Erick Conard's Lucky Hit Ranch

A Tribute to Conard's Golden Girl
By Dee Hadorn, Cerulean Farm, Harrah, Oklahoma
Brandy - a stunning female with correct type, superior working demeanor, and excellent temperament!
Conard's Golden Girl (Brandy)
Conard's Golden Girl (Brandy)
You can see what excellent pups Brandy produced!
A Tribute to Conard's Golden Girl

Conard's Golden Girl, our dear Brandy, is now a very old lady - full of years, memories, and accomplishments. Although she was twelve (12) on April Fool's Day, 2003, Brandy still leads our mammas and baby Angoras to the grazing pasture on fine days. They all have the option of lounging in the barn when it is wet, cold or dark.

Our first Anatolian, Tess, was a Hisar Hamsin (Rusgar) daughter - tough like her daddy. Nearly five years old, and with no livestock experience, Tess came to us as a rescue. Like many rescue situations, Tess' decided to stay with us, and tolerated my lack of experience and the exigencies of the Angoras. Tess decided to make it work and her toughness was the only reason we lost no goats in our early experience.

Tess' children or grandchildren (most of whom are Brandy's children as well) are the only reason we are able to keep goats on our 90 acres in central Oklahoma. Even though she was formidable, Tess could not be expected to handle every predator alone. We have coyotes, bob cats, hawks and owls, stray dogs, and (a neighbor found his 150 pound ewe half-eaten in a tree) cougars.

We bought a male pup from Harold and Irelyn Carter of Billings, OK. Even though young Dana had been born in the goat barn and came from generations of distinguished working Anatolians, he would not be big enough to guard very much until he was a little older.

I learned that Erick Conard had a litter of pups he'd been raising with goats. These pups were a little older than "normal" and were raised using his "Strictly Working Method." When our phone call went very well, I arranged a visit to Conard Farms, near Austin, in November of 1991.

Anatolian stories I had heard said "don't even try to get out of your vehicle with an Anatolian loose on the land." When Erick's big male Ebeling's Kasif (Casy) met me at the truck, I wasn't sure exactly what to do. He offered neither hostile noises or smiles, so I finally got out and walked to the door under his watchful eyes. Later I was told that Casy didn't bother people he perceived weren't going to cause trouble. Nonetheless, careful is always better.

Erick's stories are almost as warm as his smile - the epitome of genuine Texas hospitality. He explained his pup-raising procedures for strictly working Anatolians. These pup-raising procedures can be viewed at Erick's web site at The Right Start: A Method for Raising Strictly Working Anatolians. We next visited each of Erick's pups; each pup was in a pen with its individual goat, which Erick changed frequently to be certain the pup's level of aggression matched the goat's level, an extremely important concept. Then we viewed a video of each pup's initial pasture turn-out with Erick's goat herd.

Because I was seeking a female, we paid special attention to Conard's Tawny Kat and Conard's Golden Girl.

"How much would you like for them?" I asked. When his price for Tawny was double his price for Golden Girl I asked, "Why the difference?"

"I don't want to sell Tawny," he replied, honest in the extreme.

Tawny was a little larger, but she clearly wanted to stay where she was and double the price. So, Golden Girl became Brandy and came home with me.

On the trip home in the pickup, Brandy lay on the seat beside me, generally trying to ignore me. She said she might have to go home with me, but she didn't have to like it. She got out on the leash to pee, but wouldn't. I stopped at McDonald's and bought her own hamburger - plain. She wouldn't eat it.

The excitement came when I introduced Brandy to Tess. When Tess saw Brandy (through the fence) she said, "I'm going to eat you, bitch." Brandy, only seven months-old and nearly four and a half years younger, replied, "Come on, then." Brandy has never needed to boast about being an alpha female, but is clearly capable nonetheless.

The enmity between Tess and Brandy never changed or mellowed. It continues between Tess' and Brandy's daughters and granddaughters even though they are related on the sire's side. As they age, the venom wanes, but does not disappear. Even spayed females fight with fury.

The year after I brought Brandy home, Tess' pups, Cerulean Nick and Cerulean Lion were born. When Lion was about five months old he decided to assert his independence. I wanted Lion to come to the dairy barn, but he put on the brakes and turned his teeth to my hand. Twenty yards away, Brandy saw what he was doing (and my lack of appropriate response). Before I realized what was happening, Brandy had Lion on the ground with her teeth on his windpipe.

She didn't bite him, and she didn't growl, but Lion got the message - and no mistake. After a couple of tense minutes, she let him up. I grabbed him by the collar again and took off toward the dairy barn - both of us shaken and "speechless". After about 10 steps, Lion reapplied his brakes tentatively and looked back at Brandy. Her glare was sufficient to propel him to the barn without further incident.

"Flexing muscles" is common for young Anatolians who are just learning they are big, tough dogs. Lion was not the problem. I was - with my own lack of experience. This was our first litter of pups. Even though Brandy came to us as a pup, she rarely needed correction (except when the Border Collies were involved). I clearly had not anticipated the intensity of pup-discipline issues and was even less prepared for stern corrections. Brandy was barely more than a year old, but the excellence of her instinct told her exactly what was required. The blood called to her, and she answered. It has her entire life, and I am the grateful beneficiary.

Soon it was Brandy's turn to have pups with Tess' big son, Nick. If you have ever read Elizabeth Marshall Thomas' description of dog marriage in The Hidden Life of Dogs, you have a good picture of the courtship between Brandy and Nick. They were thrilled with each other and it was obvious in their every move and gesture. Their pasture was about 4 acres, and they used all of it. Smiles, flying tails, twirling bodies and expectant posturing - two young dogs with everything going for them - delighting in each other.

From Brandy and Nick came the light of my life. Cerulean Katy. Katy was the only daughter in that litter, the largest and the favorite from beginning to end. Her best "trick" was to lie on her back for a stomach rub and roll her eyes. Even as an adult, she did this for me when she wanted attention.

As with Brandy, Katy NEVER did anything to disturb the flock. When Katy was a year old, a young Angora doe had a surprise baby and we separated mamma and baby from the herd to put them in a kidding stall. Katy put the top of her head (and her body, of course) on the ground to make sure she didn't frighten the newborn. Cerulean Haji was not so careful - sniffing the baby from a standing position. He wasn't doing anything that I could see, but Katy was less easily satisfied. She grabbed Haji by the throat and put him on his back - just as I had seen her mamma do with Lion. "Don't you scare that baby, you big Lummox!!"

More recently, before I lost my dear Katy to illness and her daughters to a murderer, Brandy stayed in a pasture commensurate with her seniority. Now, even as an elderly dog, she takes the goats to the pasture in the morning. Less nimble, Brandy goes willingly and they are glad to follow her obvious expertise and feel safe in her presence.

When our Angora mammas begin having kids, we lock them up in the barn with a small yard. Even though we know when we are due, a few Angora mammas always kid early - and outside. This year I knew there was a problem just by the way Brandy was lying there in the grove of trees behind the barn - pointing directly at two little mounds of sand. Brandy was about ten feet away from early twins that I could easily have overlooked. Her consistent flock guardian ability and her unfailing concern for her charges have been hallmarks of her presence here at Cerulean Farm. Brandy is also helping to guide my new Anatolian pup, Lucky Hit Moon Shadow (Jordan) , in the ways of the wise working Anatolian. Jordan is a daughter of Brandy's niece, Lucky Hits Tawny Shadow. Jordan's sire is the working Anatolian, Sakarya's Blazing Legend (Duke). Brandy gives Jordan a stern warning growl when the youngster becomes too rambunctious, but otherwise Brandy is tolerant of Jordan's juvenile frivolities.

Now that her daughter, Cerulean Alexa, and her grandson, Cerulean Warf are guarding the same flock, Brandy permits herself the small luxury of a smile and warm greeting. She has a "walking slowly, smiling and wagging" posture that invites me to luxuriate in her smooth, silky coat.

Brandy and her children have taught me what a livestock guardian dog can be. They are an unquestionable gold standard. They put themselves in harm's way for me and my flock. We sleep peacefully and secure, knowing nothing will hurt us with them on duty. I feel privileged to know, and have known them.

Dee Hadorn
Cerulean Farm
Harrah, OK

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