As a breeder and trainer of Maremma Sheepdogs and farm owner with a variety of animals there's a lot to do and keep up with. I usually go out multiple times a day to take care of the animals as well as for quick checks on everyone. A little while ago I went out for one of those “quick checks” and it turned into a couple hour project that left me sweaty and muddy and not in the same mood I was in when I left the house.
First I decided to move the two litters of 12 week old puppies to a different pasture so they could get exposure to some different livestock as well as different sights and sounds in a new location. Unbeknownst to me there was a water trough that had been leaking a badly all day and had made a big mud hole. When I went to fix it I sank up past my ankles in mud, being lucky to get out without falling. Of course the puppies found the mud to be very exciting to play in and were soon covered in it. So much for my plan to photograph them for the website. 🤦🏻♀️😆
Next I decided to make a loop around the perimeter fence on my new Cricket Mini Golf Cart. I just got it this week and am finding it very useful for zipping from place to place, hauling feed and supplies and making quick checks on everyone. It's also great for doling out treats to all the dogs as they greet me at the fence.
So while I was making my rounds a fight broke out between two young female dogs. One is in heat and it’s just a normal thing for girls in heat to be cranky. I probably should not have put them together but they normally get along so I thought they would be ok. It was, until it wasn't. I beeped on the horn to try to distract them with no luck, so I drove to the other side of the perimeter fence. By that point the fight was over and they were in separate corners, licking their minor wounds. So I separated them, to ensure we wouldn't have a repeat performance. No real damage done. Just hormonal teenaged girls acting out.
While I was moving them I found one of my call ducks dead in the pasture behind the barn. Not in the same pasture these girls were in but in with three different young dogs. One is a 22 month old female and the others were 7 and 9 month old pups. Call ducks can fly so it probably wandered in where it didn't belong. I don’t know if the pups killed the duck or if it just died from some other cause and I found it there. It could’ve been either but it's very likely the pups decided to play with it and things got out of hand. Very sad for the duck. I do love these little ducks.
But this is what I’m not going to do. I’m not going to write a post or make a video about how "bad" or what "disappointments" these two female dogs are for fighting. I won't call these three juvenile dogs "failures" or "badly bred" for possibly killing a duck. They are all just puppies and young dogs. They are behaving normally for their ages and developmental stages. So I’m not going to label them as failures because they are not failures. Nor will I compare these young dogs to my older, mature LGD's who rarely fight and wouldn't dream of killing a duck. That's not fair at all. That's like parents who compare one child to another. Reprehensible.
Am I happy that I have a dead duck? No. Am I happy that my dogs got into a fight? No. But it would be very irresponsible of me if I did blame the dogs for their normal dog behavior, especially since I'm really the one to blame. I should have known not to put those two females together while one is in heat. I could maybe have done more to prevent the duck from wandering in with the pups. It's my responsibility as their owner to set my dogs up for success and to protect the dogs from each other and the livestock from rambunctious young dogs. Mistakes will happen so rather than beating myself up I'll learn to do better next time. But if I blamed the dogs for acting like dogs I would be guilty of betraying dogs that I love. And I will never do that, no matter how frustrated I get with them, and trust me, I do get frustrated sometimes. I'm only human.
But even more importantly, because I am a breeder, trainer, farmer and a person people do look to for advice on LGD's it would be very, very irresponsible of me to blame my dogs for normal dog behavior, as well as for my own mistakes. And that's what Abby's owner either doesn't understand or doesn't care about. When people see you as an "expert" on a particular topic you have a great responsibility to be very careful what you do and say. It really can't be all about getting "clicks" and "likes". It can't be only about entertainment, making money, gaining followers, selling videos and T-shirts.
Whether you have earned it or not, people are looking to you to help them make important decisions about their own animals, such as whether their perfectly normal puppy who may have killed a chicken, chased their goats too often or fought with another dog is worth keeping or not. Your words literally could mean the difference between life and death for innocent dogs. Are you going to sell those dogs out just to gain more money and fame? Or are you going to be responsible, encouraging and uplifting with your words?
I know you will never hear me calling one of my dogs a "failure", a "disappointment" or a "bad dog". I implore Abby's owner to not only stop calling her those horrible names, but to remove those horrible videos where HE failed Abby from his channel. I know it will mess up his SEO and cost him money but so what? What's more important to him? Getting "clicks" and money and gaining followers? Or doing right by poor, sweet Abby and other innocent dogs like her? We shall find out.
And remember, if you are bothered by this unfair treatment of Abby and other dogs like her, you have power, too. You can advocate for her. You can speak up. You can share my blog posts about her. You can demand he take down those abhorrent videos and not make any more. You can implore him to treat Abby better and to either seek professional help in training her or send her home. And you can unsubscribe, unlike and unfollow him. You have power to help Abby and dogs like her. You really do.
Author Hi I'm Kim. I love all animals but goats and dogs are my favorites so I built a business around them, breeding miniature dairy goats and Maremma Sheepdogs. I love sharing my passion and knowelege of these amazing creatures with others.