A dog story

Here’s an ASD story for you from about 20 years ago.

Pasha was a neutered female rescue from Phoenix, an Anatolian Shepard Dog (ASD), a livestock guardian breed. We got her when she was approaching a year old, but at the time of this story she would have been middle aged.

My husband had died suddenly and I had decided to get a caretaker to help me out with the horses. I don’t recall exactly how many horses I had at that time, but probably somewhere between a dozen and twenty. With my husband gone, the horse breeding business was just too much, so I wasn’t breeding anymore but I had youngsters to train and sell.

This part of New Mexico has quite a few large predators: wolves, bear, mountain lions, and of course coyotes. ASDs + good fencing had kept most of our foals safe over the years.  After losing our very first foal to a lion when we still lived in CA  we’d had zero losses of foals to predators thanks to our ASDs.

Pasha was our second Anatolian. She was a rescue and we never knew her bloodlines, but we trusted that she would work for us —and she did.

The caretakers I found were a family, a couple with a toddler-aged child. Even though I had advertised that I was looking for someone without animals, the couple came with a burro, a horse, and yes, a dog — a German shepherd cross and a real sweetie. Pasha liked to visit them down at their end of the property. My dog was a well-mannered and welcomed guest in their house.

But you know how Anatolians are. They set their own rules. Pasha was OK with humans coming into what she considered to be her space — my house, the fenced yard, the horse area and their fenced paddocks — but not their dog. The dog was another female, older, and fully devoted to her humans. She felt it her duty to ignore Pasha and to go with her people to feed and care for my horses.

She was so devoted that she went in spite of Pasha’s escalating warnings.

I blame us humans for what happened. I had asked the caretakers a number of times to not let their dog come near Pasha’s territory. They assured me that they were animal-wise and there would be no problem even though Pasha was clearly saying yes, there was a big problem.  I had never backed up my dog.

As I said, you know how ASDs are. One day Pasha decided that enough was enough. She was furious with the caretaker’s dog — who was only doing her duty — and Pasha decided she wasn’t going to tolerate the situation any longer. I was working in my office when I heard the horrible sounds of a dog fight and humans’ helpless screams. Even before I ran outside I understood the issue, and knew the caretaker’s dog was a dead dog if I didn’t act quickly.

I grabbed a wooden chair and a blanket — I can’t tell you the order of things or how exactly it went to this day — but I got the blanket between Pasha’s mouth and the caretaker’s dog, and I used the legs of the chair to make a kind of cage that prevented any further movement on Pasha’s part.

With the fight stopped I ordered the caretakers to take their dog back home. They were already beginning with the accusations but I did’t want to hear them. Once they were out of sight, I uncovered Pasha and dragged her into my house. I made sure she was okay (barely a scratch on her, and she was so proud of herself) and then I went to the caretaker’s place to check on their dog.

Some serious wounds. Huge gaping slashes. Not immediately life threatening but really bad.  I have no doubt that if the fight had gone on for much longer the poor dog would have been a dead dog.

The caretakers were totally distraught. They were angry at Pasha and me, even though  both of us had given lots of warning about allowing their dog to come into Pasha’s space.

But here’s the thing: I felt bad about their dog but she was only doing her job. I admired her for it and pitied her for having humans who were so dense.  Yet it was my property and my property manager, Pasha, had acted within her rights. My bad for not backing up both Pasha and the caretakers’ dog sooner.

The caretakers went down the road. Pasha lived to be an old ASD, always doing her job. One day, years later, I found her laying at the property gate about a quarter mile from my house, unwilling and unable to get up.  That is where she met her end. Pasha is buried close to my house although I think she’d have been happier buried uder where the horses tromp all the time. 

Good dog, Pasha.  An ASD, pure and simple.


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About Lif Strand

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