Tuesday, June 8, 2010

True Shaggy Dog story

No one who has been following these pages will forget the story of Waldo. After Buddy disappeared, I needed a new goat dog to protect the herd against coyotes. I found 'Waldo' who had lived with goats for the two years of his life. When he arrived, I befriended him with treats and cuddles. But I also explained to him that his job was (like Buddy's) to stay with the goats and look after them. He was introduced to the herd, tied up near the barn, and coralled with them for two weeks. He was not interested. And they just kept running away when he bothered to approach them. Finally I relented and invited him into the house. He immediately peed on the planter, and I hurriedly escorted him out. Though we did connect at some level, we were not really communicating. And he left. He found another family across the hills. I brought himn back twice. But he returned to them. I was about to travel on and off for weeks, so I gave up.

A few days ago, I went to see him. He was tied up because he had savaged the neighbor's dog when that dog had threatened his goats ($300 vets bills). His new owners were getting him fixed to calm him down. He had started creating his own herd, on four occasions bringing them in his mouth unweaned kids, to be bottle-fed.

Last week someone advertised a Great Pyreenes puppy on craigslist. I collected him in a trash can with a wire lid, and locked him up in the barn overnight with food and water. He had hardly ever had human contact, but he uttered not even a growl. Next morning he was gone. Disconsolate, but resigned to goat-dog-failure, I thought I would take a tour of the lake on the quad. Down by the sauna, there were all the goats. And the new puppy, just hanging out. I fed the goats corn near the barn, and he came with them. I tried addressing him personally - no interest at all. He is the exact reverse of Waldo. The guy (Steve) who supplied him gave me this advice: "Treat him just like a cat" - at the most a pat on the head. Don't befriend him. He will hang out with the goats day and night and defend them to the death. I think I will call him Zip. He was the last of a litter of 10, 1/4 Anatolian Shepherd (Karabash), 3/4 Great Pyrenees: father Sampson, mother Annie. When the other pups were being given away, he had escaped. But "Houdini" seemed too long to shout across the valley, and didn't really abbreviate.

Treat him like a cat? Not sure how one should treat a cat. Steely Dan Thoreau, erstwhile feral rescue cat, is the most affectionate creature imaginable. And, as if he were a dog, will come on long walks, jumping through the long grass. Could YB be a place where species meet and exchange characteristics?

Zip is about 6 months old. I am not sure he is a goat-dog, more a dog-goat. He clearly THINKS he's a goat. The problem is feeding him. Any food I put out the goats will eat if they can. I am experimenting with a gap in the barn corral that only he can get in. His food seems to be going. Have the racoons found it? Watch this space.