Thursday, April 03, 2008

Coursing with Sheepdogs?

Readers will remember writer, sheepherder, and guard dog breeder Cat Urbigkit of Wyoming. Her books can be found here.

A recent note from her to Steve reminds us that flock guardian dogs, thoseancient custodians of sheep and other flocks, don't just passively GUARD.

Cat writes:

I took the runt of the litter of guard dog pups last year and made her a house dog (except for tending to bum lambs around the house). She goes to schools and libraries for book readings and signings and at nearly a year old, Rena has never had the pleasure of tangling with a coyote. Usually my pups have their first encounters and kills when they are about four months old (with baby teeth!!).

I have a pair of coyotes denning up on the mesa just off our place, so I've been turning Rena out after them when I see them. At first she had no idea what to do. She wouldn't let the coyotes come closer to the house, pens or sheep, but she wouldn't attack and kill either (so unlike her mother). She kept looking back at me to see what to do. I was no help at all, since I was busy behind my camera.

Yesterday was her second try. The female coyote started walking toward Rena with her hackles up, so Rena decided to be more aggressive, and got the coyote to run. Once the female got her further away, the male joined in, so I turned my big Akbash stud dog loose as well. Soon I had no coyotes and no dogs.

I finally retrieved the dogs about an hour later when they came back south. They hadn't made a kill, but had a lot of fun.

Coursing coyotes with sheep dogs, the new sheepherder sport? Or have I just stumbled across an old sport? On an even funnier note, I kept up with the chase in the flatbed ranch feed truck (with a 454) bouncing through the sage and melting snow. I eventually buried the truck in a draw that I've never been able to drive through when it's dry, so I walked back to the house, got on my dirt bike and then played in the mud. My son was so proud of me when he got home. "Yeah, I have a stay-at-home mom ....". Ah, peaceful days at the ranch.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Really interesting dogs, and some cool pictures. I am wondering what you guys think about conflict between upland hunting dogs, and these sheepdogs? It sounds like Cat Urbigkit's dogs are tending sheep on her private land, but here in Utah, we are seeing more and more of these sheepdogs on our public lands. I don't know how much of an actual threat these sheepdogs are to hunting dogs, but I have heard a few upland hunters talk about tense run-ins with them.