Good Doggie!

Rare on the couch. Thunder!!

Ahhh my Thatcher! He's coming up on 2 years old and what a good boy he is. I was trying to tell someone in a few words what makes him such a special dog, breed, livestock guardian (LGD), but was having trouble keeping it brief. So, here goes a few reasons:

Two and half years ago I awoke to missing ducks. Lots of them over the course of a few weeks. It was awful when I finally found them.  Or should I say parts of them strewn all over the neighbors back area near the canal. Knowing then it was time to get a livestock dog, but what, from where? It just so happened another friend had picked up a livestock dog from a working farm and breeder who mixes Great Pyrenees and Anatolians.... and so it began.... Me and Thatcher.

Rare times in the house. He spent the first year of his life outside. 24/7.
This is Day 1. Took this picture and promptly put him outside with the goats.
Luckily, there were 3 newborns in a stall so I put him with them. They were separated by a small dog fence. Which I was sure couldn't be breached. By morning, I found Thatcher and the three newborns snuggling and knew he was a good idea.

From 1 to 4 months Thatcher was just plain fun. He was introduced to every animal and then some. Ducks, chicks, pig, goats, dogs, rabbits, parrots, chickens, guinea hens, horses. Each animal taught him how to behave.  Especially Prissy. She is by far the top dog on this homestead. When he got too big for the kids, I put him in with the junior doelings. When he got to playful, I put him in with the mini horse and the bucks. When he was just bad, I put him in with the senior does. Each group taught him something. The senior does can be pretty mean and especially unforgiving. He took it all like a champ. Never ever have I seen him retaliate, but just lay down and relinquish to the goats. I have some big girls here. He took it all with a patience and stride another breed of dog would not. I knew then he was pretty special.

Thatcher at 4 months. Playing with Prissy. Even today at almost 120lbs he still treats her sweetly and gently.

Thatcher meeting willow. Willow is a house bunny and lives in the garage.

There were definite times where he was a problem. At 7 months, Thatcher felt all food was his. His alone. And he and Old Man got into it on occasion. It had to stop. It became problematic. Feeding everyone separately and the extra work was taking it's toll. I wondered if the charm of Thatcher was wearing off. Old man was an un-neutered male. Thatcher still un-neutered. They ended up working it out. Today, I free feed. Thatcher can sit patiently and watch while Oliver and Prissy eat. It just has to be after he is full. And yes, Thatcher is now neutered. It did mellow out his food issues. It also saves me money when they gauge their own food amounts.

The only other issue I've had is keeping up with "I'm ALPHA" not him. This is not so much a problem but extra work and time, and thinking. For instance, all animals can jump on the bed when I sleep. NOT THATCHER. I have to be more strict with him. He must not force his way into an area, he must wait. He can't jump up on you EVER. We've had our moments. We've come to a concise agreement. I'm the boss. But I can tell he doesn't always like it. Though I'm a benevelent beotch, he concedes. He will not though, if doing something he thinks important, to come when called. I've conceded that this will likely never be... So I wait. Patiently till he's run his rounds, sniffed that tree, peed on that strand of grass. It is his domain. And who am I to tell him to not do his job.

Thatcher at 11 months. And still growing....

 At about 1 year he was tall enough and strong enough to jump, climb, shimmy over fences.  At 1 year and 3 months I'd had enough of that, and we put a new 5 ft. no climb fence up in the back. It worked. What he climbs is the horse fencing, like a ladder. That will have to go. Pretty but not safe to keep him contained. He does like to roam. His territory is the 5 neighboring properties. And although at the moment all happy to see him, in the future must stop. As well the pond. He loves the neighbors pond. Dangerous. Gators. I have noticed though he stays out of the canal. I wonder why, did he meet one?

Must have water for him to sit in at all times. We've gone thru 3 pools.
Trust me! There are times when I want to ring his neck. I never have. But I know HE knows what I'm thinking. and he thinks it's a game to try my patience. But he concedes and we move on. He is by far the smartest dog I've ever encountered. The breed books ring true with stories of these masterful fighters. Benevolent leaders. Thinking dogs. In the beginning, I was truly worried about constant milk traffic on the property and his response. As long as he is allowed to be there to let them in, walk them up, and get to do his thing, all is well. Anytime I've locked him in the house? nightmare.

Yes! He can shimmy into this window.

Delilah and Thatcher playing with a visitor.

 And true to form as the books and articles say, this breed loves children. LOVES CHILDREN. If a child is on the property, he takes the same stance as if it was one of his goats. He follows them around. Sits with them. And generally just plays guardian.

Thatcher' name obviously was a nod to Margaret Thatcher. I wanted a dog to rule with an iron fist. Although, he's just turning two come November he is coming into his own. I'm hoping no other new habits crop up. If they do we'll deal with them as they come.  I feel comfortable leaving newborn goats in the barn, chicks running freely, and haven't lost a duck or any animal since he got here.

Till I can fix the other half of the perimeter fences, and because of the heat, he comes inside during the day. I noticed he stays put at night. Guarding. Doing his job. And when I go out to work the goats he comes with and does his thing. He is the boss. And I'm thankful to have him. I sleep better at night knowing he's out there. Now that Old Man is gone, I'm even considering starting this process all over again. Oh lordy!

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