Sadie and the Goats
We have had our dog Sadie since early in 2013. We got her from CAPS - that's Citizens for Animal Protection - a wonderful rescue in Katy, TX. Sadie was 4 or 5 months old when we got her and had been picked up as a stray on the street. They suggested she was a Black Lab/Border Collie cross of some kind. I was hoping she would show off her Border Collie brain as we got to know her. No such luck. She is much more Lab-like. She never met a stranger, always wants to party, has no interest in doing any work and is a real sweetheart.
By the time we had had her for several months, I was already at my wits end. I couldn't get her house trained and she wouldn't come when she was called. She was the first dog I'd ever owned that had those issues. I took her to my friend Nancy Whitbeck for evaluation. Nancy is my goat friend who has since moved to Maine. At that point she lived just 30 minutes away.
Nancy kept Sadie for a couple of days to get to know her. In the end, Nancy said I had it all wrong. Sadie wasn't stupid. In fact, she was very bright and I ought to start interacting with her with that in mind. Well, that changed everything. No, we didn't suddenly connect and have the perfect dog/human relationship. But we did start to get along better. Sadie got house trained in the end and we have continued to have to work on the coming when called thing, which is finally working well also. 8 years later.
When she was small, we had to puppy-proof the fences. Sadie was constantly trying to play with the horses. Or I'd see her curled up in a ball directly underneath one of the horses when it was eating. She didn't get into the pasture with the goats or llamas very often but one time she was chasing the goats and the llamas stepped in and backed her off. They formed a line and walked towards her with their heads down at her eye level. It scared the daylights out of her. And I was astounded by their coordination and focus. Over the years she has gotten better and better with the livestock. Back at the beginning of our relationship, I googled lab puppies and learned that they are usually difficult to manage as puppies but grow into wonderful dogs if you just waited some number of years. Depending on the source, that was 3 or 5 or 8 years. Seriously? How many years was I supposed to wait to get a good dog?
That brings us up to the present. Now, I can let Sadie into the pastures and she doesn't chase any of the animals. She spends her time sniffing out various varmints that have left a scent trail - bunnies, skunks, or whatever. She mostly comes when called otherwise I leave her in the pasture till I get done with my chores. She would rather come out the gate with me than have to wait on me to come back for her. She knows I won't be upset if she digs up random small furry creatures and eats them - gophers, moles, etc. And she barks the goats out of their feeding pen from the other side of the fence.
That's what all this preamble leads me to - barking the goats out of their feeding pen. Over the years the goats have gotten very slow about leaving their feeding pen. The will stroll around when I call them and open the gate to the pastures. They want to go back and sniff at each feed bin even though they know it's empty. They look at me like they have no idea what I want... What do you want me to do? Really? That's so silly. We want to stay here. You get the idea. If I leave them in the feeding pen with the gate open they will dart out into the pasture as soon as I turn my back.
So once, about a month ago, I let Sadie into the feeding pen with the goats. She did her Border Collie best and darted to the back of the goats and ushered them out the gate. She would have happily chased them up the pasture but I called her off and she came right back to me. Good, girl, Sadie!
After ignoring Sadie for most of their entire lives, the goats are now frantic to get out of the feeding pen when they see Sadie on the other side of the fence. She hasn't been in to chase them since that one time but they remember very well and exit quickly. Sadie has been out in the pasture with them since that one encounter but she has been wonderful. She acts like she can't see the goats at all - ignores them completely. It drives them nuts. I think it's a good thing.