Long time readers of the blog will remember the tragic story of Tessa, our Great Pyrenees livestock guardian dog, that was hit by a car earlier this year. For those unfamiliar with these events, the four key posts are listed in chronological order in the right margin of the blog, under the heading “Goodbye to a Great Dog.” Those were difficult days, particularly since we’d just lost our beloved Collie on the same stretch of roadway a few months earlier.
Our current dogs, Tabasco and Scooter, are excellent companion animals, very good at herding the sheep, and are wonderful “all around farm dogs.” Every farm needs a Tabasco and/or a Scooter. But a farm with this many sheep and other livestock also needs a guardian dog…and neither Tabasco nor Scooter is quite big enough to put the fear of God into a pack of coyotes. We tried importing an adult Great Pyrenees male that another farm no longer needed, but that was a disaster from the get-go; he not only fought with our other dogs, but he wouldn’t stay on the property. He’d regularly take off for hours at a time, trotting around miles of the surrounding countryside (and annoying other farmers to no end).
We needed a Great Pyrenees puppy, and those are surprisingly difficult to find. We ended up contacting a breeder in Michigan, near where Mrs. Yeoman Farmer’s family is located. They were expecting a litter this summer, and we were among the first to get on their list. Unfortunately, we were the last family to actually get there and pick up their puppy. (More on that later.) We simply weren’t able to make it up to MI until this coming weekend, and the breeder said that would be fine. We were all looking forward to a nice trip visiting family, capped off by getting our puppy on the way home.
Until last night, that is. I got a frantic, emotional email from the breeder; our puppy had been running around in the front yard, all was well, and then a visitor had gotten into a car to leave…and backed right over our puppy. She was extremely apologetic, promised to refund our money, and said they hoped to have another litter next summer. I could tell she was very upset by the whole thing; heck, those are emotions that our family has gotten to know pretty well over the last year. I assured her that it was partly our own fault for not getting the puppy sooner, and that we know these kinds of things happen when you’re dealing with living creatures.
In fact, that’s how Mrs Yeoman Farmer and I decided we should break it to the kids — by analogy. We sell turkeys at Thanksgiving. Customers reserve these turkeys in advance, but are told we have only a limited number. If they want to absolutely guarantee they’ll get a turkey, they need to come earlier rather than later. When there’s just one turkey left to butcher, we’ve had all kinds of bad things happen: they’ve wandered into traffic, fallen to predators, or done other stupid turkey things. We’re going to tell the kids that in this case, we had a reservation for a puppy – but we were the last to actually get their puppy, and “something happened” to that puppy before we could pick her up. (We don’t think the kids, particularly Artistic Girl, are in any frame of mind to process details about yet another car flattening yet another dog.)
In talking with Mrs Yeoman Farmer, I did manage one bit of gallows humor to break the obvious distress we were all feeling. “Hey,” I told her, “we’re now managing to get our dogs hit by cars before we even bring them home.”
I laughed, and she laughed. But we’re still going to be remaining Pyrless for the foreseeable future.