Oakley and Oliver were impressive from the moment they arrived. They are still puppies, of course, and play with each other, but they haven’t tried to play with the sheep at all. We began by enclosing them in a small end of one of our pastures, with two ewes. The space was tight enough that the ewes would not be able to run away from the dogs, which might induce the dogs to chase. We picked Una and Ingot, two older East Friesian ewes. Within a day they were totally chill and at ease with the dogs. Once those four were comfortable together and the dogs were settled in, the next step was to introduce the rest of the “flock” to the dogs. We don’t put young dogs with lambs, so the dogs’ first “flock” was to be our 11 ewes who don’t have lambs this season. We introduced them in two installments, still in that small space, and then when everyone seemed comfortable, we opened up the fence and let them have the whole pasture.
The new dogs have been with us for five weeks now and are bonded to their ewes, and the ewes to them. It looks like they are going to be great dogs, following in the footsteps of the legendary Big Otis, Oso, Shep and Orbit. Those are big paw prints to fill!
We have moved them to a new pasture with their flock, and they did all the right things, checked the perimeter, and stayed with the sheep as the sheep moved around the new area, following respectfully and attentively, but never chasing. One of the young ewes got her head stuck in the fence for a few minutes the other day and we watched Oakley sit protectively with her, until she got herself out. We never cease to be amazed at the breeding of the good protection dogs, the complex behaviors that are completely bred into them not requiring any training by humans. WE LOVE OUR DOGS! (Thank you to Melinda for most of the photos here! And in many of my other posts also!)