LGD Notes

In our situation the guardian dogs who are set with the main flock spend the majority of time on their own, away from the yard, without supervision. How effective are they? What’s going on the whole time we’re not there to witness? Are they sorting themselves out? Are they harassing sheep? Just how do they do what they do? What is it that compels them to work almost as a unit like they do?

Some times we’ll spend some time on pasture just watching the dogs but most of the time we see the dogs when we come and go, morning and night, and anytime we come to the pasture at a non-regular time. At these times we get glimpses of their actions.

As we’ve grown along with the dogs we’ve started to take notice of the smaller details. Like where each dog approaches from when we arrive. How particular dogs are often seen as a pair. The body language of the dogs around the sheep. The reaction of the sheep as the dogs travel through the flock. The interactions between the dogs. Who seems to be bossing who. Who plays with who. What they do when we drive away....

Here’s a small sample of my notes from yesterday morning.

There are two pups and five adults out on pasture right now. The two pups are still largely ruled by their stomachs and know they get fed when I arrive. They used to meet me at the gate but recently they stopped doing so. Now they come along shortly after I arrive.

The pups, Lupin and Zuess, are first to approach but come from seperate directions. I’ve noticed they are no longer hanging out together as much as they used to.

Lady is right behind Lupin and Glory comes from nearby. So these dogs were spread out on the near (East) side of the flock. I see Whiskey approaching from the center of the flock. I scan the horizon for Oakley and Diesel. I spy Oakley on the opposite (West) side of the flock. No Diesel in sight.

The first few arrivals, expecting to be fed.

I feed the first arrivals. As I’m feeding, Diesel arrives. He came in from the North.

Just as the first few are finished eating, Oakley arrives. He wastes no time eating. I manage one photo before dogs begin dispersing. I think this is the first time I’ve captured seven of them in the same photo.

After eating, Whiskey and Diesel begin posturing over Lady’s empty bowl.

I don’t interfere with them but just watch them. They each place their heads across the others shoulders. Then some growling and a show of teeth. This goes back and forth.

I still don’t interfere with them. Instead I slip in and pick up the bowl. Problem solved.

The dogs disperse. As I travel the pasture, checking the sheep, I take note of where they went to.

Lady and Lupin head to a hilltop and settle with the sheep.

Zeus follows the Ranger around. Eventually he gives this up. Later I see him playing by himself.

Oakley is gone and I’m not sure where he went off to.  Glory is near the edge of a group of sheep and is already asleep. I don’t approach for a better picture as there is no need to disturb the settled sheep and dog.

Just before I leave the pasture I pass Diesel and Whiskey, together on a hilltop, which is common for these two brothers.