We have had more losses here at the ranch. Our Livestock Guardian Dog pack was older and being giant breeds their lifespan isn’t as long as the border collies. Still these dogs have guarded our goats, sheep, llamas, chickens, rabbits and cats against all sorts of predators. Read for more…
Kizy, a LGD, Livestock Guardian Dog
Kizy ( ?- July 15, 2016)
We got Kizy, our Great Pyr, in 2009 while out in Colorado. She was $50 off a Craig list ad. We were her third and final home. She has been a joy to have for years.
This huge puff ball of fur could have dragged me all over creation, but she was one of the most gentle dogs I have ever seen. I attached my lead around my waist and put the other end on her collar and she would walk at my side with the lead limp. She has always done that with me.
Don’t get me wrong…she was also stubborn as a mule!! I remember one day when she was sitting on our two seat settee in the cabin in Colorado, and she was taking up the ENTIRE settee…I told her to get down. She refused. I tried to push her down and she sat up and growled at me. I told her not to growl at me and pushed her again. She took my entire arm in her mouth and closed with pressure. She didn’t bite but she was telling me that she wasn’t moving. I, on the other hand, told her that she WAS moving, threw her down, yelled at her and tossed her butt out of the cabin. I didn’t speak to her for 2 solid weeks straight. I acted as if she didn’t even exist. She was crushed…..we talked at the end of the two weeks and it never happened again. Even up to the day that we had to lay her to rest, if I spoke of that day, she hung her head because she remembered well. But just to be clear, I did catch her on the new settee about a week or two before she passed. She saw me coming and hopped down as fast as possible as if to say you didn’t see me do that. So stubborn……
After moving to MI, I fell a couple of times from the kitchen down the two steps into the living room. The last time that happened, it was a complete fall, flat on my back, two steps down on the concrete. I was in so much pain I had my eyes shut, and was yelling. Charlie wanted to help me up but I said don’t move me. I had to let that pain subside a bit before I could even open my eyes, let alone move. When I was able to open my eyes, imagine my surprise to see Kizy’s concerned face about 1.5 inches from the end of my nose!! I wrapped my arms around her and pulled myself up off the floor with her help. I adore my border collies, but I could not have done that with one of them.
Kizy adored children. Even small afraid ones. Those were her favorites, and she was very gentle with them. The cats also fascinated her, the smaller the cat the more interest. It was her innate protection for anything small. That is part of being a LGD, Livestock Guardian Dog. She guarded our stock in CO even though she wasn’t bonded with stock like a LGD from birth. She guarded in the pens that surrounded the small livestock pens. She was a bit more bonded with humans than stock but since they were MY stock she guarded them with joy.
When Bj passed on in Colorado, I was heart broken and sitting in the barn yard. Kizy came to me and I wrapped myself around her and her fur and just sobbed. That happened a few years prior when Chaz’s Father passed and a few years before that when Chaz’s Mother passed. Each of these passings was super hard on me and sobbing in the barnyard wrapped around Kizy hugging her was one of the few things that helped. Every time one of those important people had passed, it worked out that Chaz was offshore. So Kizy was my furry Chaz to help me through it all.
After moving to MI, she retired to the house. Our pens were not set up in a fashion that she could roam around them, and she was getting old. We reckon she was about 3-3.5 years when we got her so at her passing last Friday, I do believe she was 10.5-11 years old. She had greatly gone down hill in the last six months with her hind quarters not getting proper brain stimuli and this was causing her great pain and making it difficult for her to control her feet to stand or walk. It was hard letting her go because even to the end she was worried about who would guard me. We lost Rowan about a month ago and he was another LGD that has always fixated on guarding me. She knows that Broch is the only LGD in the house left that guards me and he is only a year younger than her. But I assured her that Broch would protect me as well as our border collie Cinnamon, who has stepped up and taken her mother Abbey’s place as pack leader and lead guard border collie. Kizy saw the spot that was to be her final fur resting place and I asked her if she wanted me to plant flowers on her head like I did Abbey or on her heart like I did Rowan, and she laughed and said I could do what I wanted because she would just dig them up anyways. Defiant and stubborn to the end! You will be missed my darling puff ball….sniff.
Abbey Gail Dec 3, 2000- May 17, 20016
My darling sweet Abbey. My heart is broke. You were never a dog, you were always a human with fur. I remember the arguments that Abbey had with Bj about watching the cooking channel at the office in CO. Abbey said cooking channel was stupid and put on something cool like Animal Planet. She loved to watch me cook but on TV they never drop anything so cooking shows were boring!!
Abbey would express her happiness at watching certain TV shows and commercials. She went mental over cat commercials….and a good footie match on TV. oh my. I remember the afternoon we had on a football match (soccer for you Yanks), and they kicked the ball from one end of the field to the other. This meant the ball went from one end of the screen to the other and Abbey was behind the TV trying to find that darn ball. She has turned off the TV numerous times in her excitement and jumping up at the TV. She had a special video tape we made for her. It had 15 minutes of football, 15 minuets of animal planet, 15 minutes of football, and so on. She would take that with her to Granny and Granda’s house and watch it with Granda all the time we were gone on any trips. Funny but she had Granda trained well. She would sit all pretty in front of the TV and stare at the blank screen. Heave a big sigh and look over her shoulder at Granda, turn and stare at the blank screen. She would repeat this until Granda turned on the TV and popped in her tape. She mae be daft, but she was nae feel.
And yes she would bark at the cows on the TV even if they were the cartoon laughing cows as she was smart enough to KNOW they were those HORRID COWS!!! and they must go. She barked at the Cow statue at Country Dairy, the laughing cow cartoon TV cows, the cows out on the range in CO as we traveled all over, and even the mere mention of cows or if I spelled C-O-Ws…even that she knew. She did NOT like cows!! she said they were mean and hurt mama. That would be when the Highland Cattle that we had briefly…well one of the cows came after me and kicked me. Abbey never forgave the entire species of cows for that, not even once.
Abbey was a red tri color….red, cream, and white…border collie. She is a proper Scottish border collie, born and raised in the highlands of Scotland. Hoof and Mouth was rampant when Abbey was first born and no one was allowed to the farms until things had cleared up. By that time Abby was already 4 months old. We were looking for an 8 week old puppy and the farmer did have two litters available. One litter was 2 months old and one was 4 months old. We looked at both litters and had one from each chosen, both having the same markings and coloring. I was drawn to the younger litter. We walked into the farmers kitchen where the pups were not allowed and Abbey walked right in as if she knew where to go. She walked under my chair and laid down. She chose me and it was settled. We took her home. Later we found out that the farmer, who was not home when we chose the pup, told his wife that he had wanted to keep that pup.
Abbey was all about work. She took her job of taking care of us seriously. She came into the house and took over the role of head dog even though Tessa was 18 months old. Abbey was the boss of the Scottish border collies until the day she passed. She moved with us from Scotland, to Colorado, to Michigan.
We did breed her one time and she had 6 pups. One pup we kept, Cinnamon, who is similar in build to Abbey. She is nothing like her in color as Cinnamon is a blue Merle, but she is super smart like Abbey. Cinnamon was very bonded to Abbey and it has been hard on her with Abbey gone.
The last day that we had together was a lovely day here in Michigan. I was planting flowers and plants in various parts of the yard and Abbey was wandering around with me. She would not settle down and kept pacing so I was always trying to find her. Finally she did lay down and rested in the grass at the back of the house by the gazebo. I was planting some flowers there for a while and pulling some weeds. I decided I had enough and since Abbey seemed calm, I put my tools away and got out a pillow from the gazebo. I put the pillow on the ground by Abbey and laid on the grass with my head on the pillow. I stretched my arm out in front of me and Abbey laid her head over my arm in my hand. It was breezy and the wind chimes were singing by our heads as we laid there soaking up the sun bits coming through the tree tops. It was peaceful and wonderful and horrible all at the same time as we only had that half hour before we had to go to the vet to let her go. How can my heart be so filled with joy and so broken and full of tears at the same time?
Charlie had dug Abbey’s final resting place before we left and I showed it to Abbey and told her it would be her new bed for her tired worn out fur. I told her that SHE would be free to play and romp with BJ who passed on three years prior and that her fur would sleep here. I told her that I would plant some flowers by her head and we trimmed up the tree branches so that we could place a glider underneath to sit. I hung some bells and a few chimes on the big pine boughs and call them Abbey’s bells which I have to ring every time I go out to see her. She chose to have Charlie put her final place next to Rowan on the one end and he had passed on 4 days prior. She knew it was time but she did NOT want to leave us. Her heart had developed a serious murmur a year prior, she was having difficulties walking and in severe pain every day…yet she did NOT want to go. She was 15.5 years old and will be missed more than I can ever say. I am sad when any of my animals die, but Abbey is the first of those that I just can not bear.
A lot of passings…..Gracie and Rowan
I haven’t wrote for a while as there has been so many passings happening here on Alba Ranch that it feels overwhelming. I know that loss is part of life and particularly of ranch and livestock life, but sometimes things just get you down.
On my birthday, April 13, I lost one of my Nigerian does. I have had high hopes for this gal since the day she was born. She was born first and was rather small but spunky. Her sister was much larger and thrived, until things went wrong and we lost her at 4 months old. So Gracie was still in my mind a lot.
She was a doeling off the only daughter I had from one of my best does. I had worked with her mother for ages but she just would not work with me. I sold her to one of my friends and she is as good as gold with her. We all have preferences and I just was NOT hers! I was greatly looking forward to little Gracie growing up and being a solid steady milker in my herd. She was pregnant and went into labour on my birthday. This was her first and ended up being her last. She had one buckling that was huge and stuck. We tried to help her pull it, the vet tried, we finally had to put her down after making certain there were no other kids stuck behind the first one. That buckling was super huge and took up all the space and of course had passed during the trauma of this delivery. I lost them both that day. That was my first time losing animals like this and particularly with the Nigerian dwarf dairy goat breed. In 10 years of having goats, I had never had to go or even try to go into the back side of a goat and help pull a kid. My hands were too large for her and a friend had to help and with her small hands there was just no moving that stuck kid.
We have lost 2 of a set of triplets this year. One at birth and another that was weaker around 4-5 days old. I have heard others talk about this as common place but in my herd this is not common place and was hard to handle alone as Charlie was off shore working.
Rowan March 2006-May 13, 2016
My Rowan, big boy, mama’s boy, Roweeeeeena….these were a few of the nick names that Rowan had. He came to us in 2006 out in Colorado with his brother and my first pair of dairy goats. He has been a loyal buddy and although he would guard the goats when I asked him….he really preferred to guard me…MOM!
This last three years he has only guarded part time in the summers as he has never been able to tolerate the cold well. And he had been full time retired this last year into the house. He started limping on his front shoulder a year ago and it would go away, come back, go away,…and repeat. He seemed ok in between bouts of limping and there were no apparent wounds, injuries, swelling, sores or anything. I wondered if he pulled muscles when romping out in the pen with the other dogs. During the winter we added some pain killers to his daily routine to help with the pain as it was becoming more regular with the coming part and less of the going away part. I knew that he was not getting better and we had to make the decision to let him go on May 13 as he just couldn’t walk without extreme pain and that was with pain killers. His shoulder had finally swelled up and even with essential oils and lavender, the swelling was going down but the pain and limping was not. He had no other health issues but being the big Anatolian boy that he was, his not being able to walk was debilitating for him and impossible for me to help him due to his size. He was ready to go and it was a smooth passing without incident other my my heart cracking. I still remember the day when he was about 2 years old and had been barking all night long for approximately 9 months….yes I said 9 months..that I told my husband Rowan was not going to make it to his 2 year old birthday as I was going to strangle him. I didn’t mean it..honest …..and I miss him dreadfully.