There are many iconic images associated with farming: a big red barn, the farmer on his tractor or plowing with a team of horses, green pastures and quiet springs. But one of the most important associations between farming imagery and reality is that of the farm dog. Most people imagine that would be a Border collie type breed. There is no doubt that the Border collie fills an important role on many farms across the countryside. There are, however, a number of different agricultural jobs that our canine friends take on for the sake of their keepers.
Here at Mountain Hollow Farm we have two working dogs (brothers) named Hans and Franz. They are a cross between an Anatolian Shepherd and Great Pyrenees, both traditional livestock guardian breeds. Hans and Franz are large, weighing 140 pounds each and have an ideal coat length for both the humid summers and cold winters of southern
Their size and deep, resounding bark helps to discourage predators from preying on the herd. In this area the most common threat is from coyotes. But with Hans and Franz on duty this is no problem at all. Ironically, they were not brought here originally to protect the goats, but the ducks. Ducks can be used in pastures to control parasites, but not if predators keep getting them! So long as the ducks remain in the pasture, they are safe thanks to the guardian dogs.
Hans and Franz are not the only dogs on the farm, however. We also have three resident rescue dogs, all mixed breeds, by the name of Ellie, Fritz, and Daisy. More than anything they fill the role of companion. But it also helps having them nearby when the goat kids are moved into the yard in the spring. Between the barking of dogs and the activity of people coming and going to the house, predators are discouraged.
Dogs have been a part of the lives of man for thousands of years, first as hunting partners then as companions. It is a treat to come to a farm like this where you can see dogs filling multiple roles. It is an ideal setting for both the physical and mental health of the dogs. Being in a natural setting, and working alongside the people who care for them. We are so lucky to have these wonderful creatures by our side!