Meet Finnick, our newest livestock guardian dog
This year has been quite full. Mostly, of new dogs. Guess it’s not too late to add another, right?
Breezy intro aside, I do not recommend adding multiple young livestock guardian dogs, or any dogs, really, in a short period of time. It requires time management, personality management and an eye for making sure they all succeed at their own pace. It often feels like two steps forward, two back and one and a half to the left — or right, depending on the day.
The moves made over the past year or so were necessitated by the loss of a veteran lead LGD, followed by the loss of a 2-year-old. It was a cumulative of more than 10 years of experience and training gone — especially considering the relatively recent loss of the oldest guardian in Bruno. It gutted the pack. As it is now, the LGD corps is completely different than it was a year and a half ago. That amount of transition can be overwhelming. Not to mention, I welcomed a new border collie, Puck, now 1 year old, in the middle of LGD transitions.
Warrior’s North Star
Now, our LGDs are as follows: Maya, 3.5 year old Turkish LGD, and Archer, almost 2 year old Armenian Gampr ish; both currently perimeter guardians and main flock guardians by proxy; Punica, 16 month old Turkish LGD; main rotational sheep guardian; and Fantasma, 7 month old Turkish LGD, bird whisperer and budding force of nature in training.
And new to the team: 11-week-old Turkish male, Warrior’s North Star of Chasing Sheep Ranch. Also known as Finnick, or Finn. Both names honor his origins. Born on a Saskatchewan sheep ranch, his sire is a UKC Kangal with direct import lines on the dam and sire’s side. His paternal grandfather, named Ancient Warrior, was born out in the sheep pastures in the Sivas region and imported to the U.S. His sire’s maternal side also includes direct imports brought into the U.S.
You read that right. He has Kangal imports into the U.S. in his lineage. And I had to go to Canada to get him. Such is the nature of the LGD world these days. But that’s a post for another day.
Finnick was his litter name, and it’s derived from the English word that means “marshland farm.” His mother, a Kangal/Anatolian, is named Scota, after the Egyptian princess that became the figurehead of Scotland. She is a sweet but serious working dog, and a hardcore sheep guardian. Finn’s name evokes her name’s anchoring in the British Isles, as well as the wide open prairie and marshes of where he was born.
I watched the litter all the way from birth, but it wasn’t until I visited the ranch that I selected Finnick. On the drive to and from Saskatoon, I passed snow geese congregating in fields and ducks swimming in lakes. Two moose ran across the road in front of me at one point. It’s a place that has its own set of challenges, and beauty as well.
Finnick’s breeder, Prairie Bryson, and her family have a pack of working LGDs protecting a commercial sheep flock and other stock on their ranch, from all manner of predators. They have a similar perspective to mine: make an LGD part of your life, build a relationship with it and give it a job.
Finnick has settled into his new life with zest. As with all of the LGDs, he spends time with me at first, either in the house as I do newspaper work or outside tagging along on chores or hanging out with sheep or birds. He’ll get training in obedience. He’ll go on field trips off the farm to learn how to handle new and varied experiences. Most importantly, he’ll learn how to be a part of our team and a partner in work and in life. Having raised LGDs the way many advise, and the way I currently do, I prefer the relationship it establishes with these dogs, as well as the adaptability it encourages.
Finn’s already proved to be very quick to pick up on concepts and ideas. He’s got a keen sense of humor and personality in spades, but a serious side too. He’s already muscled up next to me and warned off an approaching ogre — it was Punica, coming up to us in the dark. Oops! He’s alerted to a jail break by the muscovy ducks, too. Picture a puppy, standing there, hands on hips. “Hello! Irregular!”
And so it goes. Welcome to the team, Finn.