My jaw dropped, and I haven’t quite got it off the ground yet!
Animals on a farm offer a never ending variety of surprises and adventures! I’m not normally a huge fan of surprises. However, we had a weird and very cool surprise today.
It actually started with an un-cool surprise. We woke to find six sheep out of their fencing. A strong wind had blown the electric net into a post and shorted it out. So, we headed out for an early morning ovine rodeo.
I’ve talked about our giant dogs before. They’re great with farm animals. They’ve been allowed to interact with chickens, pigs, turkeys, and sheep. They’ve never been aggressive to any of the animals. When I feed the birds in the evening, they station themselves at the coop doors and make sure there are no escapees. The only animal we’ve had issues with is Finnbarr the bum-biting horse. He’s grabbed both dogs. He never leaves a mark, but they give him a wide berth!
Our dogs are Irish Wolf Hounds. They’re a sighthound breed and although they were originally bred for hunting wolves and deer, they’re typically used for racing now. We use them to make us happy (and give potential bad guys a fright). These are well over 100-pound dogs, but they’re the most gentle creatures I know. We tease that my big male is a ‘cat person’. He loves cats, and it isn’t unusual to see him rubbing heads with the farm cats.
As good as the dogs are with animals, we always close them up when the sheep get out. We didn’t want the dogs to scare the sheep into running farther afield or even onto the road. The dogs are very well behaved, but if our male thinks I’m in danger he won’t leave my side. He is the ultimate gentle giant protector. The female loves to run, but will obey if I send her to the porch. Remember, these dogs are not herding dogs or livestock guardian dogs.
This morning, while we were trying to round up our escaped convicts, Jonah (unaware of the ongoing rodeo) let the dogs out. Cathal, the big male, wandered out, looked around, relieved himself, and took up a seat to watch the hilarity ensue. However, our female came closer. Maeve sat and watched what we were doing. Then, as I circled around to edge the sheep closer to their pen, I saw a flash of movement beside me.
It was the dog! She came around me and neatly cut off the sheep. She drove them back to their pen as effectively as any trained border collie I’ve ever seen. When they were in, she looked at me with a self-satisfied grin and plopped down at my feet. I was staring in shock! About that time, Grace shouted to catch my attention. She was pointing and telling me she could see a lamb that had gotten separated from mom and was still outside the fencing.
I hollered back that I would get it, but before I could move, the dog was back on her feet loping gently toward the lamb. The lamb started to run, but wolfies are racing dogs for a reason: they are FAST! Maeve looped around the lamb, put on a burst of speed, and turned the lamb back to the pen. She neatly drove that lamb back to mom, turned on her heels, and came back to my feet. All this without any instruction!
Of our dogs, Cathal has always been my favorite. That’s fair, because, I’m his favorite too. Maeve is very sweet, but she’s higher energy and slightly goofy. She’s more the kid’s dog than Liam’s and mine. However, I developed a whole new respect for her goofy little brain. We now have proof that she’s, at least, smarter than a sheep! That in itself was a pleasant surprise! I’m just kidding, but she did reveal better brains and instincts than I’ve ever given her credit for! That is the kind of surprise we like!
Do you use dogs to work you livestock? Have your furry friends surprised you lately? Please, leave a comment below and share your story!