Upon coming to the homestead I got introduced to the concept of a livestock guardian dog (LGD). Seeing as we had nothing but chickens we weren’t ready to invest in a real purebred LGD. Instead we went to an event in the Mall by the Humane Society and found ourselves the cutest most adorablest had to have …….. PUPPY!
She was an 8 week old, German shepherd, Australian shepherd, border collie mix, (or so they think from her looks). Her name was given by the shelter, Ellie, and she practically trained herself.
We used a bell system to let us know when she had to use the outdoors and she only ever had a couple of accidents in the house. She became like our chickens, Free Range. But there was something missing, a partner. Ellie got a bit lonely so two weeks later we picked her up a buddy, Bella the Newfoundland.
Now this breed is on the LGD breed scale but the question arose “Was Bella from a working dog line?” So we called up the original owners and found out she came from a working farm!!! But her parents were the laziest dogs…..NOOOO!!!!!
It all started going down hill from there. Chewing, nibbling the Littles, chasing the chickens, peeing everywhere, this all continued until the unfortunate happened. Two thirds of the chickens died from the neighbors dog and Bella’s rampage. I know there is a chance I could have trained it all out of her, but with three Littles under the age of four I mentally was not there. If it was during any other season of life I would have considered keeping her, but it wasn’t so we found Bella a home (without chickens) and continued on with just the one dog, Ellie, and things calmed back down.
When considering a Livestock Guardian Dog know that BREED matters, PARENTS matters, and your willingness to TRAIN them matters. Even though breed does play a big role in all of it, know that personality trumps it all. Eventually we will acquire a real LGD but until that time comes, a good farm dog will have to do.
Ellie quickly became an excellent farm dog, she kept coyotes away and only bothered the chickens when she wanted to eat the scraps I gave them or drink out of their waterer. The turkeys would climb all over her, the feral cat kept her company, and the newest kittens learned that she was their friend and only wanted to play. Unfortunately our fence was not up to par, our entrance gate didn’t work, and Ellie had discovered she could get out.
On the morning she figured out there was a way out she tried to follow me out of our driveway, I stopped and put her back and the Hubby kept her from running. Later on that day as we picked the fruit on our fence line my heart dropped. I heard a huge thud and ran to find that Ellie had been ran over by a car and the car didn’t even stop. She died on impact. We promptly buried her, said our goodbyes and spent the rest of the night crying (ok I was the only one crying), and talking about how good of a girl Ellie was and how she was in Heaven with Jesus, if you are not a believer that is OK, but we are and like the eldest Little likes to say, “Great Grandpa is taking care of Ellie until we get up there ourselves”. We will miss her dearly and I miss having that security she brought us.
One day another dog will come to live on the homestead, but until that day we will be fixing the fence, making sure the gate will shut, and saving up to be prepared financially.
Have you ever had a farm dog or Livestock Guardian Dog? I hope your story ended better than ours, do tell 🙂