Our next door neighbor had actually shot a huge wolf at his barn last winter - right in the field next to our house! Down the road, other neighbors lost an expensive and prized buck to wolves last fall.
We have always had bears in this area, they come down and eat the apples off the trees in the fall. One old momma bear raises her cubs here every year. But as she has gotten older, she became more brazen and bold, and has become a potential threat to the neighborhood children and dogs.
The neighbors have also reported seeing a young couger in the area, probably trying to establish a territory of his own.
With my own young children and livestock, my concern for their safety led me to start researching Livestock Guardian Dogs. I wanted not only a dog or two to be our farm guardians, but also a dog to bond with my daughter and son and stay with them whenever they went outside.
A few days after starting to research LGDs (Livestock Guardian Dogs), and reading everything I could on each of the different breeds, I had started to lean towards the Maremma Sheepdog - reading accounts of their use in Canada for the big ranging herds that were used to control undergrowth as well as descriptions of their temperament and character - they seemed to be just the type of dog that would fit into our little farm. Remarkably, a couple days later, someone posted an ad on craigslist for a Maremma Sheepdog. I spent all night doing more indepth reading about Maremma Sheepdogs and the next morning sent them an email asking about the dog.
She was not being used as a LGD, but after extensive reading I felt I may be able to encourage her natural instincts. Unfortunately there was a misunderstanding and I was not able to bring Sheba, the Maremma Sheepdog, home.
I was pretty devistated. I had spent the last couple of weeks falling in love with the Maremma Sheepdog breed, planning and dreaming about my future dog plans and, like the goats we "almost" got, had it all go up in smoke!
Luckily, a family friend who has known me my entire life recently sold all of her goat herd and contacted me to see if I wanted her LGD, a Great Pyrenees cross named Freckles.
It took Freckles a few weeks to settle in, but she has already run off several coyotes and a young black wolf! She is wonderful with the children and our other livestock and has become an important part of our little farm here at Black Alder Ranch.