The Real Time Canine II

After spending 2 years writing the Real Time Canine, the adventure continues with The Real Time Canine II. Read along as I look for just the right puppy to continue the experience. After false starts with Tim and Jed, I am currently training young Tam, and Spot, which are both off to a strong start. Please visit the RTC II to read about training sessions as they occur.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Will to Live

He showed up a wee bit early, unexpectedly, and smallish. He was a little weak, but still hopping around the overnight pen when I found him, cautiously sniffing the others, asking; "are you my mother?" I was out early that morning, getting ready to leave and go work dogs with a friend. That was the little guy's first break, because, my horse, Alley Cat, doesn't like tiny creatures gamboling around his pen. He's been known to take a swing at 'em and I was a day or 2 from separating the pregnant ewe to give birth. Clearly, Alley hadn't yet noticed this little one.

And that wasn't the only odd stacked against him. His own mother didn't recognize him. A first-lamber, she sniffed him without recognition. Even though his birth could not have occurred more than 15 minutes eariler, she had forgotten the entire experience. Sheep are not known for their overwhelming intelligence, and this ewe is extraordinarily dumb. She will not be bred again. Good mothering is a trait one breeds for and while she may have other redeeming qualities, (I don't know what those might be,) nurturing is not in her repertoire. 


So, I jugged them, meaning I put them in a small pen to keep them in close contact, hoping maternal instinct would overwhelm her. It didn't. So, I tied her to a fence post and tempted the little guy to nurse. He tried, she didn't, and kept kicking him off with a hind leg. So, I hobbled her to prevent her from kicking, and baby got his first few precious drops of colostorum. It wasn't enough. I gave them some alone time in their private jug in the shade of a spreading pepper tree. I tempted the ewe to be still with hay, grain, and a handful of hay pellets. I left them alone only to return a few hours later to an obviously weakened baby and a persistently oblivious ewe.


Should I let nature take its' course? Should I intervene? He is a ram lamb afterall, soon to become a wether, a castrated male. I don't need him or want hm. If I go to the expense of colostorum and milk replacer, I'll have more money in him than he's worth. But I had held him in my hands. I felt the steady rhythm of his heart, his breath soft on my face. I heard his innocent bleating. I don't think of myself as sentimental, but I am such a sucker for a helpless creature. I owed it to this tiny life to try my best.

3 days, and some minimal intervention later, mother and baby are doing fine. The ewe is not contented, nor proud, nor even particularly protective of her baby. She has, at least, decided to let him nurse, but only because baby has grown strong enough to force the issue. Good for you baby. Give her your dose of will to live and get tough or die...

No comments:

Post a Comment