Tag Archive | Sierra

A Great Great Pyrenees

We lost a great dog last week, our Great Pyrenees Sierra.  We got her when she was about 8 weeks old shortly after moving to the farm.  I had never even seen a Great Pyrenees prior to searching for one.  All I knew about them was from pictures and reading.  Even after all my years of working in Veterinary Medicine and in clinics I had never met a Great Pyrenees.  Yet that is what I set out to find in the summer of 2001.

See as soon as we were moved in here the children were begging for animals for the farm.  What good is a large barn without animals?  So within a month of getting settled in we headed to a local sale barn to see about getting a goat.  We couldn’t afford much nor could it be big due to the fact we had to transport it in a pet carrier.   😀   That was a big field trip for the kids and I.  We decided on a little female goat that was probably around 4 months old at the most.  Then I must bid for the goat at the auction.  That is interesting!  The kids were strictly told to sit on their hands – no bidding against moma or raising the bid needlessly.  We got the goat for 25 dollars!  I think the men took pity on me being the one female there with four young children in tow.  As I stood in line to pay an older gentleman informed me that I got his goat he brought in and she was part “Fainting Goat.”  That was a good thing to know when she fell out in the barn yard the next morning!  So after reading everything I could about Fainting Goats I knew we needed a Guardian Dog.   Great Pyrenees were the breed I decided upon.  The kids, of course, were thrilled about getting a dog too.

We found a huge female eight week old puppy not too far from us and thus began our farming with Fainting Goats and Great Pyrenees Guardian Dogs.  (Her puppy pictures must be before the digital camera age.)  I read lots about the breed and training them for being a guardian.  Thankfully I’ve had dogs and had trained a German Shepherd into higher levels of obedience before.  Contrary to some advice, I did not leave the dog with the goats (we added more soon) and limit handling the dog.  My children were more important than the goats and my goal was to train the dog to be good with people and still protect the goats.   No guardian dog here was going to be allowed to be aggressive to humans, children or even other pet dogs.  We took that dog around with us everywhere as a puppy.  Parks, shopping centers, hiking, anywhere we could for good socialization.  But between times she was with the goats and chickens and learning how to treat them.  It worked out well.  She turned into an excellent guardian and yet was still trust worthy with visitors even small children.   We’ve only had one young goat disappear here and that was when Sierra was a puppy and not in the pasture full time.

Great Pyrenees have been my favorite breed so far but honestly they aren’t right for everybody.  First of all they are BIG.  They have house shaking barks.  (Better than a yippy bark to me) They bark alot.  They shed profusely.  We joke that we could make another couple of dogs just from the shed hair.  They bark alot.  They hate being inside a house or confined at night.  They want to roam the property and guard all night.  They sleep all day.  They don’t obey well, they are smarter than their owners and know it, at least that is what they think.  They bark alot.  They come when called unless something more important comes along.  They bark alot.

Some stories about Sierra from my files (I’ll add to this over time):

That puppy! We came home from errands and found her playing around with a dead chicken. After all this time she kills a chicken while I’m not around to intervene! She was getting so good though. I fussed and yelled at that dog, told her she was a bad, bad dog …. Then we go up to the barn to see what else she has done. In a closed stall we find blood and an almost dead chicken? A closed stall? How did she do that? Oh, no. Roosters! Turns out both were roosters and they had obviously been fighting. I guess the dead rooster must have left the stall and later died. Sierra had an already dead chicken. Later we learn that guardian dogs will often clean up dead animals in order to not attract more predictors. Normally though Sierra over the years would place a dead animal at a particular spot in the front barnyard. Everything from dead possums, to miscarried baby goats, to large rodents would be placed here for us to see.  I guess she learned not to clean them up any more. 😉

~~~~~~~~~~~~~

We were still working on training Sierra as a young but huge puppy. She barked alot especially at night. I’m a light sleeper so her barking bothered me more than others. One night she was barking so much that I tied her up on the far side of the house.  Maybe then I would get a good night’s sleep.  But the next morning Jupiter, the duck, was gone from the pond.  Our last duck. 🙁  Appears a coyote got the duck and just left a few feathers while I had the dog tied up.  I guess her barking does serve a purpose.  Now my oldest will never forget moma tied the dog and he lost his duck.  I’ve learned.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~

~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Sierra is spending lots of time on the back porch with her first litter of puppies.  I happened to look outside towards the barn when I saw a large shadow cross the window.  A huge hawk swooped down to get a chicken.  I throw open the window and yell but there isn’t much else I can do.  Sierra hears the commotion and goes running toward the barn.  She is dribbling nursing puppies everywhere as she runs toward the barn. She is barking furiously trying to make her way toward the hawk with a grown chicken in its talons.  Thankfully the hawk was having trouble gaining altitude with a grown struggling chicken, me yelling at it, and Sierra barking and chasing it down.  About 20 feet up the hawk released the chicken and it fell to the ground with a sick thud.  Didn’t the hawk realize 20 feet up there wasn’t much we could do to stop it?  I didn’t think the chicken would survive.  It was still on the ground with little specks of blood on it’s beak and ear.  But alive!  We placed it in a darkened cage to watch it.  It survived and lived for several more years.  Its name was changed from Speckles to Hawky from that time on.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~

~~~~~~~~~~~~~

The 8 year old said he saw Sierra with a yellow duck running to the pond and eating it.  Upon intensive questioning he said it was a big yellow duck with yellow feet and it had happened over an hour ago.  I was so mad – at him for waiting around about telling me, now it was dark, and Sierra for supposedly killing a duck.  But we don’t have any more ducks!?! (see above as to why) She had always been so good with our fowl and had only carried around ones that she found dead.  The next day I sent him to the pasture to look for any evidence.  I walked to the fence to watch him and between the barn and house where Sierra waits for treats I saw something strange.  When I got to it, I found a dead tiny brown baby goat.  It was all cleaned up but very small.   Sierra had brought it to the spot where she places thing for us to take care of.  Turns out the yellow duck was a very premature baby goat!  Upon further questioning he admitted that Sierra had carried the “Yellow Duck” into the middle of the goats (where she thought it belonged).  Her “eating it” must have been her cleaning the baby.  I am so glad I didn’t punish Sierra.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~

One night Sierra was barking her bark. The “there is something to check out, won’t you people come see, I’m doing my job here” bark. I send the oldest with a flashlight to see what it is we must deal with. Turns out Sierra is barking over the pasture fence into the neighbor’s field at a huge oak tree. There is a large possum up in that tree with teeth showing and growling. That possum wasn’t on our property and she couldn’t get to it. We aren’t much for shooting animals unless there is a serious problem so we left the possum. It took a few commands to get Sierra to leave it and she wasn’t happy about it. She was miffed that we didn’t do our part. The next morning I went up to the barn and guess what? There in her “present” spot was the largest possum I’ve ever seen. How that dog convinced a possum to climb down from its perch, come back over a fence and come to her is beyond me. We joke that Sierra climbed the fence, climbed the tree and brought that possum back because we didn’t take care of it. That dog hated possums and I don’t blame her. I’ve been bitten by the petting zoo possum before when I worked there. They are mean.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~


~~~~~~~~~~~~~

We lost Sierra at 10 years old to bone cancer. She developed a knot on her head back last Fall which was treated but never went away. It wasn’t until January that we received the diagnosis of Skull cancer. We were able to have a few more months with her never seeming to have problems beyond a large swelling on her head and inability to use her left eye.  But last week she took a turn for the worse.  🙁


Share