Tuesday, August 02, 2016
It’s fairly predictable that within a matter of minutes of meeting me you’ll learn how important livestock guardian dogs are to our western Wyoming sheep outfit. This morning provides an example.
After lambing season ended, we ended up with five bum (orphan) lambs. The lambs spend their nights locked in prime real estate (our yard), but during the day the front gate is open and they are free to roam. This morning, I fed the lambs before daylight, swung the front gate open, and proceeded with other morning chores. Once the sun was up, I returned from checking our main flock and noticed I didn’t see the lambs out grazing anywhere near the house. A quick search confirmed that they weren’t where they should be.
I noticed a few spots of white in the distant sagebrush, and pulled out a set of binoculars for a closer look. Three of our guardian dogs were sitting down along our back fenceline, surrounding the bum lambs and stopping their wild venture away from the safety of the ranch yard. I laughed as guardian dog Rena turned to begin the trail for home, the five lambs lining out behind her, with another guardian bringing up the rear. The third guardian cut back through the sagebrush to return to the main flock as the bum flock received what amounted to a police escort back to the safety of the ranch yard. (Click on photo for larger view.)
Even though we’ve lived with guardian dogs for decades, my respect for the work these animals do grows by day.