March 26, 2022

The puppy we picked up yesterday was in Northwest Arkansas in a town about 75 miles away.  Melissa was excited to share our new addition to the family and had made plans to drop by both her sister’s and our friends in Fort Smith.  When we arrived at the puppy’s house the owner told us she had not eaten and wanted to know if we wanted to wait.  There was a huge pan of food which three of the siblings were feeding from.  Melissa declined, even though we still had an hour and a half drive, plus the two stops.  That turned out to be a good decision.  Melissa thought it would be good for me to bond with the puppy by letting it sit in my lap on the way home.  Her sister did not live far so we loaded up and went to see her.  After the oohs and aahs, we loaded again and started the next leg.  The puppy is a black Great Parenesis mix who we decided to name Zena, the Warrior Princess.  As a mix we hope she will be smaller.

When I went online, I found The Pyrenean Mountain Dog (French: Chien de Montagne des Pyrénées) is a breed of livestock guardian dog from France, where it is commonly called the Patou.  The breed comes from the French side of the Pyrenees Mountains that separate France and Spain.  It is recognized as a separate breed from the closely related Pyrenean Mastiff, which is from the Spanish side of the mountains.  The breed is widely used throughout France as a livestock guardian, particularly in the French Alps and Pyrenees, protecting flocks from wolves and bears.  The breed is known as the Great Pyrenees in the United States, where it is also used to protect flocks from various predators.  Hopefully Zena will be able to protect our bird flocks from the “vicious” squirrels.

For millennia dogs like Zena were used by shepherds to protect their flocks and were usually fitted with a heavy iron wolf collar studded with long nails for protection.  They were often used in combination with the smaller Pyrenean Sheepdog, the former guarding the flocks and the latter herding them.  They were also used to smuggle contraband between France and Spain, carrying packs over the Pyrenees on routes impassable to humans to avoid detection by customs officials.  The Pyrenees today is used in its original role as a livestock guardian for shepherds in the French Pyrenees and the French Alps, as well as in the US.  Beginning in the late 1970’s, US sheep farmers began employing guardian dogs to protect their flocks from predators.  Several factors influenced the move to integrate dogs into farming operations, including federal restrictions on poisons to control predators.  A 1986 survey of over 400 farmers employing 763 livestock guardian dogs in the US found 57% of them used Pyrenean Mountain Dogs. 

THOUGHTS:  When we left Melissa’s sister, we did not get two miles before Zena became sick.  The bonding began quickly as she went through several episodes during the ride home.  While the owner said Zena had not eaten, that did not appear to be the case.  Getting sick on a puppy’s first ride is not uncommon, and at least one other puppy from the house had the same.  This is one of many firsts we look forward to over the years.  Bringing new babies (human or pets) into the household cause a shift in “the way we have always done things.”  The pandemic brought a similar shift that we are still trying to work through.  Being different does not mean worse, just different.  Follow the science.  Do the work.  Change is coming and it starts with you.

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