When we “inherited” 13-year-old Maggie after my father’s death, we didn’t know what to expect. We’d never had a dog (as adults), and she was a mix of some unknown breeds, so we didn’t have breed characteristics to help us set our expectations.
But she turned out to be a perfect match for our family. She was laid back, yet affectionate. She’d enthusiastically go on walks, but was also content to sleep in the shade. She was gentle and shy, but she guarded “her” territory quite seriously — making regular rounds and barking to ensure dogs, especially (but also pizza delivery folks and UPS personnel), were warned off our property.
At some point, I began researching the possibility of keeping a cow or goats, and I ran across the concept of a livestock guardian animal. Some people have donkeys or llamas to keep predators away from their livestock, but many use dogs. These dogs don’t herd and they don’t fetch or hunt — they stand watch and protect, taking their job very seriously. One of the breeds that interested me most was the Great Pyrenees (called the Pyrenean Mountain Dog in Europe), a large, white, furry creature bred to protect sheep in the fields of the Pyrenees mountains of France.
The more I read about Great Pyrenees, the more I recognized someone I knew — Maggie. She wasn’t as large as a GP, but she had the shaggy fur and bearing of one of these elegant dogs. She also had the temperament, and a lot of the habits, attributed to purebred Great Pyrenees. You’ll notice I’m talking about her in past tense, and that’s because we lost her to a fever and illness just last week. This was devastating to our whole family.
When Maggie fell ill, I’d already begun researching adopting another dog to keep her company. After she passed away, we visited a shelter to see a dog that was billed as an Anatolian Shepherd (another livestock guardian dog)/Pyrenees mix. He was sweet but way more energetic, and not as friendly, as we thought would fit best into our family. We came to the conclusion that to get the personality traits we’d loved in Maggie, our best bet would be a purebred Great Pyrenees.
And that’s how Honey came to be a part of our family. She’s about 2 months old and she’s won our hearts. We’re even thinking about getting her some livestock to guard, as dogs of this breed are said to be happiest when they have a job to do.
And we want her to be as happy with us as we are with her.