This cute little fluffball is Sgt. Pepper, Good Life Ranch’s newest livestock guardian dog (LGD). Lindsey’s parents, Ronnie and Jake, had given us some money to buy some young LGD pups for Christmas. This is pup #1!
No, Maggie is not being replaced. She is doing a tremendous job! But she is between 7 and 8 years old and it takes 18-24 months to get a LGD trained and working at full capacity. So now is the time to start training a replacement if we want Maggie to be able to retire before she hits double digits in age. We wanted to get 2 young puppies (a male and female so that we won’t have to buy a LGD again, as well as hopefully make a little bit of money to pay for their food eventually) and allow Maggie to train them how to be good guardians. Then, once the younger generation is trustworthy and working at full capacity, Maggie will be able to retire to a smaller area with some geese or pygmy goats or something.
We got Sgt. Pepper from a family near Campbellsville. The parents of the litter of 9 puppies were on the premises and were guarding a small flock of goats in addition to raising their litter of puppies. The parents were alert but very friendly, even with strangers. There were 4 puppies still there – 2 males and 2 females. We chose the puppy that seemed the most confident and willing to explore the paddock. He was also a little bit bigger than the others, but that was not as important to us as his personality and self-confidence. Right now he weighs around 12 pounds and will be 9 weeks old tomorrow.
On the way home we decided that we would call him Sgt. Pepper. Lindsey also wants a llama named General Fierceness, so apparently she is a fan of military ranks. The Beatles theme for our LGDs could be fun – Sgt. Pepper and Maggie Mae could have friends named JoJo, Jude, Desmond, Eleanor, Michelle, Maxwell, Mr. Kite, Paperback Writer, Prudence, Lucy, Lady Madonna, Rocky, John, and Yoko. I’m also pretty sure I’ve missed many of the names in their more obscure songs, but you get the idea!
We also stopped off at one of our Amish neighbor’s and got a well-made doghouse so that Sgt. Pepper could get away from the goats if they try to play too rough while he’s still little. Before we move the goats next I’ll put some wheels and handles on the doghouse so we can move it around the pasture with the goat shelter and Sgt. Pepper and Maggie will have a place of their own that the goats can’t enter. We also learned that his parents live just half an hour or so away from my parents in Arkansas. Small world!
Here are some shots of Sgt. Pepper’s first day at Good Life Ranch.
Once we got back home, we put some straw in the doghouse so that Sgt. Pepper could make himself a little nest. Then we put him inside the doghouse and put it inside the next goat paddock. We then proceeded to build the goat paddock around the doghouse with him in it. Our thought was that the goats are usually distracted by the fresh grass for a while after a paddock shift and would therefore notice the puppy one at a time over a period of time rather than him being the only new thing in their world. For the most part, it worked.
After building the new paddock and moving Maggie and the goats into it, we took care that Sgt. Pepper and Maggie had a good first meeting. Maggie sniffed the entrance of the doghouse and then went around the paddock doing her usual marking and scraping to define her territory. Coyotes beware! After she finished that, we took Sgt. Pepper out of his house and let them introduce themselves. Maggie sniffed him a little but was far more interested in getting attention from us. Sgt. Pepper followed her around a little and explored the paddock on his own a little. I took him across the paddock to make sure he could find his way back to his doghouse, and he was successful! He only needed a little break in the goat shelter at the halfway point.
The only negative was the boss goat, Miss Priss. She head-butts all the other goats all the time, and she did that with Sgt. Pepper once, too. He squealed but wasn’t hurt. I was also encouraged that he didn’t run away from her after that either. We’ll just have to keep an eye on that situation over the next couple days. Sgt. Pepper has the doghouse he can retreat too, but if Priss doesn’t leave him be then we’ll put Sgt. Pepper in a smaller area with just Nadine and Roja so he can bond to goats without any danger of getting head-butted.
All in all, Sgt. Pepper had a big day. He got his shots and de-wormer, had a nice truck ride in Lindsey’s lap, threw up a little from car sickness (luckily not in Lindsey’s lap), got a new house, pooped in the bed of the truck, met Maggie the mentor, stood up to Priss the goat, and fell sound asleep in the house before dark.
He’s very cute!