Friday, January 27, 2012


There he is...

For those of you who don't know, we lost our sweet old boy Doogan about three weeks ago. I'm still barely able to think about it. He had been slowly going down hill for a while and we were getting very close to the point of having to make a really hard decision. Before we did, he made it for us. He died one morning and I found him in his bed, and hope beyond hope that he went peacefully. We should all be so lucky.

Before Christmas, Greg and I had been discussing the possibility of adopting another livestock guardian dog as a companion for Sophie, and to help with Coyote Patrol once we move the sheep back out to the vineyard, but it just didn't seem right to bring another dog into the mix with Doogan having such a hard time. In December, I had emailed Diane, the lady who runs the Great Pyrenees Rescue of Iowa. She had found Sophie for us. I wanted to give her the heads-up that we would be looking for another guardian dog, maybe in the early spring, and she said she'd get back to me. I didn't hear from her for a couple of weeks and then we lost Doogan. About a week later, she called and had a couple of dogs we might be interested in. I had very mixed feelings about making this change so soon but she sent pictures and I decided to go up and visit her farm and meet them. One of the dogs, "Junior" was available and sounded like he might fit in well with Sophie and our farm. I went up there with the intention of bringing him home if we hit it off, and we did. He's very, very funny and friendly, and still very much a puppy, in spite of his size. He's only about a year old and very playful. I felt like he'd be a great buddy for Sophie. She loves her sheep but boy are they boring...

Anyway, I signed all of the paperwork for the adoption, and loaded him up in the Jeep, and off we went. The Rescue is near Cedar Rapids, about two hours from my place, and he fell asleep about five minutes into the trip, and never made a peep. I had brought a crate for him to ride in, not knowing what to expect, and he just curled up in there and did great. We got home just after Greg got home from work so he met us on the driveway.

I went out to the barn and got Sophie on a leash and brought her out to the driveway. We introduced her to him, and it was a little sketchy at first because guardian dogs are hardwired not to trust strange dogs around their flock (which is why we took her out of the barn so they could meet in sort of a neutral place. We gave them lots of treats and let them do a lot of sniffing and growling and finally they worked it out. We then took both of them back out to the barn and put Sophie in with the sheep and kept Gibbs outside of the pen for a little bit, while he explored the barn and got used to things. Then, I took him inside the sheep pen and although Sophie was nervous, she let him investigate the sheep and sniff around the pen. He was curious about the sheep but didn't act up at all. He'd been living with a flock of goats at the Rescue, (BIG GOATS!!!) so we knew he was "livestock safe" but you never know what can happen in a high-stress situation, and I was more worried about Sophie being defensive than "Gibbs" eating a sheep.

Anyway, it all went fine, and he's part of the pack now. If he crowds her, or tries to keep her from getting close to me, she lets him have it but he's learning that for now she's the boss of the barn and he seems to be okay with that. Sophie has laid the smack-down on him maybe twice and he seemed perfectly okay with doing things her way. We'll see how long that lasts as he's going to be much bigger than her. He is a true sweet heart and extremely affectionate.

I kind of felt like it would be a good idea for Greg to give him his new name so that he "belongs" to Greg the way Doogan did and the way Sophie belongs to me, so that is how he came to be named Jethro Gibbs...

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