Once we made the decision to start an alpaca ranch, we visited several breeding operations to see how others did things. Several had Great Pyrenees as herd guardians. We quickly fell in love with these noble, gentle (unless you are a predator) loyal, amazing and yes, very stubborn ranch protectors. We acquired Butch & Sundance from a breeder in western Nebraska. Nebraska? Well, I’m from Nebraska and I’m noble, gentle (unless you are a predator) loyal, and amazingly stubborn.
At six and three months old respectively, Butch & Sundance arrived before the alpacas. They learned the boundaries and lay of the land very quickly. By the time our four alpacas arrived, Butch & Sundance were already in charge and showed every sign of knowing what was expected of them. Coyotes are our primary issue, although living in the Sandia Mountains we do have other predators. Butch & Sundance spent their nights patrolling and much of the days sleeping. We quickly learned not to be standing between them and the target of their interest when these 150-pound dogs decide there is something foreign about.
True to their heritage as herd guardians, they mix with the alpacas and quickly become trusted friends. At the time of a birth, one of the GPs sits sentry and does not let the curious get near the delivering mom. The dog sitting sentry often starts licking the cria’s face before it hits the ground. When strangers approach the GP’s watch for our response, moving in between visitor and the herd. Always watching.
Sadly, Butch developed bone cancer last July and we had to put him down in early November. We acquired Atticus Finch from the same Nebraska breeder shortly after Butch’s diagnosis; he is now one year old, weighing in at 112 pounds, filling Butch’s paws just fine.
Our hearts were broken when we laid Butch to rest near the alpaca pens. As we covered him, every alpaca was watching. They cried their goodbyes, too. The bond is real.
‘Til next time. Lee