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Working Dogs – Farm To Fork Wyoming


Your support helps us bring you programs you love. Go to WyomingPBS.org, click on support and become a sustaining
member or an annual member. It■s easy and secure. Thank you. – As that habitat fills, and there’s no more food
source for those coyotes that are coming here. [Spiritual Music] – I have this great personal
respect for my dogs. Here you have a
very large animal that is willing to
fight to the death to save a weaker species. [Sheep Baas] – This takes a lot
of understanding of how their mind
operates you know. – There’s two
different instincts. There’s the chase
and just don’t care if you make a mess,
and then there’s the border collie that
wants to gather the cattle, wants to control’em. – They’re just really versatile. – They’re descendants of wolves, and the young dogs used to
go get the herds stopped, and then bring’m
back to the old dogs. – [Female Narrator]
Working dogs. On this Farm to Fork Wyoming. (Spiritual Music) – [Male Narrator]
Funding for this program was provided by the members
of the WyomingPBS Foundation. Thank you for your support. (sheep baaing) – [Female Narrator] On
Wyoming’s open range lands, the working dog is as important to the rancher as
the livestock itself. – Yeah, if it wasn’t
for the guard dogs, we wouldn’t have sheep here. Today. Period. The wolves are here,
the coyotes are here, and it’s prolific
coyote country. [Suspenseful Music] And so our guard dogs
are the only real line of defense that we have. Being the last guy in town with sheep is really a problem. (Herd Baaing) – [Female Narrator]
The keeping of flocks and herds has
always been tenuous, but made easier through
our ancient relationship with the dog. – I don’t think that
anyone really has any idea how long livestock guardian dogs have been used around the world. There is art that indicates that there’s probably six to
8,000 years old, so we know that guard dogs have been used to guard livestock since then. There use is very widespread. It’s everything from
domestic turkeys and chickens all the way up
through sheep, goats, cattle. They’re actually used
with water buffalo. They’re used all over the globe. (Sheep Baaing) – [Female Narrator] And
there’s another ally on the open range who
gathers and herds. – They are a tool to us,
they are also a moon, obviously companions
too, but we couldn’t do our work without’m. We have lot of brush, and bogs, and areas we can’t get
into that our dogs can to help us. – They’re always eager to come. Sometimes the kids
aren’t as eager to come. (Laughter) Stuff like that.
– They’re good employees. – Yeah, they’re great.
(Beth laughs) – Where we’re
working with the BLM in this case the Four Service on public lands utilizing
these grazing permits you have to have dogs
and horses in my opinion. It’s just something a
guy could do on an ATV. The bigger range operations, cows are essentially
free to roam up to 40,000 acres
of the forest. That is a pretty good
amount of land to cover. – [Female Narrator] These
ranchers and their dogs share a bond that was forged
in a boundless landscape. – [Cat] The transhumance
method of moving with livestock by the seasons was the historic
way of doing things. And then we had variant
types of governance whether it was
communist government or what wanting to
take the free people off the landscape and
have control of them. [Uneasy Music] We know that that happened a lot in the former soviet
republic countries. In Europe where they
collectivized farms, where they brought
all of the livestock in and actually
bulldozed villages and had people move into
more populated areas so that they were more
easily controlled. So we lost a lot of that
traditional migratory culture. But even where it’s been lost, there was always
some that hung on. Whether it’s the
bedouin or what. There have always
been migratory people. People move with
their livestock, and with their
livestock guardian dogs. – [Female Narrative] It’s
an intricate inner play between man and
the animal world. – [Cat] We talk about
the relationship between like myself and my guard dogs, but my guard dogs
have relationships with all of these
other animals as well. They have the relationship
with the entire flock as a whole, and then
they have relationships with the individual
animals in that flock. – Guardian dogs
are there own dogs. They like you, they
love their sheep. – [Cat] Sheep are a
highly social animals, and some of them will
develop a real affection for certain guard dogs,
and the guard dogs will feel the same
way about the sheep, and they will actually seek
out those individual sheep, and those sheep will stand and have their faces
licked by the dogs. – [Female Narrator] And
where herders must keep track of the sheep, these
guardian dogs make that job easier as well. – There’s an important
animal to count as the sheep. See the red sheep? Okay, they count those
red sheep every morning. There’s about 1 to 50. They can make a fast
count on those red sheep, then they know if they’re
missing any sheep. These dogs will stay
behind with a sick animal. And so if they’re missing a dog, they know that they
got something outlying away from the herd. And then the dogs will
hear’em come to feed, they’ll come and then
go back to that animal that just follow back. We’ve had a lot less
loss because of it. ‘Cause they won’t turn
loose of a sick one, or anything that strayed off. If there’s a coyote kill,
they’ll guard the kill. They’ll sit on that dead ewe. – And it’s like so then
when I look at the lamb, and it’s like well ‘Thanks guys, but we can’t do
anything for this one.’ Then they’ll take
him off and eat’m. – Just as they
have relationships, my dogs know the
wolves, and the bears, and the moose, and
everything else that share the same
range with them. They come in contact
with each other on a regular basis,
so just as I can see and recognize that oh
this cow, moose, and calf have been here for so
long, my guard dogs are the ones that see
them more often than I do. Those guard dogs have individual relationships there as well. – They know what is a threat,
they know what’s not a threat. We have skunks around
here and stuff, and they’re like, “They’re
not gonna hurt my sheep.” Then coyote comes
along, and he’s gone. Or a badger, or you know, defend against the wolves
and the bears. [Spiritual Music] – I tend to look at guard dogs in terms of whether
they’re softer dogs or harder dogs, and softer
dogs are just not quite as aggressive, they’re
more easy to handle. Things like that. And I think that the
Great Pyrenees dog is a perfect example
of a soft dog. If you’ve ever met
a Great Pyrenees dog they’re just the most
lovely animals to be with. Once wolves really
moved into our area, and we started having
a lot of wolf problems, that changed the process for us and what we needed from a dog. – We try to run three
breeds in a herd. The brown dogs are
like these scout dogs. They’ll be out three
miles off this herd. Okay? The heavier white dogs
stay closer into the herds. Especially the long haired
dogs cause they heat up, get too hot. And then we have that
smooth haired line, and they’re not as rangy, what I call rangy,
they don’t cover as big as area as these browns. Those working dogs
will pick a fight. They’ll go out and pick a fight with the coyotes, then
these guys come in, and take care of business. They’ll finish the fight. Fight starts, they’ll
finish the fight. These dogs’ll take on a bear, they’ll take on a coyote, they’ll go out and look for
anything that’s trouble. It takes us a week to ten days to police out an area, so we’ll pull in,
cause we’re migratory, so we’ll pull in, we stop. It’ll take those brown dogs and those smooth
haired white dogs about a week to find
all the carrion- all the dead in the area. Okay, cause that’s the
easiest food source in the country, see and
that’s what coyotes like. Coyotes are, well they’re opportunistic,
and so they take whatever is the easiest food
source out there. These dogs will come in and replace the canine
factor in the ecosystem. They’ll police the area,
and move the coyotes away. First hostile action we have usually is enough
to drive them away. And once we get that done, then we have peace
in the valley. They go their way,
we go our way. We don’t know what we’re
gonna have with these wolves ’cause they are not going to, I don’t think, shy away as
easy as these coyotes do. – When wolves come
down, and are trying to come into the
sheep, we have had so many actual
battles between wolves and our guard dogs, and
there are many times that the dogs can
just bark, and chase, and be aggressive, and
make the wolves go away, but sometimes those
wolves come into our herd, or try to get into our flock, and it is a full on brawl
between the dogs and wolves. We have had so many
guard dogs tore up, and we’ve had several
guard dogs killed, and that is a heartbreaking,
heartbreaking thing. Besides being an
actual emergency that we have to deal
with on the ground because those guard dogs
are our single best defense against wolves, you know,
they are the first thing that the wolves are
going to encounter, and they are out
there with the sheep all of the time, and it’s
a pretty difficult thing to go through. – It’s gonna take a
multitude of animals. We have wolves here
now, and they’re back up in that mountain range,
and they come out in here once we leave,
so we still have a deterrent factor. Our dogs are enough that, you know, it’s like leaving the
lights on in your house. The thief is gonna
come to your house and see the lights
on, and they’re gonna go to the next house
where there’s no lights. That’s what’s going on right now is we have a deterrent. It’s out here. So they don’t come to us. – Livestock guardians
work because there are thousands of
years of breeding and selection for that
guardian behavior. We used mainly Akbash, which is a large white
breed from Turkey, and then we also use
Central Asian Ovcharkas from Central Asia. We really like crossing
those two breeds in the natural breeding system that we have here. – And that happens a lot
in the guard dog business. You end up with somebody
else’s dogs staying up with some of your
dogs, it’s kind of a touch and go deal.
(laughing) It’s kinda how it works, but they’re rangy, in our environment they’re hard
to keep with your own bunch, you know, cause when we
get on the winter ranges, there’s thirty-five,
forty thousand head of sheep down
there, 8 companies, 9 companies, and so we all have our own dogs, then
we’re back and forth trying to catch’em,
so what we’ve learned is we need someone
like Cat who can make these dogs easy to catch.
(Cat Laughs) – Hello.
Hello We don’t really
do much training. It really is natural instinct, but we try to do
– -come on puppies! Is influence some
– -come on of that behavior. Livestock guardian dogs are by their nature very
independent decision makers. They will decide
what a threat is, and how to react to that threat. Hi Panda! Well what
we try to do is from the time
they’re very young, we try to socialize them, or acclimate them to
things that we expect that they will encounter
later on in life, so they will not be
afraid of those things. We try to ride
bicycles around them, we ride motorcycles,
snow machines, we have draft horse teams, men on horseback. Just a lot of different
things they have to know. They have to come
when they’re called, or when I whistle, they
have to know the command, “Go to the sheep.” So all good things happen
while they’re with the sheep. Here comes Harriet the Horrible. (Cat laughs) Harriet, come here! How are you this morning? – Initially we didn’t
humanize them at all. Human habituate them at all, and so we couldn’t
get them caught when we need them,
but now we can catch almost every dog we have. – [Female Narrator] The
herd dogs look predatory when herding sheep. Guardian dogs
understand their place. – [Cat] We rarely
ever have conflicts between the guard
dogs and herding dogs. (Whistles)
Good boy. (inaudible) – [Jeanne] With
the Border Collies, they have a relationship, they know that
the Border Collies are there to move the sheep. – I mean, there has to
be a human supervision, and someone talking
to those dogs to let them know that, “No,
they’re allowed to be here.” It’s not like some stranger, or even a friend could come in with their herding
dogs and work our sheep without having our
guard dogs trying to take those dogs out. – If the dog is in
a good work ethic, a nice calm, going
to be kind, kind as a sheep, I’ve had
Creatus run out there and just flatten’em. (Jeanne laughs)
He just like holds them down, and he’s like, “Be
nice to my sheep, or you’re not going to
get to work my sheep.” – [Jess] The Border Collies
have a unique breeding because they bred them
for 400 years in Scotland. – [Jeanne] The dogs
that weren’t any good didn’t make it, you know,
they were called out. – [Pete] They’re naturals at it, so it just makes your
job so much easier if the dogs a natural. They have natural abilities. – [Jess] Collies were initially really renoun for
being sheep dogs. Relatively, it
kind of a new thing was adapting them to cattle.
Lie down. Because cattle are quiet a
little different than sheep, and the old argument
with Border Collies is that they don’t
have enough power to be on a cow, you
know, a Heeler might go in there and
rip’n’tear a little more. (whistles)
– [Jeanne] The instinct of the border collie
is to gather to you. A bitable will gather
to you on his own, but if you tell him
say, “Go over here to nine o’clock”, and
pull him that way, he’ll do that and
come behind you. Push him away from
you, he’ll do that. It’s just a dog that
is willing to listen to you, and override
his natural instinct, and that is what makes
him so easy to train. – They’re just really versatile. – [Mike] They’re
descendants of wolves, and the young dogs
used to go fetch, or get the herds stopped,
then bring them back to the old dogs. You’re the alpha person
that they’re trying to please, so they’ll
go ’round naturally to them to the
front of the stock. Their real, real
strength is fetchin’ to ya, or bringing’em to ya. We take that away from them
a lot out here drivin’. – The one thing that
we work on a lot is being fair to
the cattle ’cause that’s really important.
– [Mike] Gotta have a relationship between
the cow and the dog, and really if the cow
is walking away leavin’, then the dog should
give the cow distance, and have that respect. Where as if that dog goes
in and cheap shots him, and gets her stirred up
and she was leavin’ anyway then you got issues. You’re not respecting
your cattle. It all comes down to
respect of the cattle. They have a lot going on. Cow-calf pairs are
really the college work of the Border Collies. The cow is trying
to protect her calf, these dogs stir up the
predator instincts in them. So you end up in some
battles with young dogs. ‘Cause trying to
get that distance, some of these old dogs
would be walkin’ along, looking at cattle, and you
don’t even know they’re working. Yet, they’re moving along,
the cows are leaving, everybody’s going along, and they’ll be real
loose eyed about it and stuff, but
they’re all business, and they’re working those cows. – [Female Narrator] Some
ranchers mix these breeds to suit their circumstances. – [Pete] We have a
hanging tree collie line, okay, pretty famous
line, working dog line. Then we have a Mcnab line. Mcnab line is a Scottish
breed, it’s a herding dog. This is a cross on a
collie dog with a Mcnab. They’re pretty good.
They’re not barkers. But we have a Bearded Collie. We prefer the Bearded Collie, but we can’t hardly
hold the strain, they don’t breed very well. We prefer a Bearded Collie
because they’re barkers. They bark.
And so, we don’t like the borders as
much because they have to go sheep to sheep
to sheep to sheep to get them to move, but
these Bearded Collies will get out and bark,
and gather the herd in these big areas, and
they’re a lot more resistant. They’ll make the trail. See, we’re 175
mile walk one way, so these borders will
wear their foot pads out. They don’t hold up as well on the long distances as
well as the Bearded Collie. They’re a trailing
dog, they’re a dog that was used to move place to place. The borders are work on a farm, close in okay? The Mcnabs have been good, they’re really tough, and
we’re looking for tough. We’re looking for
tough guard dogs, (laughing)
tough working dogs ’cause this walk is what getcha. You gotta get something that
really can make the walk. It’s okay.
This is a Blue Merle, and it’s got Collie,
but it’s father was a Beardie. I saved her cause she’s
such a pretty dog, and she’s really smart. – And we have thought that
as Border Collie breeders, we wanna breed for brains. Intelligent working
capabilities. – Some dog that’ll go out and watch a cow and work. – [Female Narrator]
Some fear that as working breeds
become standardized, their working abilities
will be bred out of them. – [Jeanne] There’s a lot of dogs being bred that aren’t working, that they’re being
bred because they are personable dogs,
they’re wonderful dogs, but we’re getting a
little delusion there away from the actual
working, you know, good dogs. – [Jess] Trainers
they’ve fought the AKC again involved with the breed because they’re
worried they’ll show’em for show like the
big white collars. And a big dog maybe,
and then pretty soon the dogs aren’t working,
and you have problems getting the breed,
getting that back to working dogs because they
lose somethin’ along the way. – Another thing we’ve kinda seen in the last few years
is the end dogs, the hot dogs, you know as far as this dogs winnin’ everything, so well let’s breed to him, well all of a sudden
you’ve got 500 of these bloodlines out there, that’s a pretty,
pretty big chunk of our genetic pool
that all of a sudden we’ve just, you know,
they’re all that. – And you know, you
see these dog trials, and they put sheep in the pen, and do all of these things, and they go way out you
know, 1500 yards, 1000 yards, and you can still talk to’em. That saves that man a
lot of steps, right. These fellas here,
we don’t have a line of dogs to do that,
we have a line of dogs that will go out
about 300 yards, and do what you
want and come back. And that’s okay, that’s okay. Those long distance
dogs get real, they’re real busy,
they wanna be busy, and so they start doing
things on their own without supervision
because they want to be doing something,
so you’ll see in a lot of these
camps that have those high powered dogs,
they’ll have the dog chained because they can’t leave them without them being here.
These guys, these guys, (baaing)
Well you can see. They’re in the middle,
they’re not lazy, but they’re not really
super ambitious either. – [Jeanne] It’s cool to be able to find these dogs that
are out on the ranches that are doing
the work everyday, and to me that’s
really neat to be able to bring that bloodline in. It may be something
totally unknown. – I’m not gonna spend
$5,000 for a dog that can go out there,
and you can whistle at. You know, I’ll
raise my own dogs. These dogs will come from- We had one dog jumped
out of a pickup truck and came 44-miles
on his own back. I raised my own line of horses. I’ve had them come 110-miles, cross an interstate
and railroad track, and show up here to
where they were birthed. These animals make these
trails up and down. They know, those
guard dogs know. I’ve had these guard
dogs have puppies, and bring their
puppies back 35-miles. – Different countries
and different dog experts will tell ya, dozens and
dozens of these breeds, but if you look at the
way they traditionally been used across
Central Asia and Europe, I guess I’m not so
concerned with trying to define breeds
because, you know, I look at’em as
more as land races that these were dogs,
that these were sheep, and cattle, and goats that
moved the migratory systems along the Silk
Road for instance. And so you have different people that are moving with
their animals there that have different
kinds of dogs, and they would actively
trade and sell those dogs, and so you’ll have dogs
that are of a certain type and a certain location, but
that’s how breeds came about. The breeds are really the world of putting a pen to paper, and this is defining
what this breed is, and I think that
there’s a huge variation out there across the landscape. – Say that’s
something I think we do need to be aware
of so we don’t go the way of the AKC, you know, more pretty,
less performance oriented, and more genetically
locked down. – The working dog thing
of the guard dog thing has been a quantum leap for us. Buy yeah, if we’re successful, everything works here. It’s all about this
migratory movement thing. We’re the last of this deal, and the most important thing
that I have is the knowledge. – We have active programs
in place around the world, various countries do
to try to get people back into the
transhumance system. And Spain for instance,
has a very active program. Italy is very much
encouraging and supporting the use of that
system if you want a good food production
system, and security, you don’t want to
have everything
clustered in one area. And so they know that
the livestock are able to use landscapes that
are not appropriate for farming.
(inspiring music) – [[Female Narrator] Farm To
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9 Comments

  1. Robert Queberg Author

    We have done to our dogs, the same thing that we have done to a couple generations of our children. They are now too pretty and too far removed from the land and its animals. When the lights go out around the world for whatever reason our younger people will starve with their cell phone or laptop.
    I see kids walk past their dogs when they return home, with no understanding. When I or my wife come into the house after being gone, we are greeted at the back door by Betty and Bovie. They always get a good scratching and kind words.
    This is a great video that lots of people should see. Especially those that think their food comes from a grocery store across town.

    Reply
  2. James Burke Author

    Hello Gd evening I'm curious here does any of these ranches need any extra ranch hands to help them protect their livestock from the wolves and other animals out there I'm interested in checking it out here

    Reply
  3. David S Author

    We learned growing up that Armenian dog Gampr was on the Arch with Noah, they’re all in Armenian history, in the most ancient stories, on scrolls and cave carvings, in thousands of places just as we manuscripts and other ancient artifacts, we have livestock guardian dogs in our entire history…
    They’re well known by names in stories, my favorite are Zangi and Zrangi two giant Gamprs of the prince, in the story of Ara The Handsome and Assyrian Queen Semiramis, who was in love with the Armenian prince Ara the great great grandson of Noah Ara the Handsome who was engaged to Anahit, he was the son of Hayk the Armenian Patriarch, who we are called after Hayk—-Hayastan/Armenia, he’s Forth from Noah’s son Japheth, Hayk is our Armenian forefather who killed nimrod the mighty hunter in front of the Lord, and Hayk freed Armenians from Assyrian rule at the Tower of Babel, when all nations and tongues got separated by God.
    My apologies, this is the shortest version I’m able to tell, it’s such a big history 🙂

    Reply

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