Erick Conard's Lucky Hit Ranch: Anatolian Shepherd Page
Shadow with pups she rescued from the storm
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Shadow and the Storm
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Shadow's pups were twelve days old the night the storm blew through. My friend
Margaret and I had been evaluating dogs for working ability all day so we
weren't aware a severe storm with high winds and hail was headed our way!
I received a call from another friend warning me of the coming storm.
We barely made it to Margaret's new rock house in the country when the storm
hit. It was about 10:00 pm.
The lights went out and the wind was howling outside and the rain came down in
blowing sheets. We saw objects flying by and heard things crashing into her
house. An hour later the storm ended as quickly as it had begun. Outside
was chaos. None of her dozens of chicken pens remained standing. Most pens
had been blown away, leaving dozens of wet, battered chickens scattered amongst
As I stood in water up to my ankles, all I could think about was my twelve day
old Anatolian pups lying on the ground under a horse trailer. I helped Margaret
set up a few of the cages, picked up some of her chickens, and then,
controlling the anxiety I felt building, I told her I had to go to check
on my pups!
I worried all the way. I kept telling myself "Shadow is such a smart dog!
She'll make certain the pups are safe!" .... but inside I had trouble believing
a first time mother would know what to do in such a severe storm. Besides,
if it rained a couple of inches in less than an hour the water would have
flowed under the trailer, where I'd placed ten foot long, 6 inch diameter,
treated posts, making a barrier for the pups.
When I arrived at my ranch, I rushed to the horse trailer I'd placed Shadow and
the pups under. Huge tree limbs were down everywhere! At the trailer I didn't
hear a sound. The silence was sickening! I noticed the hole Shadow had dug
under the trailer was full of water and the debris on the weeds near the
trailer indicated that water had flowed there two to three inches deep! Now
I was really alarmed!
Then, from about 20 feet away from the trailer, beside my stack of large posts,
I heard a couple of contented puppy sounds. Through the darkness I saw Shadow
lying beside the stack of wood posts. I ran toward Shadow and saw that she was
nursing the pups.... all eight of them. I counted them several times to be
certain! Amazingly, they were completely dry even though she was very wet.
They could crawl under the posts to be protected from the weather but she
couldn't. I noticed that the posts were on a rise; the soil around the posts
didn't get flooded in a heavy rain.
What a wonderfully smart dog Shadow is! The pups could barely crawl so Shadow
had picked up each pup and moved it to safety. But now, still worried about
their safety, I started to move the pups into the horse trailer. Then I
stopped! Shadow had chosen the place to move the pups very well. I decided
to let her continue making that decision. She'd proven herself worthy of
Since I have been working in rescue and helping more people with problem
guardian dogs, I've really come to appreciate what great working dogs I have!
I raised my two girls in my bed from birth, which is against my ideal method
of raising a guardian, and yet they are fully bonded to goats! From five weeks
on my girls lived with the goats. I've never worked with either girl to modify
or correct her goat interaction behavior and yet both behave perfectly with
goats. I left my girls unsupervised with pregnant goats (a very BAD practice).
Some of the goats aborted when the girls were six months old. A few weeks later
kids were born and I was unable to be there. When I arrived my girls were
waiting at a respectful distance of about 30 feet ... to watch over the newborns.
Dispite the improper environment I placed my girls in, their genetics overcame
that improper invironment.
My girls are especially protective of newborns. Even when a newborn kid dies
and the mother wanders off, they stand over the baby. Nothing is allowed to
"hurt" the dead kid. They lick it so sweetly, trying to revive it. Only after
the kid begins to decay will they begin to eat the dead kid. Eating a dead kid is
protective. It keeps predators from getting the idea food is near the herd.
My dogs are aggressive toward large birds flying overhead, especially around
the time kids are born. My dogs follow any large bird that circles overhead,
leaping in the air and barking until the bird leaves my property. Although I
have a large number of hawks in the area and a newborn goat is the size of a
rabbit, I haven't lost a kid.
I have come to realize that great guardian behavior is definitely a matter
of genetics! Some modification to a dog's behavior can be accomplished but
the basic behavior comes with the dog. In order to know what kind of genetics
an Anatolian has, it is necessary for a dog to be placed in a working
environment with sheep or goats and observed over time. Without a true
working evaluation, it is impossible to know whether or not an individual
animal is a great working dog or just a large and beautiful pet.
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