I have been quite lax in introducing Orko, our first livestock guardian dog. He is a Great Pyrenees who came to live with us in August, and celebrated his first birthday on November 2. We adopted him from a family whose schedule required that they find him a new home. He had been a house dog with them, but he was born to working parents and exposed to goats as a puppy. He has adjusted remarkably well to life at Double Forte Farm, and we think he is shaping up to be a wonderful working livestock guardian, though he still has a lot to learn.
He came to us with the name “Chico.” We felt that Orko – the ancient Basque god of thunder – was a more fitting name, given his ancestry and his big, deep bark. He started out penned away from (but within view of) the stock, so that we could manage his introduction to them. Then he progressed to being out with the horses during the day and in a pen at night. Now he stays out in the pasture with the horses 24/7, with controlled/supervised access to the goats and chickens for training purposes. At 14 months old, he’s entering the “teenage” phase, and we’re hoping that his behavior remains as excellent as it has been so far!
For two years, I researched LGDs (livestock guardian dogs) before we started seriously looking. I think we were as prepared as possible, but of course actually having an LGD is a very different thing than reading about them! We were not at all prepared for how smitten we would be with this dog, and with this breed. Even with everything we learned and expected, we are continually amazed at how different Orko is from any other dog we’ve had. He is everything I thought he would be, but experiencing him firsthand has been quite remarkable. Though he is friendly and loves people, he is independent and thinks for himself. He’s very smart. He patrols the fenceline, and we hear him barking at night to ward off predators. We’re so thrilled that he is part of the Double Forte Farm family!
For those interested in LGDs, the “Learning About LGDs” group on Facebook is a great resource. I highly recommend joining the group to learn about these fabulous dogs.
Enjoy the big fluffy white dog photos!