When we decided, long ago in the winter months, to begin a fibre flock, we thought we'd make a beefy fence with some electric wire reinforcements and our critters would be safe and sound. However, after a neighbourhood cougar scare that resulted in one young male cougar dead just a few doors down from us, we re-visited the idea of a livestock guardian.
I had originally not wanted another dog...we already have two Labs that do outdoor duty, and our small acreage felt even smaller when we considered adding a third dog to that. I have not ever liked llama or alpaca fleece that much (nor the distasteful look on their faces) to consider bringing one of them to graze with sheep...though they are said to make a good guardian. The closest we came to a livestock guardian was to acquiring not one, but two donkeys! Yes, donkeys! Apparently they are some of the cheapest and most entertaining guardians to be had. But the thought of that bray!, oh that bray!, in the early morning hours made me think twice.
So with just one week to go before our first lamb arrived, we accidentally met Clover.
We fell in love quite easily with Clover. She came from a farm up the road where she was more attached to the sheep than to the farmer, which is an advantage in a livestock guardian. I was especially surprised that while she is an Akbash/Anatolian mix, she is very friendly and endearing, and submissive to the critters she guards. And well, our youngest boy always felt that he wanted his own dog like his older siblings.
We brought Clover home the day our first lamb arrived. She has been the ideal guardian since the beginning. She loves the kids, doesn't mind human company, is submissive to the sheep, and barks up a storm if any neighbourhood dog wanders up our drive and gets too close to her pasture with her sheep.
They really are a different kind of a dog than a pet. They have an incredible inner drive to protect their space and work. Indeed, they love to play and run and be a silly puppy, but if there is the slightest sniff of danger or warning, she abandons whatever she is doing and runs to the fenceline in alert.
And the peace of mind at night? Well, I must say I don't think I would have slept so well through not one, but two visits from a mama bear and her cub within a ten day span, with the worry of my small flock out there, all alone.
Yes, she is pretty great for our little fibre flock...she has some maturing to do...but we are confident she is a good fit for our farm. She's a keeper!