Wednesday, July 1, 2009

One Less Chicken

Ah, so it finally happened. Rosie took out a chicken yesterday! She has been known to chew some feathers off backs of some of them, but it was never fatal. I had been watching her and spending a lot of time outside with animals, but then came in to work on the blog. And an hour later, I went out to check and sure enough, one of the hens was dead. So even tho Rosie is working out well with the sheep, she was not the dog to leave with chickens also. This brought a dilemma as to where to put I made the choice to move Rosie out to a smaller front pasture with the rams and wethers. She's been living with them so that's not an issue, at least so far. And then move my ewes and lambs back into the larger pasture out back. And I decided to move Gracie (6 year old Tatra) back with them. I had moved her into that pasture previously but she didn't react well. Was very nervous. Yet that was a few years ago. She just seemed so much more relaxed when she lived out front, regardless of what sheep were there with her. This time I have 3 month old lambs with their moms. But I took a chance and put her back with the ewes and chickens. The only problem was the other dogs in the adjacent yard barking at her because they really don't see her up close. She's always been out front. Now she is just across a fence. But they calmed down well enough throughout the afternoon. And for her part, Gracie was just the calmest girl. She was calm with the sheep, she was calm with the chickens and she even was calm with the one cat. The other cats kept their distance.
A little history: Gracie was imported from Poland, but has some eye issues and one bad hip. She lived in the house as a pet for the first 2 years of her life. But after I put Quincy outside, I decided she might also belong outside. Yet she would run up and down the fence line, barking all day long at the sheep on the other side. It was relentless and drove me crazy. Finally, after about a year of this (yes, a year!) I decided to move her by some sheep and just see what happened. Well, nothing could have surprised me more, she was fine with them. Maybe all along she had wanted to be with them vs. across the fence barrier. Duh!
Grace is inside the igloo with chickens near. Sheep are in the pasture off to the back right.Gracie asleep in the igloo.....what a good girl!
So the dog that I thought would be nothing but trouble has turned into a very decent girl and watchdog. We have coyotes here more than we ever thought possible (although not every night) and she's done her job well over time in never having one challenge her or the fence line. She's very relaxed and often does not even bark at people driving up. In fact, often she does not even wake up for it during the day. Just goes to show you that you never know what a dog will turn out to be if not given the chance. I am even hopeful that with her calm personality, she might be an example for one of these puppies as they get older and get placed with sheep. Good old Gracie Girl!!
Rosie out front now...she would not sit still nor go by the sheep as I wanted a nice photo!

So Rosie is not a chicken dog! That's ok. She's still doing a fine job with the sheep and not all dogs can be trusted with all livestock. Besides, she's still young and has that teenage streak in her. Maybe in another year.......we shall see!


  1. Can Rosie be taught that it's not OK to chew on a chicken? I remember reading in a book ~ MANY years ago ~ that said you should tape whatever a dog had incorrectly chewed into their mouth and make them carry it around for hours, or more likely, DAYS! The theory being they would never want anything like that in their mouth again.

    It sounded pretty disgusting to me but I wonder if it actually works...?

    On the other hand, not every shepherd has chickens so I guess as long as she guards her SHEEP, that's the main thing!

  2. Yeah, she's a sheepdog, not a chickendog. :)