breed was developed and used in the Pyrenees mountains of France and Spain, as well as elsewhere throughout Europe, to guard sheep and other livestock from various predators. An LGD is not a herding dog. His job to to alert you to the threat/presence of predators and to keep predators at bay.
I found our fella through a Great Pyrenees rescue that works primarily out of Texas, where Pyr's are a favorite livestock guardian choice for ranchers. Unfortunately, because the dogs live out in the field with their flock, and are often not neutered or spayed, the result is unchecked breeding and an overwhelming abundance of Pyr's and Pyr mixes flooding Texas shelters.
Our boy was either picked up by or surrendered to the Ft. Worth animal shelter, where he lived for three months - an extraordinary length of time in a "kill shelter". He was repeatedly passed over for euthanasia because his sweet demeanor melted the hearts of his caregivers, and caused them to lobby on his behalf for more time to get him to a foster or forever home. They contacted SPIN (Saving Pyrs In Need), and Rex and another Pyr were rescued by Lynnette, a small-scale goat & chicken hobby farmer, just like me. She took him home to her pack and gave him the love and socialization that he'd missed out on for so long. She also managed to feed him up good - he came into the shelter weighing 51.5 lbs, and came to us weighing 65! He's still a lean boy, so I can't imagine him 15 pounds lighter. God bless foster parents of all kinds!
So our pup finally arrives here in the great northwest after a 5 day long trip from Texas. He's nervous, itchy and very tired. His first few days here were bumpy - he chewed into a computer cord, ruining it, ate two skeins of yarn, one shoe, one knitting project and the handle of a Care Bear umbrella. He also put his teeth on Livy, which gave us pause about whether or not he was going to be a good fit with our kids. Time and behavior modification (on all of our parts) has since convinced us that he is the right dog for our little place. He has twice alerted us at night to deer and possibly raccoons in the vicinity of the compost bins and goat pens, and has been "leaving his mark" all over the place, letting the foxes, raccoons, opossums and coyotes know that the era of easy pickins is over, and that there is a new carnivore in town. It's only been 10 days since he came home with us, but the chicken thief, whatever it was, hasn't struck again since.
So he's keeping us safe, as advertised, and seems to be sending me a message with his choice of chewing items - the computer cord, the yarn, the knitting needles - basically telling me, Mama, if you sit on your butt and ignore me, I will remove the things that are distracting you via CHOMP, so that you can play with me again.
Message received, buddy. Let's get out there and frolic with the goaties! :)