Friday, November 21, 2008
The Sneak Attack
Bella, my Maremma, turned one year old on November 19. The Maremma is a breed that originated in Italy and has been bred for centuries to protect livestock from predators. When I purchased Bella the intent was to keep the cougar and coyotes out of the yard and away from the sheep. When she was five months old, she chased two coyotes out of the corral, through the field, until they turned on her and began to beat her up. She didn't quit and run back. My dad, hearing her cry, ran out with his gun. Only when he called her in did she back off and return to the barnyard.
Bella was bonding fabulously until the I purchased the sheep from hell (Sheep Escapades). These sheep ran away from her and beat her up when she went out to be with her. Needless to say these sheep didn't last long. Hopefully residing in someone's freezer now. My new sheep are used to being with a guardian dog and tolerate her, just as she tolerates them. Bella was doing a fantastic job hanging out in the field and with the sheep. When to my dismay she went into heat.
I was not interested in having "ooops" puppies. This meant Bella went into jail, only to be released when supervised. Poor confused Bella now thinks the yard is what she should be protecting. So I've begun the sneak attack regime.
Bella is terrified of my old lunge whip with a plastic bag on the end used for sacking out colts. When I catch her near the house, I run out and madly shake the whip, shouting "Get back to your sheep!" Bella always takes off as though someone goosed her. Bella is a very intelligent dog. She's figured out when my car pulls into the drive to take off, or when the door opens to take off. So I've begun setting my watch for half hour intervals. Every half hour I sneak out of the house, grab the whip and go looking for her. If she's in the field I sneak back to the house. But if she's somewhere the sheep aren't I jump out at her and shake the whip at her. This strategy is strangely effective.
I'm sure people driving by think I'm slightly nutty. Whatever works...