Shy Valley Plant Farm

Native Plants, Herbs, and Heirloom Vegetable Plants

Since 2001

Also Featuring Pottery by Philip Shivell  

 

Our Karakachan Dogs HAVE BEEN SOLD.  Thank you and best of luck to Vikki Caldwell of Raindrop Farm in Fancy Gap, Virginia.  Enjoy photos of Mira and Bella- who are greatly missed.  An update:  Mira gave birth to a litter of 8 beautiful Karakachan pups on 3-5-2010.

               Mira                                      Bella

Our New Arrival:  Welcome Bella

The story of our Karakachan Dog(s)

One snowy day I picked up the phone and called a goat farmer to talk to her about her Angora Goats.  I called because I thought I might want to get started with that type of goat, but instead became intrigued by something she said about one of her guardian dogs.  She mentioned that she had a Karakachan Dog, an old and rare sort of Bulgarian livestock guardian dog.  She described it as doing its job extremely well, and being far less aggressive toward people as some other LGDs can be (Of course, how a dog is raised has the most impact on how it interacts with people.) There are only a few of these dogs in the United States, and their survival in their home country is threatened, as well.  It just so happened that most of the dogs in the U.S. were in western Virginia, not too far away from us.  We weren't really in the market for a puppy when we made that call, but within a couple of weeks, we came home with the adorable ball of fluff pictured below. 

Mira, 13 weeks old, first day "home". 

 

               

 

Mira,  almost 5 months old, much more settled in than she was in her first photo.  She is a happy and playful dog, but is much more serious than any puppy I've ever known.  I think she will be a very business minded girl when she's all grown up.  She's getting along with all the goats, but knows to be wary of Olive.   Around this age, she began chewing on one of our goats, a little wether that wasn't quite right, who was a pet for our youngest child.    I'm not sure if she singled him out because he was weak, but she really did pick on him, until we had to put him to sleep because of an injury she caused.  The few times I caught her in the act, I scolded her harshly, but to no avail.  She appeared to just be playing with him, but the results were disastrous.  It was a hard lesson (for us).  We learned afterwards that most people do not leave their LGDs alone with the livestock until they are past their puppy stage entirely.  Various methods can be employed to keep them with the animals, but not in direct contact with them.   We don't allow her to be alone with the kids, but she is fascinated with them, and very sweet to them when she is allowed some supervised time with them.  She was in the pen when one of them was born in the middle of the night, and didn't hurt it, but who knows what might happen...   Just about one month later... Drastically different coat color.  Although you can't see it in the 5 month photo, Mira did have a tiny bit of black in one patch on her back.  This patch grew and grew until she is now as you see her here.  The black is almost like a saddle.  Her coat is changing in other ways, too, becoming less fluffy and more long and silky. Her body is becoming more lean and powerful, with huge haunches.  She's growing more assertive, although a few days with our new sheep cowed her a bit.  They took some getting used to, but now she prefers to stay with the sheep more than anything.  She had been roaming the farm at will- sleeping and loafing near the goats, but following us around when we were outside.  I was quite worried that she was becoming more socialized than we wanted, but her instinct for the livestock is still really strong.  She does prefer their company most of the time, and I prefer her to be in the sheep pen, where I know just where she is and that she is safe.

 

A Mira Story:  One June day I came home to find Mira barking nonstop. Philip came outside just as I pulled up, and he and I started walking down to see what was wrong.  At first, we thought the horses might be too close to the sheep's pen.  (Mira, after months of living near them, still mistrusts horses.)  As we got closer we could see that there were no horses in sight.  Rather, the problem was that a big section of the electric fence was down.  Expecting to have to find and round up the flock, Philip ran ahead, and I got a bucket of feed.  When we got to the pen, though, we found the flock was all there;  none but Mira realized that the fence was down.  Mira knew that we needed to know that the fence was out of commission and she was barking to alert us to a situation she considered threatening to the sheep.  As soon as Philip arrived on the scene, she stopped barking.  I was really impressed with her intelligence, to equate a down fence with danger and to know to call us, and still a pup just shy of 8 months!  The genes are strong, and the instinct is intact, despite our socializing her more than most people would...  That is just one of several stories I could tell about our Karakachan Dog.  She is the first LGD we have owned, so we are learning a lot about this type of dog in general, but have so far been really impressed with the strength of her instinctive desire to be part of a group of small animals, like sheep or goats.  She is happy as a clam to be with the sheep for long stretches, and she is well-adjusted enough to be allowed to roam the farm freely at times, as well.  She is intelligent, alert, and protective.  She is also a healthy and physically beautiful animal, and, like her parents, possessive of a grace and athleticism surprising for her size. 

On the subject of barking, she has a really scary, deep, loud bark.  She does bark when coyotes or other dogs bark, but not for extended periods.  She uses other vocalizations, too, almost like she "talks" to me.

 

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Copyright 2007 Shy Valley Farm Native Habitat Nursery & Herbary
Last modified: 05/10/13