A tale of two puppies

Little Reina is already following her grandmother Bridger. She is different from Allanon, her half-brother, day and night. (Courtesy Farei Kennels)

I often see people buy a puppy for a guard dog and go back around the third month of ownership and buy another because the first is doing so well.

If you haven’t been fortunate enough to grow up with siblings, I can assure you that logic doesn’t hold up. Unless you’re talking about cupcakes, the chances that the second will be the same as the first are slim. I kept two puppies this year. Not only do I replace dogs that are getting older, I also like to have a base for what I produce. The mothers are half sisters and I used the same stallion on both of them.

One puppy, two puppies

Allanon is the epitome of a simple puppy. When I refer to a puppy as light or heavy, I am not referring to animal safety or protective instincts. These should be inherent. I’m talking about good citizenship skills. I teach basic obedience here and expect my dogs to behave in all situations.

Allanon’s energy level is the lowest of the lowest, even for a livestock puppy – and he performs simple obedience simply because I asked. The few times he stepped out of line, it only took a verbal correction to straighten him out. He doesn’t question the rules or why I’m asking him to do these things. Allanon accepts everything as it is. It doesn’t matter whether you’re walking slowly on a leash or being moved from bay to bay or even coming into the house.

Reina is a completely different story. Like my bitches before her, she is smart and has opinions even at her tender age. She has a tendency to question the rules and speak out loud when she doesn’t understand things or get frustrated when she isn’t going in her direction. Reina is also a problem solver. I sat there the other day and watched her on the leash while I worked on the gate. It caught on a small root, which made it several meters shorter. Her first reaction was to end up pulling and trying both ways to see if that helped. Still stuck. She tried to bite and lift the chain to no avail, but in doing so noticed the root and set out to examine it.

When she found this to be the source of the problem, she began biting and digging until she broke it off. With a lot of excitement and dancing, she moved to the end of her strength to watch me work on the gate.

Double the trouble

People often get the impression that having two puppies means they can play with each other and avoid trouble. I assure you, just like with children, the best mannered puppy can get in trouble if he has a co-conspirator.

I keep my two puppies separate most of the time and work with related adults in different fields. Allanon is already free in the sheepfold, with his mother and aunt and various chickens who collect beetles for us. Reina is on the farm with her grandmother and aunt and most of our herd. I will soon introduce her to the goat pen to see how she does in it. They have time to play – everyone needs it, even shepherds – but the hours of work are spent separately.

I know some people would prefer the “Allanons” when it comes to choosing a ranger, and he has an important place in our work package. With Reina, it’s her grandmother Bridger who I see in her the most. It’s one aspect of her personality that I’m pretty excited about. We have a heavy load of predators and it’s my girls who keep holding the line.


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