One morning last spring I let Basil out to do his business and poke around before Joe and I left for work. As I’m making coffee, I see Basil take off running from the hill behind the house as fast as he can down the driveway towards the creek.
I, still in my bathrobe, run out the front door screaming after him trying to figure out what in the world he’s chasing. Then I see a huge, dirty, fluffy dog near the end of the driveway.
Phew, thank goodness it wasn’t a coyote! Basil was leaping all over it, doing his doggy dominance thing…
I immediately thought someone had lost their pet and was desperately look for it. (Silly city girl, how could I be so wrong…) By this time, Joe had come out and was telling me to just leave it alone, get ready for work and hope he goes away, keeping a firm stance that we were not under any circumstances going to keep this dog.
There was no way I was going to do that! I quickly came up with the alternative and suggested we put it in Basil’s kennel until we could find his owner. Joe agreed that was fine. I put a leash on the dog and tried to lead him up to the back of the house to the kennel but he wouldn’t budge! I’ve never seen a dog plant his feet like that. Then we thought, maybe he’ll jump in the truck. What dog doesn’t love jumping in trucks. So we pulled up the truck and he did nothing. We tried forcing him up into the truck and failed miserably. This dog would NOT move! By now, Joe gave up, went to the house to finish getting ready for work, leaving me in my bathrobe with this filthy dog.
I ended up tightening it’s collar (which didn’t have tags), and dragged this poor dog all the way up to the back of the house! Someone should invent the “drag a dog across your driveway, up a hill to a kennel” exercise. I practically needed another shower! I finally got the dog in the kennel, gave him food and water and got ready for work.
Once I got to work, I started posting on craigslist, a local lost dog website and calling the local shelters. I remembered that the dog had an extra dewclaw and tried to figure out what breed that might narrow it down to. I found that Great Pyrenees breeds have that extra claw. Bingo!
Finally my impatience kicked in, I think it was only 10 am, when I decided to call the local vet. I asked the assistant if anyone in town had lost their Great Pyrenees this week. She hadn’t heard of any lost dogs but did know of a family that had this breed a road down from us! She gave me their phone number and I gave them a ring.
A lady answered the phone and I asked her right away if she had Great Pyrenees dogs and if she was missing one. She said, “Yes we have those but I don’t know if we are missing one.”
I was a bit surprised at her reaction and waited for a different response. Finally she asked me some questions about him and then said, “Yup that sounds like Fin, just let him go, he’ll find his way back home.” I explained we weren’t there so she sent her husband to pick him up.
I found out the dog came from a sheep farm and then things made sense. Doing more research on the breed I found that these dogs are used as LGD (Livestock Guardian Dogs). They are raised as puppies with the sheep and join the flock as a protector. No wonder the dog wouldn’t come with me and didn’t seem to know what a leash was!
Then I started thinking…the dog was staying put…I wonder if he was guarding a lost sheep in our woods! Or what if he had followed a fellow LGD out here and he was waiting for him and didn’t want to leave him? Joe assured me the dog probably just wandered off and I was projecting this dramatic Homeward Bound narrative on the situation in my own mind!
So I fretted all day, hurried home as soon as the clock struck 5 and found the dog bowls and water dish in the kennel torn to shreds. Oh gosh, what an idiot I was! This poor dog probably has never been locked up anywhere before. This was an experience that for one, if I listened to my husband, would have worked out for the best and two, an experience that anyone except a suburban girl from Chicago would have been able to process correctly from the get go: it’s a LGD, leave it alone and just go to work.
It worked out in the end. I didn’t have to have the “No, you can’t keep him” lecture more than once and the dog was reunited with his flock of sheep. I’ve certainly learned to think twice about some things out here and not always think like a city girl…