Today, we set out today to pickup a new member for the Prairie Home Hobby farm, a Livestock Guardian Dog (LGD). We took off at 9 this morning for a 120 mile trip into the Dakotas. Doesn't that just sound like some old western. We pressed the Explorer into a westerly direction, passing through East Grand Forks MN and Grand Forks ND, toward Devils Lake. Now, I haven't been out this way since 1983 when I was stationed at the US Grand Forks AFB and was then sent to Alaska. I just didn't have the reason to go west into the Dakotas after that. Well, today we made the venture west to a little town call Doyon. Upon reaching the farm of Bob and Marte, we were greeted by a pretty little girl that was dressed up in winter clothing with only her eyes and nose exposed to the raw wind on the Dakota cold. Marte was at work, but Bob was there to show us the pups and the parent dogs. Bob and Marte's farm is called the Tangled Tree farm. There is a story there, but not now. Bob whistled out towards the horses and yelled "Come here"! Pretty soon a big white dog showed itself and stood in place long enough for another round of whistles and come here. The old boy come running in a slow gait to where we stood. There was a temporary cattle fencing blocking the dogs full approach. I asked Bob if it was OK to greet the dog and was given the OK. Bob spoke to the dog by name.. Gandalf its OK!. Gandalf the White is the registered name for this impressive male LGD. I swear Gandalf was near big enough to saddle. Both Trish and I loved the name that was given the male. He was a very well behaved dog and very much loved the attention. So much so, he made his way around the house to an opening in the fence and then came over to us. I let the old boy smell my hand for a bit before starting to pet him... he ate it up. He then went over to Trish and got some more petting without knocked her to the ground. We meet the pups mom and immediately decided to get a male pup if any. Don't get me wrong the female was a great looking dog, but we both loved the size of Gandalf. Bob gave us a bit of a tour around his farm while we watched the pups play bout the stead.
The Tangled Tree farm is built on a ridge running north and south, in the Dakota prairie pothole lands, just east of Devils Lake. The farm stead is sheltered from the west winds by the ridge and a shelter belt of trees. They have a good population of goats of a few variety, horses, cattle, chickens, turkey, cats and Maremma, the LGDs! In building the Tangled Tree farm, Bob and Marte rescued an old farm house that Devils Lake was about to swallow by the expansion of Devil Lake. The house was originally built in 1905. Nice rescue! I must say that Bob was a very pleasant man and we enjoyed out time chatting with him.
Without getting into a big history lesson, the Maremma is a distant Italian relative to the Great Pyrenees sheep dog. The name is pronounced as Mare like a female horse and Emma like a girls name. If you are interested in learning more about the Maremma LGD, please follow this link.
While we moved about the stead, I kept my eyes on the pups activities. All the females pups and all but one male pup stayed close to the activity of the visitors. The one male I was watching was out on patrol with dad, who had returned to the pasture with the horses. Next thing I knew, the pup was checking out a coop not far from where we stood. His dad continue his path towards the horses. Bob noticed I was watching the pup and gave it a call. It responded almost immediately and was then selected as the new member of the Prairie Home Hobby farm. We loved the name of Gandalf the White so much we asked if Bob mind if we too used the name. Bob had no troubles with that idea at all. And so, Gandalf was placed into the Explorer. Gandalf the White was so exhausted by his exploits, he slept most of the way home in the backseat.
In the days to come... both Trish and I will be posting updates about Gandalf on our blogs, so stay turned!