I went to work with Cletus this morning. He's one of my Livestock Guardian "Security" Dogs (LGD). He prefers to carry no badge, no weapons other than his skills. We followed the sheep out to the Milk Pasture where EmmaLou was grazing. One end of it, we have fenced off for Mister and the rest of it is open. The sheep can walk under the horse fence if they want, but I prefer they go the other way and save the grass inside for the horses to eat.
Bruno didn’t seem to feel well and stayed behind. He was acting kinda funny yesterday too, but its hard to tell if anything is really wrong with him or not. We let him stay where he was happy and went on without him. You can't really argue with an LGD. They are pretty solid minded. I knew he had a good reason to stay, because that's just how he rolls. Who am I to argue? There was one ewe and Annie, who stayed behind so maybe he didn't want them there alone. Anyway, off we went.
It was fun to watch Cletus do his thing. He led them first, then let them pass him up and he followed until they found a happy place. They started to go in with the horses again but Cletus headed them off and led them down the other direction instead, closer to where Em was. Once they sort of settled on a general location, Cletus checked out the area. He was gone out of my sight for about 20 minutes. I had watched him go through a fence to the east but didn’t see him again. I thought maybe he’d left and forgotten about us, so I called and he came up from behind me, from the southwest. He had circled all the way around us, checking his self set perimeter and unbeknownst to me was watching us the whole time. I petted him for a couple of minutes then he decided he'd had enough and walked away very businesslike. He headed off a ways and set himself in a good spot to observe everything from. He had the milk cow, the sheep, the weaner calves in the next pasture and myself in his sight. The 300 weaner calves belong to the boss, but Cletapotamus is especially fond of calves so he checks on them everyday.
As the sheep moved around Cletus would often repostion. He finally walked past me as if he was headed back to the corrals. The sheep remained in the tall weeds, not paying attention. I was little dismayed that he was going to walk off and just leave them. He got to the big tree near the alley and sure enough, you could see them over the top of the thistle from there.
He sat down above them and sniffed the air for any danger that might be lurking nearby.
His workplace is large and airy. The design scheme is top notch.
He has have a nice 'window view' and if you look very closely, you will see the little band of sheep waaaay out there. I was surprised we could see them better from his chosen vantage point than we could up close.
After awhile he got thirsty and headed for water. On his way, a crow flew by. He jumped in the air twice trying to capture it. The Maremmas don't like the crows to land in the fruit trees in their pasture for some reason. They will also go after owls, hawks and other raptors, but don't ever bother the migratory geese, swans, cranes or other birds that pass through. I find that interesting, how they discern a harmless bird from a potential predator. There is much about these dogs I don't understand, they are so highly intelligent and deliberate.
I headed back to the house, finding Bruno still laid out in the feed trough, so I brought him with me to monitor him and make sure it's nothing serious. So far, all he does is sleep. He woke up after awhile and dragged his little 100 lb body onto the couch and slept with his head in my lap. I put out a 'distress signal' to the LGD boards to see if anyone had any ideas what might be wrong with him. There were several well thought out responses, so I will monitor him to see if one of them might be the cause of his behavior.
A while later I saw Cletus looking thru the front window. Exasperated that he'd left my sheep out in the far pasture unguarded, I went around the house to open the gate. He happily trotted in, checked out Bruno who had actually preceded me out the door. I think Cletus was concerned about Bruno missing. Assured, Cletus headed to gate of the little dog proof pasture where...
He had led the sheep! Oh me of little faith.
Poor Bru. I hope he feels better tomorrow or we'll be heading to town...but he's worth it.