Can you see that creature sitting up there in the snow? (click to enlarge) Yesterday as I was trudging to the barn for evening feeding, I heard Holly barking, barking, barking. She was barking an alarm bark, not just a warning bark and bouncing up and down with each bark. It took me a while to see this guy sitting out there watching the sheep. The whole scene was at once alarming and reassuring. Alarming because coyotes are usually out and about after dark and rarely do they come within sight of the house and barn. It was reassuring because Holly was doing exactly what she should. She hadn't abandon her sheep to chase the coyote. She had rounded up the ewe lambs and put them in the corner of the field nearest the big barn. Once she had them in the safest available spot, she placed herself between the lambs and the coyote and continued barking and moving slowing toward it. The coyote loped off toward the back of the farm. Holly has been on high alert since this happened, constantly patrolling and giving her warning bark.
There seems to be a larger than usual coyote population right now. A few nights ago, as I was walking from the barn to the house, I heard a big pack howling and yipping from the back of the farm, only to be answered by another large pack down in the creek below our house. Talk about raising the hair on the back of your neck....that'll do it! We don't hunt or trap them, but I wouldn't rule out the possibility, if one were to attack Holly or kill one of the sheep. We try to coexist. We won't bother them, if they don't bother us or the livestock.
When Holly first arrived here, we figured she had been born around Christmas time. She has matured into one of the best livestock guardian dogs I have ever owned. I'm thinking she may need some kind of combination birthday present/reward in the near future. Good girl, Holly!
What an amazing dog! Holly deserves the best of treats! All I know about guardian dogs (farm types) is that I'm sure she feels justified just by protecting "her" sheep!ReplyDelete
Nancy in Iowa
It is amazing to me to witness animal instinct in action. That Holly could round up her charges into the safest place, keep them protected and scare of the predator is impressive! And if we really stop and listen, our dogs do have different bark languages. Do you take Holly with you when you make your rounds after dark? Sounds like you may need protecting, too. Even here in my neighborhood we've had coyotes. I feel bad for them, knowing that we have pushed them out of their natural habitat and into the suburbs.ReplyDelete
My daughter has a Great Pyrenees who watches her goats and keeps them safe from coyotes and other critters. It is amazing to watch the instincts at work. They are ever faithful to their duties and as gentle as can be with the children. We have coyotes that we coexist with in the suburbs as well. Small animals always end up on "missing" posters. Maybe people will learn to protect their pets too. MaryReplyDelete
What a beautiful dog Holly is, thank you for sharing the pictrues. It is so wonderful that she protects her sheep.ReplyDelete
Oh, she is the Heroine Extraordinaire, that's for sure. What a super girl she is.ReplyDelete
Good girl!!! Can't believe you got a picture of the coyote. Yikes!ReplyDelete
Neat to see the coyote picture, though I'm sure you'd rather it wasn't that close! Our four guardian dogs deserve medals for protecting our alpacas and sheep day in and day out in all weather (they're actually enjoying the single digits we're having!)ReplyDelete
Good thing she didn't leave her charges. We had friends with two guard dogs that were killed along with many sheep when a pack of coyotes attacked. I guess this time of year they are so hungry that they will become bolder.ReplyDelete
We have the hybrid coywolf here in Ontario.
Good work Holly! I do have to say the coyote photo is amazing though!ReplyDelete
If you appreciate herding dogs, you will love the novel "Rose in s Storm" by Jon Katz. It's a real page-turner and tells the story from the dog's point of view.ReplyDelete