Thor - the Alpaca Guard Dog

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Living on the Rathdrum Prairie, in Idaho, we decided to get a guard dog to protect our Huacaya alpaca family. After researching the various breeds adept at this job we decided to get a Maremma (Italian Sheepdog).

We found a working goat ranch several hours southwest of us that raised Maremma-Akbash-Great Pyraneese cross pups, so Ron went to get the 11-week-old, 33 pound white ball of fluff on 4 stumps (they certainly couldn't be called legs)!

Ron made the decision that it was time for Thor to make a visit to the vet to 'lose' a couple of his closest 'friends'. I mean the boy Thor, not Ron. After all, Thor is now 60+ pounds and 7 months old. IT IS TIME! And the appointment is made.

I asked Ron if they were going to keep Thor over night. Ron didn't know, but never mind the details.

So on Wednesday, into the truck they get (you have to have a truck to transport this dog) and off to the vet they go. Thor happy to be 'going' somewhere, and Ron happy to be having the deed done.

That night, my baby dog is home. No 'overnight stay'. Sporting this colossal 24" plastic collar to keep him from 'licking', his wound. The vet's final instructions for after care: "Keep the collar on for 10 days. Keep the wound dry. Keep him quiet. No running, jumping or strenuous." I'm thinking, YES, and just HOW are we supposed to accomplish all that with this very playful, active guy?

Day 1: After surgery: Thor is pretty good about being in the garage; I mean his meals are catered, the llama blanket that he abandoned before is becoming more attractive, he's IN THE GARAGE instead of the barn, and the humans are checking on him every few hours. This was all to Thor's liking. It may turn out the trip to the vet wasn't such a bad thing after all!

Day 2: Thor is getting restless! In need of a diversion, Ron took him with him to feed the alpacas and had NO success at 'keeping the boy quiet' (you know, jumping, running, playing, chasing, biting, running, jumping) Once outside, EVERYTHING was up for chase and play!

Day 3: Dog is HYPER now! During the night, he discovered how much fun it could be to tear apart a down sleeping bag (that was put up about 6' off the floor of our now "Puppy Proof" Garage); tear up a telephone book he found; chew off all the corners of every cardboard box he could find (never mind they ALREADY had cayenne pepper on them to keep him from chewing on them) AND decided that the porch step would be a good teething thing. His chew toys, after all, were boring, not to mention 'used'.

Day 4: We got up to discover the mess in the garage, and upon opening the door in the back towards the barn, we found PLENTY of snow to deal with!. Hmmm, need to 'plow'.

Thor was in heaven. He not only discovered snow (a NEW four-letter-word) but the fact that his collar worked REALLY WELL to scoop up the snow, then he'd throw his head high into the sky, and get a reaction from the humans at the same time (the darn dog knows which way the wind blows, and the snow went right into our faces!). GAME ON!

Meanwhile, Thor is super excited to be outside the garage, and LOVED just jumping, romping, and laying in it. ALL the things he STILL isn't supposed to do. But he burned off pent up energy, so things should be 'safe' from his teeth in the garage for the night.

WRONG!

When I heard him chewing on the porch step again, (the same one with a good dose of cayenne pepper on it) I pulled a big cow knuckle bone out of the freezer I'd been saving for him.

Happy puppy. for now.

Just WHAT ARE WE TO DO TO KEEP HIM ENTERTAINED THE NEXT 7 DAYS???

It is now two years later and Thor has taken over his duties as a guard dog very well. We provided openings for him in all the fences allowing him to patrol all the pastures at any time. A perceived predator will get an angry barrage of barking to warn it to stay away. Sometimes it is just an errant bird that landed in the pasture or the UPS driver!

If Thor feels there is a real predator in the area (like a coyote or wandering dog from a neighboring farm) he will gather the alpacas to bring them close to the shelter before going out to the fence line to ensure nothing gets in to the alpacas' home.

He even disciplines them, if needed! Occasionally when the alpacas get a little too frisky, Thor will get in between them to make them stop! Yet when a new cria arrives, he is as gentle as can be, sleeping near the pen all night to make certain the baby is okay.

He's an amazing dog, who gives us laughter with his antics, and peace of mind with our alpacas!

© Judi Hoaglund
January 15, 2007
All Rights Reserved

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