Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Stray dogs

The phone woke me early this morning. It was my neighbor T. calling to tell me that both of my livestock guardian dogs were outside the pasture fighting with two stray dogs. I quickly threw on some jeans and boots and headed out the door. My arrival was change enough that my dogs stopped fighting and I got them safely back into the pasture. I couldn't see any obvious wounds on my dogs... one of the strays was not so lucky and he had blood on his neck, leg and inside his mouth. The larger of the strays (the bloody one) was a yellow lab (cross?) and the other was smaller, brown and medium haired. I could see that the lab had an invisible fence collar on and had in ID tag hanging off it. The little brown dog had no collar at all.

T. was out behind her house so I went over to find out what she had seen. I guess the strays were trying to get into the pasture which was aggravating my two (that's their job... good dogs!). T. said she went in to get the phone and when she came back my LGDs were out of the pasture fighting. I had no doubts that Emmie can get out but I was unsure how Berk had gotten out as well. T. was worried about her dog that is on a run behind her house as neither of the strays had left the farm. They were in fact running all over marking everything! T. and I tried everything to catch them... dog food, treats, offering a ride in the car... nothing would bring them closer to us. Then the lab came over to T's. dog and T. managed to get her hand around his collar. Unfortunately, that act started a fight between the dogs which had to be broken up with a stick.

Neither stray seemed to have any interest in returning home and even moving on to some other property. By now an hour had gone by and we still couldn't catch them. The lab and I had moved back over to the area between our house and barn. I had totally forgotten about how my LGDs had gotten out in the first place... which turned out to be a good thing since Emmie came running out from behind the barn again and grabbed the lab over the haunches and laid him down on the ground. I knew this was my only shot to get hold of him. While Emmie still had him pinned to the ground I reached in and snapped the lead to his collar. I pulled him the few feet to the deck and quickly tied him up. Then I grabbed Emmie and pulled her off of him and took her back to the barn. Then I went behind the barn to see where Emmie had gotten out this time.

Emmie watches out across the cow pasture - photo taken last week

It seems I finally curtailed her normal route of escape yesterday. This time she actually opened the 16 foot gate enough for her and Berk to get out. This is quite a feat as the gate is a heavy corrugated steel one and all the weight is resting on a cinder block angled out. So, for one of us to open it we need to lift it up several inches to clear the block before it will swing in to open. She must have been very determined to get out to get those dogs! The gate is now additionally held tight by a chain.

Back up at the house I got the owner's phone number off the lab's collar and left a message that he was here, that he had been in a fight but he was now secure and waiting to be picked up. About an hour later the owner returned my call and said that they would not be able to come get him until the afternoon. I asked her if the brown dog was hers and she said no it wasn't. Darn, as the brown dog was still pacing the fence, barking and just generally making a pest of itself.

Later this afternoon, the owner's arrived to pick up the lab. I showed them were I had found a few minor puncture wounds on his neck and leg and recommended they be clipped and scrubbed clean. At the same time the gentleman, R., that purchased some hens and roosters last week arrived to get some cross bred duck eggs he was going to incubate. After the lab left R. told me that someone had pulled over up on the road and picked up the brown dog as well. I am glad he saw that because I had missed it.

Anyway, R. took about 25 duck eggs that are a possible cross between our Muscovy hens and the Peking drake that we got as a free duckling at Southern States last Spring. The drake is now gone but I have been pulling the eggs until I am more sure that they will be pure with our Muscovy drakes. Since I am not interested in having mule ducks hatch out I had been feeding the eggs to the dogs on their food in the mornings but R. asked if he could have some to hatch out instead. I was happy to oblige.

About 45 minutes after brown dog was picked up he showed back up here at the farm! This time he stayed for about 10 minutes and then headed back up the road again... presumably home.

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