The indomitable Archer

The indomitable Archer

I’m not big on “milestones,” but it never hurts to do a gut check once in a while.

Archer, Armenian Gampr ish, is almost 2 years old. He came to us at a tough time for our livestock guardian dog pack. We had just lost our veteran leader, Houdini. It was also early in the pandemic. Talk about upheaval, right?

This past year wasn’t any kinder. Archer was on his way to being a guardian for the main flock, putting to use his go-getter mentality trailing them throughout the day as they grazed. Until he got sick in late spring. Diagnosis: meningitis and encephalitis.

It’s been a long, hard road. More than six months later, he’s not completely healed. Truthfully, I wasn’t sure he’d make it.

Although most Gamprs are generally stock safe, they can have a drive and forward motion. For the core of the pack, I prefer other types, but Archer has a unique place.

That’s why the loss of his vim and vigor was stark. I waited and waited. The first day he initiated a play bow with his pack mates was a pretty special moment.

Physically, he’s improved. The farm’s terrain has been his physical therapy. But it’s his mind that has been the most wounded. He’s not there yet. In many ways, he’s regressed. But I’ve seen glimpses of a more adult LGD coming through.

Today, as I worked in the main pasture, he gave me more glimpses. He positioned himself on the cliffs overlooking where the sheep grazed, facing the woodlands, where predator pressure typically comes from. He had one goober moment, when Punica, working in another pasture, yelled when she saw us. She quieted when I called, but he kept grumbling. Hush, dude, she’s on the same team. Eye roll.

As I finished evening chores, he stayed on the cliffs, quietly watching over everything. Good boy, Archer.

Here’s to second — and even third chances. May we have the patience to see them through as we flip the calendar to a new year.

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