Tuesday 31 January 2012

Snacks and Supper

We like to feed raw.
However, I am not a dog food fanatic
and  sometimes they just get plain commercial food....

Everydog has its own "style" while eating.
Some hoard,
some guzzel,
some rip,
some stash,
 and some pull funny faces!

Elk legs are great toys!

Fena got the back and ribs.
It is the prize!
She parades away with her supper,
and always goes and eats in the middle of the sheep,
much to the disgust of the ewes.

All the dogs will take turns eating at this,
and will spend days chewing and gnawing away at it!
The dogs are fanatical about chasing the ravens away from this prize!

Food is not just about calories and nutrients.
It is also about having a:
an object of value
it determines status
creates wars
it can be a toy.

It is often the highlight of the day!

Sunday 29 January 2012

Minimal Monday Puppy Update

Here are the pups again.
They are now walking, eyes are open, they growl and have started eating.
They are doing great.

The boys:

The girls:

All ten:


Saturday 28 January 2012

Colours of the sarplaninac

 With the litter we have at the moment,
 I am getting a few questions about colour and particularly what colour these pups will be.
It is really difficult to say exactly what colour they will be
(except when they are born white, they stay white...).

How grey they will end up is hard to say,
when the pups are born,
they are dark,
they then lighten up (even the dark ones) to  blond,
and then after that get darker again.

The United Kennel Club has the following to state about the colour of the coat:
All solid colors are acceptable from white to a very dark brown that is nearly black. The most common color is an iron gray. The color may vary from a darker shade on the top of the head, neck, and body, to a lighter shade toward the extremities, but the change must be very gradual so as not to give the impression of spots or patches of color. The hairs of the outer coat may be tipped in black resulting in a sable color pattern. Tiny white markings on the chest and toes are allowed but not desirable.

Here are some examples of the various colours:

Traditional colour is the iron grey or otherwise called Murdjo:
Katcha, Vuk and  Alaska are examples of the darker grey colour.



Some sarplaninac's end up a lighter shade of grey.
These are very blended in colour.
Our Fena and Lucy are good examples of the lighter shades of grey.



Going from this lighter shade, we get into the Karabash colours.
Some of the end  hairs are black tipped giving a sabled appearance.
These are dogs generally have a blond body and a black (ish) mask,
but here too some can be more blond than others.
Tosoxs is a karabash.
The completely white sarplaninac is fairly rare, these are referred to as Merdjan
Beli, Snowy and Molly are Merdjan. 
There are other colours that are not as well known,
some breeders regard them as unacceptable or inferior.
I do not have these concerns.
This dog is not mine,
he is Vuk from Parker Adams,
this colour is referred to as
Sari or ridji which means rusty.

Vuk ~ Parker Adams, USA
Some sarplaninac are completely black, but I do not have a photo of one.
Too me, the colour is not really of importance,
a good horse or dog does not have a bad colour.

What I regard the most important qualities are
is  what the breed standard states here:
The Sarplaninac should be evaluated as a working livestock guardian capable of protecting stock in mountainous terrain, and exaggerations or faults should be penalized in proportion to how much they interfere with the dog’s ability to work.

Despite being slightly smaller than many other livestock guarding breeds, the Sarplaninac is characterized by extraordinary strength and large teeth, making it a formidable adversary of predatory animals. This breed has a typical livestock guarding temperament: highly intelligent and independent; devoted to family members and wary of strangers; calm and steady but fearless and quick to react to perceived threats.


Friday 27 January 2012

At times, this is how I feel..

After lambing at temperatures  between -30 and -40,
staying up a large portion of the night and then working all day,
everything becomes a bit of a blur.

And this,
and the lack of sleep
kind of messes with your head..

 Now that lambing is done (for this round),
and I can sleep again.
Things just seem way more in focus again!

Thursday 26 January 2012


This article appeared in the Alberta Farmer Express as well as the Manitoba Co Operator.
Last year I gave a talk at the Alberta Sheep Breeders Symposium about raising Livetsock Guardian Dogs.

Click HERE to read the article.

I believe that a lot of good dogs are wasted due to too little effort from the owner.
Somehow, some ranchers feel that these dogs should "just do it",
(even well bred stock/herding dogs need training..)
When the dog has been neglected for months,
has never had to learn anything ever,
 and then,
one day starts playing with lambs,
thats when the poor dog gets shot....
and the owner goes and looks for his next dog.

Monday 23 January 2012

We call her angelic...

Snowy is really such a perfect dog,
I am usually  honest to a fault  about my dogs,
however Snowy really has no faults!
(Ok, she could be a bit faster and slightly more energetic at times)

Here is a short list of her qualities:
  • she has never, ever chased sheep, been naughty, chewed ears or anything of that nature.
  • she was easy to raise
  • she is actually pretty obedient
  • she is always calm and composed
  • she is alert and loves to hunt down coyotes
  • she is sweet and well natured
  • she gets on with all the other guardian dogs
  • she gets on with collies
  • she is a great mother
  • she is pretty
  • she is tolerant
  • she likes to travel on the John Deere gator
  • she never jumps fences, crawls under or sneaks out of gates.
So, now you can see why we think of her as being angelic!

To prove this point, look at these pictures.
Ten days ago she had a litter of 10 pups.
She is protective of them,
however she will allow the newborn lambs to come and visit:

While the lamb is visiting she will clean its butt.

She would not like to send it back to it's mother with a dirty behind.

She is just that kind of dog!

Meet the puppies

The pups, all 10 of them are doing great.
They are growing like weeds and have more than tripled their birth weight.
As always,
Snowy is a perfect dog, mother, friend and guardian..
more about her tomorrow (or the day after..)

Here are all 10:
 (Remember that the colour is a bit off due to the heat lamp, flash and other camera properties... they all look a bit darker in real life.)

Female 1, grey                 Female 2, karabash

 Female 3, grey                 Female 4, karabash

 Female 5, karabash

All 5 girls:

Male 1, karabash                           Male 2, grey             

Male 3, karabash                        Male 4, grey

 Male 5, Karabash

All 5 boys:

The pups are now 10 days old, their eyes are starting to open.

Sunday 22 January 2012

Hectic, busy and cold

This last week has been rough to say the least.
We are almost done lambing for this group.
With really brutally cold weather we have been working around the clock to ensure the lambs are warm and well.
This has not left me much time to blog.
I am sorry,
I have not forgotten about you..
This is what has kept us busy:

Don't let this quiet scene fool you,
it was -26C when this picture was taken,
I am sleep deprived,
and my camera froze up soon after this picture.

Next week, should be better as we are down to the last 5 ewes.
In 6 weeks time,
we start again,
for round 2 of lambing.

Tuesday 17 January 2012

You know it is cold when...

the ice crystals are hanging on your lips!
Hey, Beli, cold eh?

Sometimes, we need to follow the example of Katcha.
Find a few extra bed companions,
get under the wool,
place your nose under your tail
and  hunker down.

Not quite as snug as Katcha, but Fena and Molly have got the same idea.

These fridgid temerpatures definatly encourage close bonding behaviour.
Even though the bulls are not the "snugly" kind,
Vuk and Beli will bed down with them.

The bulls really seem to like the company of the dogs.
Then, again ANY body contributing to communal body heat is welcome!

Keep warm!
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