We first moved here in search of a more relaxed place for our horses. The property was more secluded and we decided that we also wanted a few chickens for fresh eggs. Now, my wife, "The Horse Lady," sometimes also referred to as Dr. Dolittle, doesn't like to kill anything, except maybe a water moccasin who has stationed himself where he shouldn't be. She specifically wanted layer hens with no plan to turn them into fried chicken. And I must admit, compared to the rubbery store bought things that many market as eggs, fresh country eggs can't be beat. We allow many to free range since we have fencing in a large enough area to contain them. They'll sometimes cross over and then sit on the fence but they always head home to their roosting area but not caged as darkness nears.
But, and this is a big but, we didn't count on coyotes and coyotes are in abundance in these parts and most of the dogs we had early on were not of the variety that would take one on. It wasn't because they were fearful, but because they all were nighttime indoor dogs. By the time we awoke to get them out the door, the damage was already done. Coyotes can be quite quiet and cunning as they identify their prey and, as a result, we also had some chickens slaughtered right in their protective hen house. The free range variety that never wanted to come to the coop could no longer be allowed to run unfettered and the resultant quality of eggs was degraded. It's living proof that all things like to be free.
So, we then searched for a viable solution but weren't sure what would work. Donkeys would work in the pasture, but we didn't want them around our ponies; sometimes they get carried away and overly aggressive and we wanted none of that. Finally, however, the solution arrived and I had no idea it was coming. It came in the form of a Valentine's Day gift from "The Horse Lady." This living gift had just been weaned from his mother and he was one of the cutest big dogs you've ever seen (picture below). And so we named him Valentino, Val for short, in honor of the occasion and like all Valentines, he captured both of our hearts.
When "The Horse Lady" saw my smile, she quickly said in matter-of-fact fashion, "I'm glad you like him because his younger half-brother will be joining us in about six weeks when he is weaned."
So, that was it. My Valentine's gift was actually for her or at least one was. But, then again, I couldn't think of a better idea with the situation we faced. Besides, what's another mouth to feed when you live with the animal lover supreme?
Well, little brother arrived right on schedule and was named Salvador, Sal for short, and when Val saw him, he gave us a disgusted look and just went behind the garage. He was disappointed that he would no longer be the center of attention.
Now these two are grown, little brother Sal is the larger of the two, and with Molly our jack rat terrier, they roam the fence line like soldiers on guard duty. No, that's not right, like a police patrol. And last night, when a pack of hungry coyotes was roaming the woods around and near us, Val and Sal did their job. They would station themselves at opposite ends of the fenced in area and move to and fro as required. If a coyote approached the fence, their kind and loving countenance quickly changed to that of a large wolf, snarling and drooling with the best of them. And little Molly, a typical terrier, was running about like a spotter letting them know where to move next.
Other than being huge, what's the secret to these big fellows and their success? They are night owls, it's just in their DNA. As late afternoon comes, they come alive and stay that way until they see us come out in the morning. And they are the most loving dogs we've ever seen, as long as they know you. Even then, they are very cautious, just standing by silently until they see what is going to play out. God surely knew what he was doing when he created the Great Pyrenees. Loyal and true, they are as good a friend as one could ever ask for. And I'm so glad that "The Horse Lady" brought them into our lives.
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