Goodbye, Old Friend

guardian dogs May 19, 2015

Although we talk often about the Border Collies of Boywood, there is a dog in the background who makes it all possible. He is the loyal guard of the flock, working 24/7 through harsh winter blizzards and humid, scorching summer days to protect the sheep from coyotes and other predators, yet asks no recompense except food, water, care for any injuries and illnesses, and a flock to look after. They give so much, yet ask so little.

We have been blessed to have had several outstanding livestock guardian dogs (LGD) over the years, primarily the Maremma, a graceful yet powerful beast with thick white fur to insulate him from cold, and to act as his disguise so that he blends unseen into the sea of wool.

Some LGDs are perimeter dogs, running to the edges of the field or to the fence to ward off danger before it approaches, and others are flock dogs, who stay with the sheep as their protector, not to be tricked or lured away by the wiley coyotes.

Henry has been our flock dog...

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Oscar - The founding king of our LGD

The hard part about these trips is you are leaving so much behind at home and only through the kindness of good friends can it be done. Just before we left, our old livestock guardian dog, Oscar, seemed to be developing a mild cough, but I had a bad feeling about it, as he had been on and off a bit for the last year. He was 12, a ripe old age for a dog with a lifestyle that generally allows for a life expectancy of around 8 years.

Oscar had been going down fast while we were away, and despite good friends who are vet techs, giving prednisone and other care to try to help him make it until we got home, a couple of days ago it was time to say goodbye. I haven't wanted to write until today, as I was having trouble wrapping my head around it. We have not had good luck with livestock guardian dogs (LGD) on these UK trips, losing our other 8 year old last year around the same time.

Oscar was one of those dogs who could look terrifying when necessary, almost 100 pound of solid muscle, and...

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