Monday, August 4, 2008

Update and the vet's response

Sovalye has been locked in a horse stall. Mike took him for a walk last night and noticed that Sovalye wouldn't go anywhere near the pasture. It's so obvious that he just wants to be in the barn. I wish I knew why.

I called the vet office and told them what happened. I said I wanted to have Sovalye checked over to make sure there was no medical reason for him to suddenly be acting like this. Instead of being given an appointment time, I was told that the vet recommended that we put him down. Tears started rolling down my cheeks. It never crossed my mind that she would say that.

Margaret is healing, but I'm a little worried about one of the bites on her arm. It's hot and red, but I can't imagine how it could be getting infected after the irrigation, IV antibiotics, oral antibiotics, and topical antibiotics. If it's not looking better soon, we'll head back to the doctor.

Margaret has her own shop now where she sells yarn and roving and such, and she asked me if I could go in today and run things. So, after successfully milking three goats (woo hoo) this morning, I'm showered and ready to go. I decided to deal with the loss in milk production by leaving the six other does with their single kids. I'm weighing the milk and meeting the amounts that Margaret was getting, so I guess I still know what I'm doing. I just need to get these muscles built back up.

In the midst of all this, Mike picked 15 pounds of green beans and 5 pounds of okra that need to be processed, and there are probably another 5 pounds of green beans out there that need to be picked. Of course, there are gallons more blackberries on the bushes. And the gladiolas have started to bloom. That is something that I can find time to do -- cut the gladiolas and put them in vases all around the house.


A :-) said...

Deborah, I'm a reader of Michelle's Boulderneigh blog - I was stunned reading your account of your daughter's attack. I'm so sorry - what a terrible thing. I hope she will heal quickly and heal well, and I hope things get back to some sense of normal for you soon - I'm keeping you and your family in my thoughts and prayers.

Heather said...

Hi Deborah, I was reading your blog and boy have you guys been through the ringer. I have a bunch of sheep and we have had coyote problems in the past. We have a few cows too, and when a coyote gets a calf, it doesn't bother me as much as when they get my sheep - I'm way too attached to them, but that'll never change. We've got one Llama, and 5 dogs, three are guardians and one is a sheep dog. That does help a lot. And you're right - they eat alot! Last year we lost a full grown ewe to a coyote and couldn't find it or the coyote, although we knew 'who' the coyote was - a mamma with pups. The county poisoned them for us. I agonized over it for days, it seemed so cruel. I can shoot, too, but I've never shot a coyote - I'm too scared of wounding it and not killing it and making it suffer.
Give my love to your daughter. How incredibly brave and smart she was to do what she did. If it were me, I'd feel so betrayed and devastated to be attacked by one of my dogs that I take care of and love. My prayer is for deep healing of both of your wounds - physically and emotionally. Talking to old sheep guys around here, they all say, sometimes you just have a dirty rotten year with all sorts of problems, but then you'll have the wonderful romantic years, too, where everything just goes fine. Good for you to see they beauty for the ashes in your chicks. There is so much beauty out there, despite the ashes.
If you love animals, try having a few Cria (Llama babies) - you'll fall in love all over again - they are so cute and mischevious and playful. And the mamma's step up their protectiveness - a good thing. It just takes 11 months :o).

Michelle at Boulderneigh said...

Sovalye's extreme reluctance to go to the pasture makes me wonder if he has been ganged up on by the coyotes (or perhaps a mountain lion?) and has lost his nerve. Even though he's an LDG, I would think even they could lose their nerve given a bad enough experience. Just the thoughts rattling around in my mind....

Alaska Shetland Shepherd said...

I would agree with Michelle's idea too...either something is wrong with your LGD physically or he has been attacked and refuses to go out there. I don't know about that vet tho...a vet that's happy to tell you over the phone, put the dog down, without giving you the peace of mind of a full exam and if necessary, blood tests - that sends up a big warning flag to me.

Tammy W. said...

Hi Deborah - I've just found your blog through Michelle @ Bolderneigh.
You have been having a horrifying time, and my thoughts and prayers are with you and your family. We don't have any LGD's - but we do have a llama, and have thus far, luckily, had no coyote attacks - although we do hear them close by. I sincerely hope that things get better for you soon - and that your daughter heals very swiftly. Also - I was concerned that your vet said to destroy the dog. There's a reason he's afraid to go to the pasture with his sheep.

Nancy K. said...

You're in my thoughts and prayers, Deborah. As is your daughter ~ my heart goes out to her for the trauma she has suffered and will continue to suffer for Lord knows how long.

Maybe I'm the "bad guy" here but I have to say: if my dog ~ no matter how loved and loyal in the past ~ did that to my daughter, I would not hesitate to put it down. In fact, it would be a very lucky animal if it was humanely euthanized! One bite might possibly be forgiven due to his recent medical history and past service. Three or four bites and there wouldn't be a moment's hesitation on my part.

I do not in any way mean to tell you what you should do. Only how I would react if it had been my daughter who had been hurt. I understand that this is a very personal decision that you and your family have to make. Please take your daughter's feelings into consideration as I would think just seeing Suvalye could trigger PTSD for her...

What ever you decide, I wish you PEACE!!!

Alaska Shetland Shepherd said...

Deborah, have you double checked any footprints in on your sheep for size?? I found an interesting article in the Quad Cities newspaper stating that there was probably a gray wolf in or near Moline...your attacks sound pretty severe for coyotes, especially taking down adult sheep. Here's the link to the article -

From the article:
“Based on the evidence and data — compared to the evidence I have — it’s an exact match to a gray wolf,” he said. “But I haven’t seen it, so I can’t prove that.”

The most compelling evidence, he said, were the footprints. Whatever dragged that deer onto a frozen creek in the Moline ravine had paws that were almost five inches long and 3½ inches wide. That’s too big for a coyote.

So perhaps you can search for paw prints to give you a better idea what you're dealing with. You have a creek there and some natural habitat for predators. I live with predators here, plenty of them, and it's not easy some times! Even Mary Ellen had a mountain lion killing her sheep over the past year, and people said there weren't any around her place for many years but there's one there now. EEEK!

Deborah said...

Thanks to everyone for your thoughtful comments. I am still not sure what to do. Margaret says she doesn't know either.

Thanks for that link, Suzanne. That's a very interesting article. My 15-year-old is convinced there are wolves around here, but I've been hesitant to agree since she is crazy about animals, and I thought she might just be looking for something "cool" like a wolf. She is at camp right now, but I remember her saying that she found footprints that were too big to be a coyote. She took pictures of the prints. I wish I could remember when, because she has thousands of photos from out here. It's no big deal for her to take 100 pictures in a day.

Anonymous said...

Deborah ...

I remember reading on your daughter's blog just recently that she thought that there might be a cougar/mountain lion around last year.

I also remember a story in Wyoming about a lady who had a poodle that refused to leave the house to go outside. Turned out that in a town of 100,000 that there was a mountain lion in her tree. Animals can sense these things. I really feel that you should hold off putting your dog down without looking into this possibility.

I do feel for your daughter, hoping and praying that she feels better soon.

Anonymous said...

A friend of mine told me about the blog and the attack. I'm sorry to hear that your daughter went through that. But as I read about your account of your dog's unusual behaviour, the fact that 'something' dook down an adult sheep, and drug it off without a trace, and of the mysterious large tracks your daughter photo'd, it causes me to think something's amiss.
I personally witnessed (with a friend) a wild Cougar (aka Mountain Lion) crossing the Lexington - LeRoy Blacktop road, just south of the Mackinaw river, and North of Hwy 165. This was around 11PM at night, and there was no mistaking its long brown body, and swooping tail. I tried to rationilize it was something else, but there was nothing else that fit it's shape, proportion or even comes close to it's tail. This occurred about 6 years ago, and is probably only around 35 miles away from you, right? So I think it is highly likely that the dog NEW that there was something out there and that it was scared. I doubt your dog would be scared of coyotes, considering it's used to them. But a big cat, now that's another story. I've heard of accounts where otherwise fealess dogs will be scared of Cougar... Find the photos of the tracks, have them checked against a Cougar. They have been making a comeback all across IL, and are very elusive, so they can live next to civilization and you would not ever know it (they are nocturnal and very stealthy).

Kara said...

Hi again,
I hope you are hanging in there. Putting a dog down or not is a very difficult decision and one only you and your family can make. I do agree that is seems that there must have been a reason the dog didn't want to go into the pasture, and probably a good one. My question is what happens next time he has a good reason. It is how he reacted that is problematic. What if the outcome is worse next time? I agree with Nancy, any dog of mine that did that to a member of the family would have no home with us any longer. Whether the solution is to put him down I don't know, are there other options? You will never trust him again, he is not even doing his job because he refuses, why keep him? I know being attached to our animals makes all decisions like this harder. I am so sorry you have to deal with this. Sending you my best wishes.

Tammy said...

Hi Deborah,
I too found your link through Michelle's blog. My heart goes out to you in this situation. As with all hard things, what you do with the dog will have to be a decision that you and your whole family can deal with. It does sound like 'something' very big has happened in this dog's mind regarding going out to the field--whether because he is ill, feels vulernable or has had a bad experience. Unfortunately, since you cannot understand what has caused this, it may be that you'll have to make that hard choice. I have a very large, very massive French Mastiff (Hooch dog) that I rescued a few years back. I try never to forget how much damage he could do if backed into a corner, even though he has never shown one ounce of aggression. He is still capable of it, and he is still a dog and thinks doggie thoughts, I can't know. It would absolutely break my heart to be in your shoes. Take care, and I pray things will get better. Tammy

Kathy said...

Deborah, I just wanted to let you know you and your family are in our thoughts and prayers.
I tend to agree with Nancy and Tammy about your lovely dog. Unfortunately, traumatized or not, you have to be able to know that he will not take out fear and frustration on you or your family.
I, too, would check for tracks and scat to determine if you do have wolves in your area. Coyotes, even ones in a pack, are one thing but a wolf/wolves are totally different. Elk in our area don't even bat an eye at coyotes or a pack of coyotes, but if they get wind of a wolf they run in fear of their lives. They know a wolf can take them down.
I agree it sounds like there was something that has traumatized your flock and dog. Just make sure you keep your ears and eyes open that you or your family don't become the next victims.
And please keep us informed...we are all worried about you and yours. (((((((((hug)))))))))


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