Farm Dog Stories: Patriots vs Chiefs

There were fifty-four seconds left to go in the Patriots-Chiefs January 20 playoff game.

Pete had gone up to bed and for some reason, I was still watching. I am not a Patriots fan, but I had shouted up to him to get down to see this exciting finish.

Time out.

I glanced at the kitchen door where Ochi, our Great Pyrenees, had her nose pressed to the glass wanting to be let inside.

Except….Ochi, 12 years of age and happy to lie by the wood stove, was at my feet. The waggling, enthusiastic body at the door belonged to another Great Pyrenees. Ida Louise, our livestock guardian. Most recently, however, she has been known to take periodic roaming vacations from her job as farm watch dog.

Needless to say, Pete came down, not to watch the game, but rather, to hook Ida to the leash and return her to her sheep and goat companions. She looked a little down at the mouth. She is still a “pup” in her interpretation of that word, just one year old, and that should allow for disobeying rules sometimes.

Still, she knows her job. She must constantly pay attention to her surroundings. She must be ready to bark the instant something disturbs her. At night, if I switch on the outside light and call one of the cats, she barks. At daybreak the crows fly overhead, and she is alert to their direction and location and follows them across the 13 acre field. The great horned owls who are regular residents here know she protects the broilers from their talons all summer. I am sure the coyotes and foxes are aware of her presence.

Ida in her favorite form of repose.

But some evenings, things just get plain boring. You can only roll around in the hay and toss your bone in the air for so long before the desire to see who is awake inside the house overcomes you. She is insanely clever. Jake’s frequent exclamation is, ‘How in the world did she get out?’

Ida is not locked in a small pen. She is in the paddocks where she can move from the sheep to the goat areas. Some days she is out with the 21 cows. Sometimes, she is going on a walk with Abby to North Ridge, Abby and Jake’s nearby farm where the layer hens live.  Or she walks with Pete to make a loop around the 13 acre field. But, her job, and we point that out to her daily, is to be on guard. That means, she can’t come in the house like Ochi. With this snowy winter, however, there are mounds of plowed snow which make it a cinch for a powerful dog to summit, thus scaling the fences, bound for the other side and freedom.

So, back to the paddock Ida went that wintry January evening and settled down to watch the night sky.

By the way, Pete did get to see the end of the Patriots’ game. He hoofed it back to the living room before the whistle blew and settled down to watch football.

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