When I saw the subject line in my friend Chad’s email: “Gordie,” I knew what to expect, and read on: “Gordie passed away last night…” Gordie was a Great Pyrenees guardian dog who started life at our ranch but reached his full potential with Chad. And he turned nine years old last May. We’ve lost every one of our Great Pyrenees guard dogs at age nine; they just don’t seem able to go any longer.
Gordie came to us as a pup in 2009 to replace Lobo, a dog who had gone seriously astray and started chasing and even killing sheep. Lolo said maybe we should not name our protection dogs for predators (Lobo means “wolf”) and suggested we name this pup “Guardian.” I said OK and we nicknamed him Gordie.
Whereas most of our dogs at the time were completely unsocialized and we couldn’t even catch them, Gordie had lost his mother at an early age and been bottle-raised, so he was very socialized to humans. And in our operation, he had a hard time fitting in. He was a reluctant guardian and wasn’t really sure he wanted to be with the sheep, constantly vying for our attention. At three years old he was still acting like a puppy, having frequent uncontrollable “happy attacks.” I took to calling him “Gordie, you worthless dog,” and in 2013 I finally decided that he deserved a home that was a better fit for him. I put a note on Facebook and I heard immediately from my friend Chad, who has sheep in Montana, and who had met Gordie on a visit to our ranch and really liked him.
“I’ll come to get him next week,” Chad said, and he did! Gordie really blossomed in Montana, and did a fabulous job protecting Chad and his wife Susan’s flock of sheep from coyotes, mountain lions and grizzly bears! He also protected their chickens. And when we went to visit last year, Gordie had matured into a true protection dog, wanting little do with the company of humans.
Chad had discovered that Gordie had only one kidney, and later in life Gordie was on kidney meds, but still lived out his full Great-Pyrenees-length life.
Chad and Susan gave Gordie a great home and a rewarding life. I am grateful for that, and I know how much they will miss him.