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Working Dogs, Pyrenees & Maremma

by Kippy Maitland-Smith
(Rocky Mountain House, AB, Canada)

In the early '80s we had about 100 head of Polled Herefords on our ranch near Rocky Mountain House, Alberta. The usual story, losing calves to coyotes & wolves, no matter how we watched & shot. So we bought a young, second-hand Pyrenees dog who turned into the best ever!

When he began to age we bought a puppy bitch who had an oopsie & whelped just at calving time. Meanwhile our dog had his shoulder broken by an unpleasant neighbour. We lost 7 calves to coyotes despite bringing the cows as close to the house as we could. So we turned the bitch out & told her she was a working mother which stopped the predation. However, the bitch was a runner & was stolen.

Our next dog was shot by same unpleasant neighbour. So we switched to Maremmas who stay home better, & we had a crossbred brother & sister. My husband got ill so we sold the cows and started a riding & boarding stable. Still needed the guarding dogs. The male Maremma is a coward who does barking retreats but his sister, who was very brave, took on a cougar & lost.

My husband, who had always done the predator shooting, died, so I bought a crossbred Pyrenees bitch pup who is another star. I sold that big ranch and bought a smaller quarter section of land for myself, my son and 18 horses. The neighbours have great problems with a coyote pack who live on the quarter just west of mine and now cougars. So far I have seen neither coyote nor cougar though I hear my (cowardly) Maremma and brave Pyrenees barking fiercely at night. There's a big difference between their "go away, deer" bark and their, "get the hell out of here you killer!!" bark.

I always have a donkey as well because they work well against stray dogs and coyotes. So that's my guarding dog story so far; I'm beginning to look for another Maremma to replace my 13 year old one because I think 2 are safer than 1 against cougars.

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