Farmers like ourselves who live in the mountains with predators have dogs: Big dogs. This mountain dog was bred to protect livestock. They are called LGDs (livestock guardian dogs). The Great Pyrenees is a very old breed that has been used for hundreds of years by shepherds, including those of the Basque people who inhabit parts of the region in and around the Pyrenees mountains of southern France and northern Spain.
In fact, they are so conditioned to protect livestock, their fur has a double coat. The weather resistant double coat consists of a long, flat, thick, outer coat of coarse hair that lies over a dense, fine, woolly undercoat. The coat is thicker around the neck and shoulders where it forms a ruff or mane to fend off wolf attacks.
Our Great Pyrenees Maggie stays very close to our sheep, goats and alpacas. She has also adopted the neighbors’ cows as her herd and also another neighbor’s baby puppy. She watches them all intently, laying restfully we think, though in truth she’s watching, monitoring nearly all the time. Last night however, she was gone for hours: six and a half hours to be exact. Yes, we were worried. She’d never skipped dinner before, not come to the call of our voices and the sound of our UTV or simply been on the deck resting, by nightfall before. We were worried. We checked and checked with neighbors checking too as they all love her as well as she watches them in the woods. There have been three bears in our direct 1/4 acre vicinity in the last month. At 11:30pm she returned last night shaking and exhausted. Her legs were either shaking from running so much or shaking from being around something very big and scary and new to her. Our guess, along with that of our neighbors, is that she had her first encounter with a bear and she was doing her job protecting our entire mountain ridge and valley with the animal/s. Maggie is only 8 months old so she is learning as she goes. Something very big must have spooked her while she committedly did her job. We all gave her a great deal of praise and we’re happy she is home. The neighbors too are happy there is a guardian watching over the whole of the valley and the mountainous ridge that is home to much livestock, not just our own.
The Great Pyrenees is an amazing dog. We learned just how much last night with Maggie clearly doing her job which at night only she can do. We will continue to share stories of this amazing breed as Maggie grows into a full grown livestock guardian and mother of future baby guardians.
God Bless ! L. Davis