A couple days ago I went out to the barn to do chores and the herd was out on the pasture. The barn is always open and they can come and go between the barn and pasture and usually when the weather is nice they are only in the barn to eat and sleep. So when they saw that I was doing chores they slowly trickled in. Holly was first, of course, and Monte was second, of course. Neither of them is likely to miss a meal. Sneaky was next and while I was still throwing hay down and filling their water Gemma, Belle and finally Cache-Cache wandered in. I started my little verse and realized that the babies were not with their mother. Now, these babies are a year old but they still stick pretty close to mom. I headed out the door to see if they were coming and Elke, the youngest of our three dogs and still pretty much a puppy, took off for the gate that leads to the pasture. She shimmied through the gate, quite a feat for a 70 or 80 pound dog. She ran barking onto the pasture and collected the babies who were at the far edge of the pasture and herded the missing babies up to the barn. The babies were pretty surprised and they hustled right along. They are never herded. The dogs are rarely inside the pasture. They will follow me in, but for the most part they stay outside the fence. The dogs sleep in the barn as well, if they want, but there is a wire enclosure that separates them from the herd. They know each other but have their own space.
Elke is a Great Pyrenees. Our other dogs, Sadie and Codie are each half Pyrenees. The breed is a natural livestock guardian dog and they instinctively keep our herd safe. Elke is very watchful and learns from Sadie and Codie but herding the baby goats was something that she did all on her own. I see her maturing into her role as protector. The day after the herding episode while I was working a bit in the big garden she found and caught a rodent that was in the weeds. Later that day she chased up some large birds, probably ducks or geese that were in the ditch across the road and followed them halfway across the field to make sure that they stayed away. It is a joy to watch them working and they love it. I will hear one bark at some real or imagined danger and then immediately all three will be barking and they will have fanned out in different directions, spread out but working as a team.
. Sharing at BNOTP here.