One of my pet peeves is dogs (no pun intended). More specifically, other people’s dogs that come onto the farm.
One reason dogs were domesticated was that they were territorial and would protect their territory and their pack. Farm dogs are here for security of the pack, which includes humans and farm animals.
Our dog, Schwartz, has been very good at keeping all sorts of threats away, from bears to ravens, although I don’t know why he thinks he can catch a raven. This past summer he excelled at trying to catch the wily fox. Emphasis on “trying”.
When there is something that Schwartz sees as a threat he will bark. And he has different tones in his bark depending on what the threat is. This is good for me, because I can tell if there is someone driving onto the place or if there is a serious threat such as a wolf or a bear.
Often, when he is barking, if I go out to listen, I will also hear the yelp of a fox or coyote. His job is to patrol and protect our farm, and he does it well.
One fall a few years ago, our dog, Jersey, was not patrolling because she had just had a litter of pups. That year we had coyotes within 50 feet of our house, showing no fear of being that close to humans.
While a single coyote isn’t much of a threat to an adult human, they are still wild animals and must be treated cautiously.
The first spring we had Schwartz, he was still unsure of his place in the world. When a wolf came onto the property, he did warn us and bark at it, but he wouldn’t leave the safety of the front steps.
He has since shown himself to be smart enough to not confront a bear, although he definitely lets us know when there is one around.
This past year there has been a neighbour’s dog that would periodically come into the yard. While she never really did any harm, she did tend to lure Schwartz away from the farm and they would go exploring. No amount of scolding her would keep her away.
It may seem harsh to constantly be sending her home, but she was putting not only herself in danger, but Schwartz as well. You see there is a highway running between our house and hers. Every time she crossed it she was in danger of being hit and recently she was.
In the past, our farm has seen other neighbourhood dogs coming in and killing chickens and turkeys, even upsetting one of our sows when she was giving birth. We have also had people bring their dogs out to the farm without our prior knowledge and the result was anything from a confrontation with Schwartz to vehicles being scratched.
But this is to be expected; these dogs were strangers to Schwartz’s home and he is only doing his job.
So, while I really do like dogs, please, when coming out to the farm, leave your pets at home.