The Waiting Game

We are anxiously awaiting the newest additions at Tower Ranch. According to the x-ray 8 Maremma puppies are due any minute…

Can you find all 8 puppies?
Can you find all 8 puppies?

Part of a Livestock Guardians job is to keep their charges where they are supposed to be. They don’t herd the animals, I can’t ask them to move the sheep from point A to point B, but they will block the gates or any other escape routes with their bodies to keep the sheep from going outside of their designated area. Of course, this means that Al will also block Mia, even if she’s attached to me via a leash, so she can’t leave the pasture either. So in order to take her to the vet I have to pull the car into the pasture, load her up, and he will then let the car leave because the car doesn’t belong there anyway. (Silly but true)

The sheep know that food comes in the little blue car so they sorta stalk me as I’m pulling in. This kind of attention can be a little creepy sometimes, I start to feel like they are using their “cute” to lull me into a false sense of safety so they can mob me when I least expect it.

Got treats?

I’m sure they are harmless enough, or so it would seem, but I am ever vigilant.

Mia’s gets her own space inside the barn, no chickens, sheep, or even Al, can get into her “den”. She’s about as friendly as an angry bear to any 4 legged visitors, so for their safety we keep them away. She has attacked Al just for being in the doorway of the barn but luckily poor Al has learned to take it all in stride and prefers to retreat rather than fight back.

Al will be a team of one for a few weeks until Mia lets the puppies out into general population. She can be very fierce and Al is smart enough to keep his distance from the pups until she gives her consent. After that it’s game on! He loves to play with the little ones and is a great teacher.

Poor Al is a bachelor
Poor Al is a bachelor

Mia is carrying her load with all the grace and dignity that befits her Princess status. But when she lets it all hang out you can really see just how big she is getting.  She sits with her legs spread and lets her belly sag onto the floor.

Mia's puppy belly drags the ground
Mia’s puppy belly drags the ground

Although not in labor yet, the heat of the day was too much so Mia was staying on the cold cement floor. She didn’t even want to get up to go outside.

Mia doesn't want to get up.
Mia doesn’t want to get up.

If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em. I got down on Mia’s level to give her some attention. She always likes to be touched, but this week she really just wants someone to be with her 24/7.

On the floor with Mia
Selfie with Mia

Mia doesn’t like to be alone and I don’t like to miss out on new babies so I generally live in the barn until babies are nursing on their own. Sleeping on the cold cement floor, or spending 12 hours or more in a camp chair, can leave my back a little bent and broken. Hubby found me a new chair and delivered it to the barn with a full cooler to help me be comfortable through the night watch.

Hubby brings me supplies.
Hubby brings me supplies.

We took a stroll this morning so Mia could do her business and stretch her legs. She looked so content to watch her sheep for a few minutes. Her big belly prevented her from laying down so it was a quick break and then back in to her den.

We interrupt this stroll to watch our sheep
We interrupt this stroll to watch our sheep

Mia is usually an athletic- high energy dog who’s motto is “why walk when you can run!” So it seems extra strange to see her walking gingerly under the weight of her extra heavy load. But don’t let the pictures fool you, moments before this shot she was all business. Al saw something and alarm barked so Mia took off like a shot to back him up. It turned out to be nothing so she left him to it and headed in to the barn.

Mia is slow but steady with her heavy load
Mia is slow but steady with her heavy load

My guess is active labor will start later today or sometime tomorrow. Hopefully she won’t test my patience (or lack thereof) like the sheep did.


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