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Livestock Guardian Dog – handing over the torch

Livestock Guardian Dog – handing over the torch

IMG_3715I imported Rico, my Estrela Mountain Dog, many years ago. He was trained up by my rescue Akbash, Glory. She was hard, but fair with him. Rico has been the alpha dog in my pastures for a very long time now, and I have not lost any of my goats or chickens or piglets, thanks to him and his guarding abilities. He has been outstanding in every aspect.


I have always joked that Rico and Glory never let any bad deed go ‘unrolled’. They have both been very big on alpha rolling an errant dog. They both made my life so much easier, because after initial introduction periods, they took over the training of new rescue dogs that have come through here.


Rico has been slowing down, and I knew that the time was close that he would lose his alpha status in the pack. As I watched the other day, I saw him playing with Mishka, a rehomed Central Asian Shepherd dog. During the play, he rolled over and showed her his belly. It hit me like a ton of bricks. In all these years, he has only showed his belly to me. I watched as the two romped a little more, and he then showed her his belly again.


I knew he was handing over the torch to her. I thought about the times I had watched them with field glasses. These two, sitting on the high point in the pasture, and he would touch her nose with his, and she would rise up and walk out among the goats, sniffing, checking and slowly moving through the herd before returning to his side. Many times I saw little incidents like this and I suspected that he was grooming her.

I knew for sure when I saw him expose his belly to her the other day. I was glad that it was an easy transition, and that his throne was not taken from him, rather given by him.


IMG_3810These last few days, Mishka has been the lead in every thing going on in the pasture. She is the first to the fence when a stray dog comes along, she is the first to check the goats in the mornings, and Rico seems content to back her up.

My heart still breaks, because I know after about 15 years, my old boy’s days are numbered. Man I love this dog. He taught me so much.

I am Robyn Poyner, of, and I am looking forward to blogging for you about livestock guardian dogs from around the world and my experiences with them!

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