About two months ago I decided it was time to expand the the farm a little bit.
It's been my intention. To move into the ovine world by the upcoming fall, but being that I live in an area with a pretty bad wolf problem, I decided that the first order of business would be to acquire a livestock guardian first.
My thoughts were, put feelers out, take time to get the right dog, get it used to me (get me used to it!)... then get the sheep. At the end of May, I took to my favourite Facebook livestock trader group and put the word out, I was on the hunt for a pup.
A woman in the Interlake region of Manitoba (about a 5 hour drive away) contacted me about her dog. They had recently sold off all their (800!) sheep, and were in the process of dispersing the number of working dogs that lived with the herd. She had a female that the woman thought would work for me; friendly, good worker, even temper, there was only one hitch... she was pregnant.
The dog (a pure bred maremma) had accidentally been exposed to their their male (also pure bred maremma) and she was fairly certain she was pregnant.
In case you don't know me, or you haven't been following me too closely you should know, I tend to jump into things with both feet.
I figured what the heck! She was a gorgeous dog, 3 years old and sounded like a good fit for what I was looking for.
At the end of June (the 21st to be precise), my sister who was visiting from Thunder Bay and I made the trip to pick my girl up.
It was a long drive and we didn't make it home until about 10:30 at night. Echo and I did chicken chores and sniffed around the house on a leash and settled into her space in the garage where she was to live until the puppies arrived.
I unfortunately had to take an off farm job this spring to keep the property rolling and the following day I had a 12 hour 5:45 to 17:45 shift. The plan had been to chain Echo in the yard so she could go into the garage or yard as she pleased, but the fellow at Peavy Mart sold me the wrong sized hardware to make the chain run. Instead I locked her in the garage, with my parents/ sister planning to come over to keep her company a couple hours later.
I left at 4:45am. Echo must have followed.
At 7am my roommate was leaving for work and the dog was no where to be found.
Because my new job is in the kitchen at a hospital, I don't carry my phone while working so the first time I heard any news was about 3 hours into my shift. So even though I was 50km from home I organized the search effort. I alerted my parents and neighbours and people were waking, driving and 4 wheeling all around the area.
No hide or hair was seen all day that Thursday. Friday (06/23) she was spotted 2km south, on a neighbours property headed north (in the direction of home). The following Saturday (07/01) she was seen at a property about a in away from my place. A few times the next week she was seen again at the first property she had been seen and then on the Thursday (07/13) again at the second property.
On Saturday (07/22) the neighbour at the property she had first been spotted at called me at about 8am (I was again working at the hospital), she was there! She had brought her puppies to one of his outbuildings and was under a boat and trailer!
I asked him to keep an eye on them for the day and when I was off work (at 7pm) I drove (50km) straight there and brought home my girl Echo and 5 babies! (4 boys and 1 girl) she was so happy to see me, she howled and left her babies in the shed to come meet me, she was so excited (which solidified my opinion that she was just lost and couldn't find home, not that she wanted to be out there.
I spent all of Sunday "puppy proofing" my garage (as I discovered it was very much not ready for them!) and getting in some well deserved snuggle time. Echo settled in very quickly and became a fast fan of the chickens (or of their eggs at least, she's getting quite a few per day until she gets her weight back up!!) and a number of friends and relatives stopped by to meet mum and the pups (Echo is a champ, she loves meeting new people).
But wait, there's more!!
Monday I had another 12 hour shift but with my parents and neighbour's assurances that they'd stop in often (who can resist puppy snugggles?!), I was gone by 6.
By 8:30 I had a call from the lovely neighbour who had found my wayward girl and her babes. He had found another baby!! This little girl was found out in his yard, wandering on her ownshe was hungry but seemed strong. The neighbour's husband was out with their vehicle so she couldn't deliver the newest addition to be with her mother so I texted my folks to arrange a delivery while I was at work (after all the poor little girl had been away from her mum for more than 2 days and 2 nights already!).
When my roommate arrived home at about 6 he sent me a message.
"I thought you only had 5 puppies"
I explained what happened that day but received this picture:
It wasn't until I was most of the way home at 7:30pm that the neighbor called me and explained that after finding the little girl he started looking around the yard and found the den (under his house!!) and one final puppy in it!
So all 7 and mum are now home, safe and growing! And I couldn't be happier!!
Now prepare yourself for so many puppy updates!