After Remy the Rooster was killed by stray dogs and guinea #8 was torn apart by a hawk, we knew we had to act quickly. I dawdled for a week while our Explorer’s engine was being worked on, and guinea #7 was attacked by a hawk. I scared it off before it could finish its work, but she was definitely not normal for a bit. More on guinea #7 later.
No more delaying.
I searched Craigslist and GoLSN.com for Australian and English Shepherd puppies. Four different families had puppies for sale in a relatively close knit area. I took our two oldest children with me and drove 2 hours east to check out our puppy options.
We had an interesting day out in the sticks, shopping for puppies.
I wish I had a photo to show you. I tried to hold a two month old Australian Shepherd in my arms while standing and it felt like I was holding a pot belly pig. In other words, awkward. These dogs were probably fed lots of grain-based food and were kept locked up inside a shed. I was very sad for them and wanted to see them enjoy life beyond the shed, but they were too old and too big for our purposes. For our children to bond with their first ever canines, I knew they needed something small enough to hold; at least to begin with.
Another Australian Shepherd seller had to go to work and couldn’t be available while we were looking. A third said we could come look, but could not actually purchase and have the dogs for two more weeks. Not that I hate driving, but making two separate trips seemed wasteful. Cross that off the list too.
Fourth Time’s the Charm
Finally, we came to Rickman, Tennessee. Stormy and his wife Dana own a couple hundred acres there. Their English Shepherds Jake and Jenny have given birth to eight or nine litters. This litter of nine English Shepherds consisted of four males and five females.
I observed the litter for about an hour and selected both a male and a female. Stormy, the owner, helped me select the male. He showed me which male he thought was best, and after listening to his explanation why, I felt convinced he was correct. It always helps to get insight from the seller. I chose the female by observing and holding each I could. All the females were shy and tried to stay a safe distance inside the pen.
On the drive home, both puppies rested in my daughter’s lap. We converted a spare rabbit cage into a temporary shelter so the dogs would be protected and stay on property until they understand where home is.
We named our male Duke and the female Dharma. Based on current behavior, Duke will be the leader of all animals on the homestead once he’s fully grown. Dharma LOVES to be held – she sticks her nose under my arm and goes to sleep pretty quickly. They both need training, which is next on the list of to dos.
My hope is that they will sleep in the barn to keep the current guineas and future chickens safe. We already have four deck cats that were supposed to be barn cats, but rarely actually visit the barn unless they’re following me. We don’t need any more deck dwellers. I’m not sure how to get the cats off the deck all day because they know where the food ends up coming from, so they stay perched and waiting. Any suggestions are welcome.