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Sunday, April 21 2013

Years ago I had the sweetest little Catahoula Leopard Dog named Frio. She wasn't much to look at: gray spots on a black body with tan points. Frio was the kind of farm dog that fought snakes and rats with the same ferocity that she protected children.

At the same time I had a beautiful Belgian Tervuren dog named Katy. She was one of the most beautiful dogs I'd ever seen. Sweet, goofy and very affectionate, she also had the heart of a killer. Katy was a high drive-low threshold dog who was very dog aggressive. For years I juggled Katy and everyone around her: people and dogs. Katy was an efficient chicken killer who actively hunted birds, waiting for her opportunity to strike. At the time I didn't have sheep or goats, but eventually Katy killed every chicken I had. Katy bullied gentle Frio every chance she got and many dog fights ensued as Katy (and Alice the Bloodhound) tag-teamed innocent Frio. And yet, I arrogantly tried to manage the dogs because I didn't think it was fair to Katy to put her down for dog aggression.

And one day I made a mistake. To make an ugly story short, Gentle Frio had to be euthanized because of her injuries. The next day Katy was euthanized for killing Frio. I lost two dogs in two days because of my arrogance. I was so concerned about doing what was right for Katy that I forgot the most important point: what about what was fair to Frio?

I still cry over that little dog.

If there was anything to be learned from Frio's lesson it was not to lose sight of the victim. Because no matter how good your intentions are, eventually you will make mistakes . . .

 . . . just like I made on Tuesday when I turned Oli out when the sheep were in the yard. Oli is the most efficient killing machine I've seen since Katy. Within two months of Oli moving onto my farm, she had already killed one sheep and injured another. Whose fault? Mine.

We juggled Oli for years and last December Oli was turned loose with the sheep again. Whose fault? Other Half's. Thankfully Briar had us covered and we skated on that one.

And last week? Whose fault? Mine.

But after Oli's adventure last week she kicked up her hunting a notch. No longer content to trot circles at the fence, Oli began to actively try to find ways over, under, or through the field fencing to get to the sheep. She could not be left unattended in the yard at all. To give Oli potty breaks I had to stand at the fence line with Briar to be sure that Oli didnt get through the fence. Even then, she would trot past and cast a look at us,

"Y'all still there? Bummer. Still there." And off she'd trot.

It was painfully apparent that we couldn't live like this anymore. Eventually we'd make a mistake and another sheep would die. Other Half wanted to put her down immediately after he heard she wouldn't call off the sheep. I argued that the incident was my fault. Oli is what she is. The fault was mine. And then I watched her continue to hunt them and I remembered Frio.

I was caught up in doing what was fair to Oli, but what about the victim?

What about Jamaica and Roanie?


What about Ma?

We'd already tried to find a home for her but no one who wanted her was qualified to handle such an efficient predator. And so I told Other Half to go ahead and put her down.

But we were both busy. Life was chaotic and we simply didn't have time this week to get to the vet's. I didn't want to do it, but I hardened my heart each time I stood in the dark at the fence line and watched her try to sneak past me. I had reached the point where I threw up my hands to God and said

 "I just can't deal with this any more! YOU handle it!"

(God apparently forgives my snarky behavior...)

Because wonder of wonders . . . I got an email from Julie. She is one of the folks I had contacted when the agency retired Oli and I was looking for a qualified home for her. At the time I had assured her that Oli was in no danger. We were happy to have Oli live with us for as long as it took to find a good 'forever' home for her. That was before Oli 'amped up' her attempts to get the sheep.

Julie wrote that she'd been thinking about Oli and was just checking on her.

So I told her about our little predator's recent activities and our decision to put her down this week. Although Julie had a 'full house' she told me she'd try to 'pull a rabbit out of a hat.'

And she did. Julie found Kym, who also has a full house, but who has a soft spot for adorable, snuggly little sheep killers who simply cannot live on farms but who are otherwise sweet little dogs. Kym runs Triumphant Tails Dog Rescue and after talking with her, I realized that she would be able to handle our little sheep killer. She agreed to keep her until she could find a qualified home for her (not on a farm!) and Oli is already fitting into Kym's home.

 It sounds like she's happy.  Couches, long walks, dog buddies, raw food (Kym said Oli LOVES the raw food diet. No surprise there!)


I'm certainly happy. I hated the idea of putting Oli down for no other crime than simply being a predator. A tiger is a tiger. One simply doesn't keep a tiger with sheep and then blame the tiger for being a tiger.

But if you don't do 'something' with the tiger, you WILL end up with a lot of dead sheep.

And Frio will always remain in the back of my mind, speaking for the victim . . .








Posted by: forensicfarmgirl AT 10:09 am   |  Permalink   |  1 Comment  |  Email
Yikes.. this made me shudder and I am glad Oli found a place. I have a fairly new Pyrenees who's never been around chickens. (he is 3). He is a sweetie and now good with the goats and donkeys, but has only been around the chickens on lead and we will have to see if he becomes ok with them. In the meantime, my two other pyrs are great with the poultry. I am very careful he does not get out of the pasture he's supposed to be in!
Posted by Linda Nightsky Farm on 04/23/2013 - 11:35 PM

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