March musings on warm weather plans, pet dogs

dogs in the snow
Dandi, a 1 year old shih tzu, and Reina, 2 year old Turkish livestock guardian dog, get along just fine, at Farei Kennels, in Maine. (Farei Kennels photo)

I am not a writer by trade and often struggle with putting my experiences and observations down on paper, so to speak.

I know that writer’s block is a thing, but I think what I have is more like a sharing block — the idea that nothing has happened to me that would be of interest to others, despite the feedback that says otherwise.

Almost spring

Today, I’m sitting in my little off grid corner of the world watching the snow come down as the temps hover around freezing, hoping it won’t turn to rain again. We had three new lambs born this morning. They are made for the cold, but not the wet, soggy, “barely snow” conditions we’ve had all day. I know they are snug and under cover, but I still fret.

It’s hard in the almost spring time. The weather is starting to warm up during the day, and I itch to get outdoors and start doing things. We are working to improve this property every year, and you can’t help but discuss all the projects slated for summer, despite the snowpack we have.

My sister planted fruit trees last year. I want to know if they made it through the winter, plus she also wants to expand the garden and put in a permanent space for herbs and stuff. It’s my job to haul manure to these new spaces. As interesting as manure might be to certain people, that isn’t what I wanted to talk about.

Meet Dandi

Pet dogs seem to be the topic of the day lately. I have one, Dandi, a shih tzu that just turned a year old. This is my second one of this breed in my lifetime, chosen for their durability, despite being a toy breed, and their cheerful energetic nature.

Like all my dogs, she was raised as a part of the family and a part of the farm. She is obedience trained and stock safe. I know what you are going to say: How could a 10 pound shih tzu not be stock safe? The truth is she can not only stress stock by chasing, especially chickens, but it can also put her in conflict with the livestock guardian dogs.

People make the mistake of keeping their pet dogs away from their livestock dogs to prevent bad habits and conflict. I prefer to make sure they have a stable, well balanced relationship, so that I don’t have the added stress of trying to prevent an encounter. At her size, Dandi can fit through most of our fencing. Anyone with animals knows it only takes a moment for things to go horribly wrong.

Instead, I have livestock dogs that understand that the pet and herding dogs belong here. That they have a job, boundaries and rules that apply to them as much as they apply to the guardians. I don’t have to shuffle dogs when I use my herding dog to move stock, because the livestock dogs think they are being chased. And I can take the little furball anywhere I go without worrying about her safety. They would never harm her and would defend her as readily as any other animal on the farm.


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