Around here, my most valued dogs are the ones who listen well and listen now. Especially in a high-drive scenario. Those are the dogs who are the most useful to me, and the ones I trust the most. They are the dogs I select from and breed.
Liberty has been going over to feed the goats with me every morning for about two weeks now. Through a fence, he pays close attention to them and takes an inventory of their abilities and behaviors. We’ve even been inside the fence with the goats a few times, where he’s done well in practice by helping me push them around the perimeter of the fence. For stock management, I think he will be every bit as good as Sugar or maybe even more so.
This morning, Liberty passed a critical test in his development as a farm dog. We were out hiking in the woods just after dawn. I rotate which dog goes with me first in the morning. The first dog is mostly likely to encounter wildlife. That was the case this morning. Liberty’s first close-up encounter with was a big possum. He saw her before I did, and he took a few steps towards her. But at 17 weeks old, he’s still too young to get into a skirmish, so I called him off. He thought about it for a second, but in the end, he made the right choice. He came back to me and left the critter alone. The big possum waddled off to home, and we took a different trail. For a dog I want helping with moving my livestock, that was the perfect response. He was amply rewarded on the spot, and he’s enjoying an extra chicken-stuffed Kong this morning.
Natchez Trace Liberty comes out of my Josie x Rustie Jr. Fall 2020 litter. His DNA lab work is clear of breed specific diseases tested for by Embark. He is showing a propensity to work stock, and has a good handle on him.