Lambs and Dogs

 

A few Saturdays ago the first of the sheep went into labor, and as usual it happened late at night right before bed.  You always want to be present when an animal gives birth but when the clock hit 1AM and the ewe was still groaning and shifting with nothing to show for it, I went inside to sleep. The following morning after breakfast it was back to the barn to see (hopefully) a happy mom and a few new lambs.  Walking up to barn seemed strange though, it was unusually quiet and there were no baby animal sounds like I was expecting.  Instead, I saw a huge fresh hole dug underneath the door to the lambing stall and a bunch of bedding hay pulled out.  In such situations the following thoughts will run through your head:  “Something got into the barnyard and killed the new lambs…or maybe all the sheep!  No, the livestock dogs wouldn’t have allowed that to happen. But maybe they’re the ones who did it. They killed the lambs they were supposed to protect, now I’m gonna kill them!”

It was a relief to finally look inside and see a tired ewe and two new lambs nursing away.  I was so fixated on watching them that I almost didn’t notice one of the dogs poking its head through the hole under the door.

Then it all made sense.  While the ewe was giving birth, her screams of pain must have driven the dogs insane.  Unable to reach her in the closed stall, the Pyrenees heroically dug a massive hole to rescue their friend but upon finding no predator, they instead sat, watched, and guarded.  Good dogs!  Their protective instinct continues to amaze.

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