Sunday, September 20, 2009

Royal Ranch Royalty

Good Sunday morning all.

Well, today is the day I introduce you all to one of my critters here at the Royal Ranch. I wanted to share a story that was published in the Mile High Great Pyrenees Club newsletter many years ago. Marilyn is my beloved Pyr that I lost almost a year ago now due to esophageal cancer. My friend and mentor Jean, knew how much we loved our Marilyn Monroe and asked me to write this:

Marilyn Monroe Goes Country

I had been waiting for the call from Jean Pero for what seemed like forever, when it finally came. A match had been made and Marilyn was on her way! My family and I could barely wait. Aside from myself and my husband, we have two growing energetic redheaded boys, and a four year old blond beauty. We had many house pets, cats, dogs, a turtle, all that we loved dearly, but this was the summer that I had waited my whole life for! The llamas had started coming a few weeks earlier and I hoped that Marilyn was going to love her new home in the mountains.

The plan was to take Marilyn Monroe, the most beautiful city Pyr, who had never been around other animals let alone livestock, and slowly train her to guard my llamas from the predators in our mountainous area. I knew that this was quite a challenge and would take some time, but I really wanted a rescue dog instead of buying a puppy. I was in the process of building my llama packing business, and felt that Marilyn was going to be an integral part of it.

My first red flag was when the guy got out of his Dodge Diesel with a large horse rope wrapped multiple times around his wrist and the other end attached to the most beautiful dog I had ever seen. The funny thing is, the red flag was to hurry up and get rid of the guy! She had the saddest eyes, it appeared as if she were pleading with me. He told us many times to not let her go as she would definitely run away, didn’t like kids much, and that she preferred to be outside. He promptly asked for some Tums and took off. The kids and I took Marilyn Monroe into her new home, and tried to get her settled. Marilyn is anything but settled indoors.

Within about three hours of her arrival, to my horror the kids accidentally let Marilyn out the front door without the Horse Rope on. She was moving very slowly so I decided just to follow her and see what happened. It was like the dog was on a mission. She went to our property line and she walked the entire thing, it was as if she knew her territory. There was absolutely no running away, Marilyn Monroe was home and she was checking out her new terrain. She immediately chose a spot between the house and the llama pen where she could keep an eye on her humans and her llamas. It was amazing, she was not aggressive with any of the house animals, loved the llamas and kids, remember, this is a dog that had never been around any of these things.

There were a couple of concerns with our wonderful Marilyn. The first being that she was terrified of my husband and the second was that she HATED being indoors. I’ll go back to the husband thing later. Anyway, not long after Marilyn got here she started chasing Dodge Diesel pick-up trucks (you do recall that was the get away vehicle) unless we had her very securely put away, and she was very hard to secure. I had even tried to put her in the house one time when I left and she had jumped out a second story window that she had pushed open. She would have nothing to do with a crate, and of course I knew that the long process of training her to live with my llamas was not complete.

She couldn't have been here more than a week, when despite her dislike of the indoors, she was not leaving the side of my son who had a pretty high fever. You know how Moms are we worry to worry. It wasn’t until I woke up in my chair at 2:00 in the morning and realized that Marilyn had not woken me up to go out, that I got myself in a panic. She had been laying by his side for more than 18 hours, and had not been freaking out to go outside like normal. I took him to the doctor first thing in the morning and he had a very serious infection that they were able to treat with antibiotics, I could not believe that Marilyn had known how sick he was.

We were at a loss as to how to keep Marilyn safe, she hated the pick-ups! My only option was to put her in with the llamas. Well, she showed me, she took to her job like a pro. There was absolutely no training needed by me, it was simply her instinct to guard the llamas. Her dedication has continued to amaze us. This past summer one of our beloved rescue llamas passed away and Marilyn guarded him until we were able to get him buried. We were unable to get a tractor in until morning so I covered T- bone right away and Marilyn kept uncovering his face, it was as if she hoped he’d breathe again. I’ll never forget it, the loss of the llama was tragic enough, but I was so concerned that a bear was going to come for the body and Marilyn would fight for it. Throughout the night I would check on them, she would take a quick potty break, but only when I came up to keep an eye on her llama for her. She just lay by him, all night long and into the morning.

Back to my poor husband, he tried so hard with Marilyn, and she was still terrified of him a year later. I had stayed in touch with Jean Pero over the year and she had been a fantastic mentor and Pyr expert. I had absolutely fallen in love with the breed, and she felt another Pyr might help Marilyn like Tom better, so I decided to look for another working dog. Sure enough another city dog came along and I thought I’d try again since this guy was so young, only 1 year old. He wasn’t near as smart or as intuitive as Marilyn, but we fell in love with Samson right away! He has been fantastic for Tom, too. He too, had a sad story and was raised in a tiny yard and had never had any room to exercise. To move to a ranch in the mountains was great for him, and my adventurous husband loved to take him along. Jean was right, as soon as Marilyn saw how Samson adored Tom she slowly started building a trusting relationship with him.

We still do not get Marilyn inside as much as we would like, but at least when she does come in she enjoys herself and is a little more relaxed, then wants to get right back to her herd. She was the one who handled all of Samson’s llama training, keeping him in line when he got over excited about the llama antics. To see pictures of Marilyn and Samson and their herd please visit our website at they are very proud to be hard working dogs! Both of them are parts of our family and an important part of our business and have been a wonderful life changing experience!

Marilyn's life changed many of those around her, but her death was an experience that I will never forget. At the time, my vet was a good friend of mine, so when we had to put Marilyn down she had brought her 14 month old daughter with her. My kids were inside the house with her and my friend and I were dealing with Marilyn. As soon as she gave the shot, the baby started crying so her mommy brought her out. I was sitting next to Marilyn just bawling my eyes out when I looked up and saw the baby waving into the sky, she very quietly said "Bye, bye doggy." Needless to say her mommy and I were absolutely shocked, this dog could even touch our souls after she was gone! Marilyn is buried above my garden where I can see her out my kitchen window. I don't think there has been an animal that has come across my path that I feel more blessed to have known.

No comments: