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The hard working Livestock Guard Dogs of Zoology

Posted on: August 25th, 2021

Did you know that not all the care and looking after of the outdoor residents of ZoFo comes from humans?  We have a 24/7 security team in the form of three wonderful livestock guard dogs!  These hard working dogs have proven over and over just how valuable they are in their protection of our outdoor residents.  If alarm barking is heard on the property, it is almost always in defense of the herds.

The property that encompasses Zoology Foundation is located at the base of the foothills in an area known as the Wildland-urban interface (WUI). It is called this because it is a transition area between wilderness and land developed by human activity. Many wild animals have adapted to human encroachment and usually, there is co-existence. For the outdoor residents of Zoology Foundation, wild animals can be a threat because the animal population they share the property with often are predators.

Alpacas and donkeys are sometimes used to protect smaller herd animals but they often need the additional support of livestock guard dogs (LGD’s). These types of dogs act independent of humans, driven by instinct to protect and repel predators.

ZoFo has three LGD’s that live on the property. All are either Great Pyrenees or Great Pyrenees crosses. Cupid and Zoey live and work as a pair, watching over our alpacas, llamas, and angora goat herd. They live as part of the herd, shadowing the herd members as they move between pastures. Our third LDG is Jelly who is the self-assigned General Overseer of the rest of the property. She looks over our combined sheep and goat yard as well as our four pigs.  She has protected our water fowl, chickens, as well as the horse and cow pastures with incredible vigilance.  We sometimes wonder if Jelly ever sleeps!

The three dogs have had a busy summer, chasing off coyotes, bears and even a mountain lion. Most LGD’s take their jobs very seriously and can be ferocious when confronting a threat. When not working, Cupid and Zoey don’t often choose to hang out with the ZoFo staff but are sweet and accepting of their daily care. This is normal for their breed and preferred by them as individuals. Jelly on the other hand will spend a good part of the day with her human friends, loving the rhythm of daily life at the sanctuary! All three dogs are the ”essential workers” we all depend on to help keep our outdoor animal population safe!

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