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Much Ado About Nothing? Or Should we be Worried?
Posted on 11/05/2013 in Coonhound Bloodlines Editor's Comments.

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For many years, a sheep farmer down the road from me (who has since passed away), maintained a flock of about 200 registered ewes. He also had a small flock of about 30 replacement rams, also registered, that he sold all over the country. Because his sheep were quite valuable, and we had (and still have) a large coyote population in our area, he took great care to protect them. He did have a llama that ran with the ewes, and also had five to seven Great Pyrenees flock guardians that lived with the sheep year-round. Two of the females had a litter each year, and all of the puppies grew up with the sheep until they were sold.
I was fascinated by them and every day as I drove by on my way home from work, I always looked for them in the fields. Normally they could be seen mixed in with the flocks, calmly watching over their charges while scanning the fence and tree lines for intruders.

Two of the males regularly patrolled from just inside the fence line along the narrow country road, and, barking loudly with hair standing up, charged any car they thought might be going slowly enough to be a supposed threat. I wondered about this behavior as guardian dogs usually do not pay much attention to people, even those they are unfamiliar with. In fact, one of the females got out regularly and would sit next to the fence, looking worried that it wasn’t in with the flock. It was not uncommon for any of us who knew the dogs to stop and put her back in. All you had to do was open the gate, and she would rush back in, avoiding you in the process.

I asked a friend who was a guardian dog expert about this “ferocious rushing-the-fence” behavior and she explained that it was merely what she called “posturing”; i.e., making themselves look big and bad to ward off all potential danger. And it worked.

What’s my point, you are probably wondering. The recent revisions to the Animal Welfare Act are very confusing, and to me seem to be just so much “posturing” by politicians and government agencies attempting to make laws about something they know nothing about. (Please read “How Will the NEW USDA Changes Affect YOU?”, by Sara Chisnell in Your Dog, Your Rights.Sara spent many hours researching this matter, and made a valiant attempt to explain what just might be unexplainable.)

Initially, I wondered if the changes might be a knee-jerk response to pressure from animal rights activist groups, but I’m not even sure about that. The changes are confusing, and even the USDA has no clear answers on how they will be enforced. Maybe they are trying to scare us into stop owning, training and breeding dogs? What do you think?