You know it’s going to be a good day when you get a visit from the shared alpha farm dog. You picked up Tia from a cardboard box containing a litter of free puppies when your daughter saw them there by the stop sign at the post office peering over the flap and looking like German Shepherd puppies. She managed to convince you that you were indeed getting a free, full-blooded German Shepherd. And a female – worth even more! Maybe in the world of pedigrees she would be, but you knew you’d have her spayed on her first eligible day.
So on the way home, you look into the sweet face of a puppy now destined to be a farm dog simply by your choice to swoop her up. She’ll chase off critters and follow the tractor through the field and sleep in the shade of a turkey fig and plop down on the front porch with her strong-jowled head in your lap, wanting you to scratch behind her ears as you rock in your red Cracker Barrel rocking chair, drinking a Mason jar of sweet iced tea. She’ll take up residence with you, then move back and forth between farm houses, convincing each family that she has not eaten in weeks and that she needs a hearty meal, despite her thick trunk and spoiled smirky smile that tell the truth.
This clearly non-German Shepherd lady’s role here on the land is more important than being your average German Shepherd- it’s not for the faint of heart. It’s about knowing 200 acres like the back of your paw, surviving snakebites, fleas, and ticks, navigating foxes, raccoons and coyotes, learning not to chase the chickens and deer – and protecting your people.
Any old dog can be a Shepherd, but it takes the best to be a mixed breed farm dog.