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  • Catherine Wedemeier

Weight in Gold

They work and devote 365 to 366 days a year to the farm, never complain, never appear to have sick days, always willing to help when needed and will put their life on the line for you….they put us all to shame. Yep, it is old “Shep,” the livestock farm dog. If you have ever had a good one you will always long to have another-protector, helper, and companion. They have been bred for generations to do specific jobs on a farm (herder moving or bringing livestock, to the guardian whom will take on any threat.) They are like the Marine of the dog world…Of course this boldness and bravado comes with a price. Unlike their cousins living in our homes and backyards who perceive everything and everyone as a friend, our livestock farm dogs like slow, cordial, introductions. The best way to be accepted by a farm dog is to stay quiet during the introduction and exchange scent with one of their family by rubbing forearms and hands. This allows the first thing that touches the dog to smell familiar. Friend of a friend…you’re cool with me, but I’ll still keep a sharp eye!

These dogs will do so many things on a farm (quick…Take big breath): guard gates, find strays, protect mothers having babies on pasture and eat any leftovers (placenta, blood, still-born), move livestock calmly from one place to another, sort sick animals, assist in helping animals up, changing a 1400 cow’s mind from will not too can do, runoff coyotes, raccoons, opossums, mice, mean tom cats, the neighbors’ cow chasing dog(livestock broken legs are hard to understand), grab a 1600 pound bull by his nose and proceed to chase him to the corner of the lot because I needed help when no one else could, sleep on the house porch in 20 below temps because they choose to, guard and play with the kids as if they were defenseless lambs (yeah, even I am not supposed to chase the kids or he/she will bite my pants) and guardian protector of the garden. I know that there are many, many, more…I think you get the idea.  

So, the next time you meet a livestock farm dog, remember the following: Get a proper introduction, Do not be aggressive to their family (no chase games), Give them their space (they don’t like to be crowded), Do not approach them if their family is not around. If there is ever a dog you need to respect….it’s a farm dog. They are John Wayne tough and Mother Theresa loving, trying to figure out who is friend or foe. PS-Never ever kiss a farm dog…they enjoy delicacies that no one else can appreciate.

~Farmer Scott