Omega, Meg for short, is our OFA Good female who came to us at 1 ½ years. She had lived most of her life in a pen with several other dogs. She was very timid and would not let us touch her. She was excited when we would come home and most of the time she was happy enough, but she did not trust us enough to let us pet her.
At first we tried to let her have her freedom, but she would roam and get into trouble. When we had had her three months, we got puppy Shooter, 10 weeks. We kept her kenneled so much of the time because she taught him bad habits. She just would not mind us—she didn’t trust us and would not see us as the boss. She would also terrorize the cats and not let anything near the food bowl. Food was a big issue for her after being the “omega” in a pen full of dogs for most of her life—not that she was undernourished.
Dan agonized about keeping her penned. We are both big on quality of life and he was afraid that her life was meaningless in there. I kept pointing out how much she actually liked it in there—it made her feel safe.
The following winter she had pups. It was an “oops” litter that happened while we were on vacation and my brother-in-law was in charge. Shooter was barely 7 months old at the time, so we weren’t real concerned about it yet. Ha ha. She would not leave the pups for the first week and we wanted to get near them, so she had to tolerate us. We took her goodies when we went in—eggs and milk and other good stuff. Slowly we started petting her and by the time the pups were grown, she would seek us out for attention. After the pups were sold, we started letting her out of her kennel more and had fewer misbehaviors. However, we would put her back in the kennel with a gentle reprimand if she proved that we could not trust her. She started respecting us.
One morning Dan found an opossum dead outside the chicken coupe—they will eat chickens in the winter—I think Meg had everything to do with that. I think Shooter would have just barked at it. She also seems to be a better guardian than Shooter. She keeps an eye on the kids better and is more concerned about strangers driving up.
She is now free to roam all day long. We put her in at night because it would be just too tempting for the two of them to chase coyotes at night or some other such nightly dog mischief. Every day we are becoming more and more pleased with her. She almost never breaks the rules and she is now trying to help with the animals some.
We have two calves on their mom in the pasture right next to the house--we very rarely have babies around but this is my husband's hobby beef cow (the rest are holstein).
Three nights ago Shooter was barking up a storm outside. I turned the fans off to listen and could hear coyotes around and very close in several directions. I could see Shooter pacing in the barnyard, hackles raised. We keep Meg in the house at night. She was barking, also.
Since then, when we have returned home from somewhere we find Meg just sitting in the pasture near the babies. I wonder if she's not standing guard? Just to think four months ago she would have been "moving" them around mercilessly...Erin
Big milestone lately for Meg. Yesterday she finally got up the nerve to follow Dan and Shooter out to the pasture.
Shooter has gotten to the point in his herding ability that Dan doesn't have to raise his voice at him--I think this is why Meg finally followed. Before, Dan would raise his voice at Shooter and Meg would bolt for the house.
He said she just stayed by Dan acting all excited the whole time yesterday. Shooter would do something and she would look to see Dan's reaction to it. She was trying to figure out what Dan wanted Shooter to do (or not do).
Today Dan and Shooter were in the pasture by the house. She was acting like she wanted to go and trying to get up enough nerve. Someone drove up then and she was torn by whether she should go bark the alarm that someone was here or if she should go help Shooter and Dan. She barked and then came and told me the car was here. Then she went to the pasture.
Dan said she stayed close to him again and he was thinking that she's not doing much...they a heifer turned out of the herd and ran the wrong way. Meg quickly put her back where she belonged.
A little while later they came back and she told me what a good dog she was!
What a change in Meg since my last update! Wow, I forgot she was ever like that.
Meg proved herself very useful this winter. The heifers in the barn all winter create a manure management issue. We have a free stall heifer barn with two alleys. Every day we have to go in and scrape the alleys with a skid steer. In order to do this, we push all the heifers to one alley and scrape. Then push them back to the clean alley and do the other alley. Meg made it her job to get those heifers moved back and forth. When the skid steer started, she made a mad dash for the barn! Our employee loves her because she's all business and gets them moved quickly. He says, "She never has to nip a cow twice." We don't mind her working this way with the young stock. She would be a little too rough for the milk cows, however.
Meg works like a stealth bomber. She works silently and the cow never sees her coming. She moves in with a quick nips and darts right back out and she's on to the next cow. She loves her work and it has made her confidence soar.
She is a wonderful watch dog. I always know *who* is here by Meg's bark. She has certain people she likes best and they get a warm welcome. If she doesn't know the visitor, she will bark but not act in any menacing fashion. She always comes to me for a pat on the head after announcing their arrival.
She is a better dog than I ever imagined she'd be.