Secluded  Wood  Alpacas

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This is the story of our first Herd Guardian - Jacques, and of his breed,
                       The Pyrenean Mountain Dog or Great Pyrenees.

As We began to set up our new farm, we needed a guardian dog for our Alpacas. In researching the possible breeds, the Great Pyrenees came to the top of the list as breeds we thought would be a good fit.

A little bit of History of the Great Pyrenese

The Pyrenean Mountain Dog, or Great Pyrenees, were bred to guard flocks of sheep, and are instinctively adapted to their work. For thousands of years, they have been protecting flocks in the Pyrenean Mountains of Southern France. The shepherds relied on the dogs' wisdom and courage to anticipate danger and drive away predators such as bears and wolves. The "Pyr" was also used throughout the middle ages to protect fortresses. They are an ancient breed and may have originally descended from Central Asian dogs such as the Tibetan Mastiff. The Romans left paintings of similar dogs, called "Molossian Hounds."
 
More recently, the breed served as the official dog of the royal French court (whose prominence began circa the Middle Ages, and lasted until the middle of the nineteenth century). During World War II the dogs were used to haul artillery over the Pyrenean Mountain range to and from Spain and France.

The Great Pyrenees are related to a number of big, white, livestock guardian breeds, still found throughout Europe and Asia, including the Italian Maremma, the Turkish Akbash, the Polish Tatra, the Hungarian Kuvasz and Komondor, and the Anatolian Shepherd.

The Pyr, as many owners affectionately refer to the Pyrenees, is a working dog who's physical and mental characteristics have remained virtually unchanged through the centuries. While today, the Pyr is most commonly seen as a family companion or in the show ring, there is a growing interest to use the breed once again as a guardian of livestock.

American Kennel Club Breed Standards.

Is this the Right Breed for You?
While affectionate with his family and quiet and tolerant in general, if there is something to guard or protect, the Great Pyrenees can become quite territorial. Because they were bred to work independently and make decisions on their own, Pyrs may not be the star of the local obedience class. The breed should be exercised daily on leash or in a fenced area. New owners should be prepared for barking, especially at night, and brushing approximately once per week.

Temperament:
Character and temperament are of utmost importance. In nature, the Great Pyrenees is confident, gentle, and affectionate. While territorial and protective of his flock or family when necessary, his general demeanor is one of quiet composure, both patient and tolerant. He is strong willed, independent and somewhat reserved, yet attentive, fearless and loyal to his charges both human and animal.

General Appearance:
The Great Pyrenees dog conveys the distinct impression of elegance and unsurpassed beauty combined with great overall size and majesty. He has a white or principally white coat that may contain markings of badger, gray, or varying shades of tan. He possesses a keen intelligence and a kindly, while regal, expression. Exhibiting a unique elegance of bearing and movement, his soundness and coordination show unmistakably the purpose for which he has been bred, the strenuous work of guarding the flocks in all kinds of weather on the steep mountain slopes of the Pyrenees.

Size:
The height at the withers ranges from 27 inches to 32 inches for dogs and from 25 inches to 29 inches for bitches. A 27 inch dog weighs about 100 pounds and a 25 inch bitch weighs about 85 pounds. Weight is in proportion to the overall size and structure.

And now introducing Jacques:
We fell in love with this 3 month old pup as soon as we saw his picture in our e-mail.  Who couldn't love that face ?!
 
So we called up the breeder and said we would take him. But he was up in Port Alberni -3 hours away, and we didn't have time to drive up to meet him until 2 months later. By the time we visited him for the first time, he was already 5 months old... and had grown...
LOTS ! 
The picture below was sent to us by the breeder.
This was what Jacques looked like the day before we went to pick him up.
He had spent the day in a muddy creek and was looking a bit sheepish.

And this is our guy when we got him home... 6 months old and all cleaned up.

He arrived on the farm a few months before the alpacas were scheduled to be relocated here.

At first, it was all about play and getting to know each other

Once we brought the Alpacas onto the property, Jacques suddenly had a job to do,

and he did it well.

He took his job as a herd guardian very seriously and it didn't take him long to become

one of the herd.

This picture was taken the day the alpacas were delivered to our new loacation in Sooke, BC.  

There is always room for one more on the farm!

 Jill is a local rescue dog. Part great pyr... crossed with something?  We are not quite sure, but she joined our team in the summer of 2014

Jill was 2 years old when we rescued her from a less than loving situation.

She was initially a little shy around the alpacas. She had not previously had the responsibility of being a Guardian and was going out of her way to not make direct eye contact with the alpaca, but there was no aggression on her part, rather quite the opposite.

But the curiosity of the alpacas was relentless as they attempted to get to know the new family member, and Jill soon settled into her new role...

with the help of Jacques as her mentor.

Jacques & Jill quickly became BFF's.  Not only did they play well together, but Jacques and Jill also become a livestock security system to be reckoned with,

working in tandem to keep the critters safe.


Check out more photos and stories on our facebook page.