Saturday, November 2, 2013

Angst and the Guardian Angel



It was a fine day, so we saddled up and decided to go for a long ride. Heading across several large pastures (large being of a size in keeping with a 250,000 acre ranch) we picked our way through miles of grassland, past rock jacks, around sloughs, through willows and across fields then weaved our way back to one of my favorite places, an old willow corral. It has decayed to the point of being pretty much unusable now, but was one of the prettiest places on the ranch, in my opinion, with the willow reed fencing and the wild roses growing on it. My camera went dead which was pretty disappointing because I want to get some good pictures of what little is left of it, before it's too late. We rode on by and headed for the far side of the valley, determined to make a long, long ride today.We were several hours out and I happened to glance behind me and with mixed feelings I turned my horse around. 

Bruno, my self appointed body guard/Livestock Guardian/nursemaid/Maremma/100+ lb Guardian Angel, who is certain that I am not capable or safe anywhere on the ranch without his presence, was galloping towards us. He had apparently managed to scale the fence of the only 'dog-proof' pasture we have, in which I had contained him and he tracked us several miles across the ranch. He is built for speed and power, not for distance and his heavy coat made it even more challenging for him to and catch us in the warmth of a sunny fall day. He was obviously greatly relieved to have found me, clearly proud of himself and so strongly convinced in his own mind that he was doing a most excellent job, I couldn't reprimand him. He had a look on his face of absolute joy and accomplishment and looked at me as if to say “I am SO glad I finally found you! It’s not safe out here, there are ________ “(coyotes, cougars, field mice)" fill in the blank.




 We turned and headed back home, Bruno happily riding drag and occasionally trotting alongside, ever watchful for predators.  He had overheated himself and I chuckled because he hates water but continued to immerse himself in every irrigation ditch we passed.


The thing about dogs...they can be trusted. They are never judgmental, or malicious. They are faithful, sincere, devoted. Honest. Loving. Dependable. Exasperating.

The fall calves have been weaned. These are smaller, younger calves and have a more difficult time adjusting. Most are currently 3 miles away below the processing corrals. Coyotes have been bad this year and killed a few so there are currently 3 trappers on the ranch trying to eliminate some before the cows start calving again. That puts my Maremmas at risk of being caught in a trap. I’ve had to lock Potamus in a small pen with sheep at night, and keep Bruno in the house. Potamus is the flock guardian and pretty much stays in the pen with the sheep. Bruno is a perimeter guardian and spends each night out patrolling and deterring or confronting predators. It's hard to confine them. They absolutely hate it. I’ve been letting them come in the house to eat because the ranch cats have been stealing their expensive dog food. I wish they would eat the ranch cats, but none the less, since the Maremmas haven’t been free to do their job, the ranch dogs have figured out they have free access to my chickens as well. In great frustration, I have all the chickens and guineas locked in their little henhouse for protection.



This morning in the wee hours, Bruno woke me up because he wanted out. It was all quiet so I figured he was just hot or needed a bathroom break. I opened the door and he quietly slipped through. 

This morning he was gone. He scaled the back fence again and didn’t come when I called. He could have either been guarding and disposing of a coyote kill, or he could have been caught in one of the $@!!*&# traps. I never know until he either shows up, or the trappers check their traps and find him there if he is okay or not.


It’s unbelievable how much damage anxiety can do to your body. He’s often been in the area the traps are set, and a couple of years ago was caught in one of them. I guess until the trappers are all gone, I will just have to deal with the anxiety and watch my hair turn a  lighter shade of gray day by day.

This morning Randyman told me that the cowboss complained Bruno was chasing the calves back from the fence. His sheep are on the other side of the fence so that is why he does what he is doing. Unfortunately, I didn't get to talk to the cowboss myself, but I do know he has disdain for LGD's, as his only real experience with them was a friend who apparently got one and locked it in a barn with a bunch of lambs. It was, of course, a disaster. People seem to overlook the fact that these are still dogs and you can't just throw one out there and leave it and expect great results. It's not like putting an Alka Selter in your water. Anyway, I have moved all the sheep once again so there is no common fence between them and the calves and hope that solves the problem. I don't want any misunderstandings between my dogs and the new cowboss. When it comes to human vs dogs, dogs nearly always lose. Better to play it safe.



17 comments:

  1. You do have a most handsome and loyal guardian angel. I hope the trappers are done soon and he can again patrol as he is want to. Big hugs to all....

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    1. I know one of the trappers and he is a great guy. He doesn't like trapping close like this because Bruno got caught in one of his a couple years ago and he was really careful after that, but the boss wants these coyotes gone so I guess he asked them to. It's a tense situation for me!

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  2. you sound distracted but its for love and it's all right. my dog is my good friend although i've never called him my best friend because i know who my best friend is. i don't look forward to the moments when i have to let kip and journey go so its good to see ur concern. it's been awhile since I've talked to u. I wrote a poem...it starts out..."i don't know how to tell you, what I'm feeling on this day. i wished that u could tell me, I could go a different way." the thing about riding is no matter how far u go u know ur going to turn and go back home and I guess even when it gets tough we still know that...huh...in our walking the Way. somehow everything works out for us...though at times we feel overwhelmed. it makes me happy ur riding tho. God bless u petra lady...dan-El

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    1. U R so right! Glad to see you danielsan

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  3. I love reading your adventures. I hope Bruno stays safe and keeps out of harms way.

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  4. Bruno and Cletus are my hero dogs. I wrote a story for English about too fictitious dogs called Bruno and Cletus. They saved a little lost girl from a grizzly. My classmates want another. Mama said I could write you once. I'm 13 now and not a picked on little baby but she still sees me like that and I'm kinda glad she does. I have so many good friends now and they let me part of their family and one part is to read your posts. Alex

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    1. Alex, I cannot even describe how pleased I am to hear from you. My boys are in their mid 30's and they are still my babies. It's just the way of mom's. You guys are just too close to our hearts ever to be severed. It has been my privilege to get to know you thru Daniel, Dex and their family. God's blessings on you and yours!

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  5. There is nothing like a dog for loyalty and perseverance. Make the "cowboss" happy, because it's better to move the sheep than start a war. Like you said, the dogs will not win.
    Love the dog photos... such beautiful animals.

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    1. Yup. It's been hard, because everything now thinks its safe. The cowdogs are running thru the back yard and last nite there was a cougar behind the boss' house. I can't turn these guys loose until after Dec. The hard part is the anxiety of Bruno climbing out of the fence. I may have to try and run hotwire later today to beef it up.

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  6. Alvin has turned out to be a bit of a dud as far as bold, brave guardians go, but he has certainly made a place for himself in my heart ! There is something about maremmas, even the ones that wash out :-) Perhaps they carry old souls ?

    I hope your new cowboss learns to appreciate them, he's missing a real treat by not knowing them.

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    1. How old is Alvin now? ...and gee...you named him after a CHIPMUNK! That probably didn't boost his confidence LOL!!!

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    2. We got him six months ago as a 4yo, so we didn't name him :-D No, Alvin probably wouldn't have been my choice as an inspirational name either ;-) But considering he generally gets "Ally-wally", well, Alvin sounds a bit more dignified in comparison !

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    3. I'm sorry to hear he isn't what you hoped for in a guardian. Is he attached to the stock? Perhaps he needs a second dog to help him sort of break out of his comfort zone. Potamus seems to be quite the chicken himself, but with Bru here, they make a great team

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    4. We are on the lookout for a younger female maremma as a companion for him. I'm not so worried he didn't turn out to be bold and brassy, his mere presence here keeps the foxes at bay. My main concern is that since he didn't bond with the flock he is lonely. If we can get him a friend I hope he will be happier :-)

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  7. Hey there Petey. Hope all is well. Your character description of dogs made me reflect a bit. Dogs are said to be "man's best friend". I suppose it is because they actually possess all of the qualities that "man" is supposed to possess, yet fall short. So glad the He created dogs for us. Especially LGD's. Be blessed, Staci

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  8. It sounds like a very frustrating situation, for you and the dogs. It was very touching to hear how Bruno tracked you down, and very encouraging to hear that you are able to ride for hours. What a difference from a few months back! I hope your new cowboss can learn to appreciate the excellent job Bruno and Cletus do for the entire ranch, and will pray for you and this situation that you will "be anxious for nothing..."
    Kristi

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    1. I am soooo much better than I was last year. THe infusions really are making a difference. Not in remission yet, but life is livable again! I don't think anyone is ever going to really appreciate the dogs as they don't understand how they work, and no one but me has small stock to protect. :(

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