Friday, June 5, 2009

Abby's Story

Abby, our sweet big Pyr, had a rough start to her life.  A person in Winnipeg got her as a puppy, and when he realized that his small urban yard was being destroyed by this young adult dog he tried to get her into rescue, when they weren't able to take her right away he set her loose in the city.  By some miracle WHS picked her up and contacted the Pyr Rescue who, of course, came to get her.  She was thin, shy and so sweet waiting for a home.  

At that time we were on our place and realized that with the rural area and the wildlife we needed a canine protector for our property and for our little man Luke.  We did not want a guard dog but rather choose a guardian dog (click here for more about Pyr's) and we found Abby.  Her first name was Renae but anyone who knows my side of the family would realize that's not a great dog name.  Abby seemed to suit her, and as soon as we saw her sweet face with the charcoal patch over one eye.

Abby got to go on one of the few car rides of her life (Pyr's will walk and run for miles but will not easily ride in cars or trucks) and came to our little ranch.  She immediately bonded with Luke who was a baby, and with our farm animals.  She and Earl were best friends right away, and she warmed up to me very quickly.

Because she didn't get a chance to learn things before we got here there were some habits that she had which were (and still are) challenging and hard to break.  The worst, absolute worst, was digging holes! She didn't dig holes, she dug craters and ditches and trenches...mostly for play but sometimes to catch moles and voles in the ground (good ears eh?).  She early on had a hard time with magpies and ensured they vacated our yard in short order.  But the holes - under the sunroom, across the lawn, in the driveway, under the trucks, in the flowerbeds...everywhere!  We tried just about everything and socks finally worked!  Kid's socks...phew...that's one habit that has curbed back alot.

Abby is a Pyr which means she barks and roams - and having learned no boundaries as a puppy we had to find a humane way to keep her safe at home and yet give her room to be herself.   Earl came up with a great way to give Abby what she needs - and she loves it! Although we did have to learn how very strong she was when our temporary anchor got drug away on one of her adventures! 

The barks have distinct meanings and nuances - so many as to become a complicated language!  She has a bark for strangers, friends she hasn't seen for a while, animals she doesn't know, bikes, quads, magpies, when she is stuck under a truck on her rope, when she is out of food or water and if there is a threat in the yard (bears, coyotes).  Some of her other barks have been "I'm tangled with my horse friend Lola - help!" and "Hey I know that person but not that car!" and my seasonal favorite "I HATES BLAZE ORANGE!" (she is almost Cujo about blaze orange hunting gear!)

She has grown into a huge, big girl - she can stand on her hind legs with her paws on my shoulders and look me in the eye.  She requires two people to lift her in the truck for grooming (wow that was a marathon this spring - she has LOTS of hair!).  She is strong and brave. She is strangely gentle.  Our poor orange cat Little Kitty (yes her story soon) is very small and we worried Abby might play too rough with her.  Well that big fraud protects and shelters that little 5lb cat like her own baby (I think that is the one thing Abby loves most - babies of any kind).  When Little Kitty had her kittens and I brought them in the house, Abby insisted on coming in to sleep next to their crate with the mama to 'guard' them.  

She loves and plays with Feathers and Emma - she has a bark for Emma to tell her to come back to the yard if she wanders.  She has never hurt Luke, and is so careful with him to the point of letting him use her as part of his personal Pyr play structure.  

Sadly, Abby has some issues from her past life that won't go away.  She is afraid of couch cushions and cameras, flashlights and gunshots.  Fortunately we don't shoot here, and I'm wise enough to sneak photos of her without scaring her.  If she wants to put her big feet on you, just make a square with your fingers and ask if she wants her picture taken...she wags her tail at the 'fake camera' and puts her feet down.  The cushion thing isn't traumatic anymore but certainly is helpful when you need her to stay in one place in the house - and trust me she's strong enough you cannot really force her physically!!

She is our sweet girl, and we cannot imagine life without a big hairy, barky, hole digging, panting in the house enormous furface.  She is the dog that has personally reduced the bear issues in our area and makes sure the animals she guards are guarded well. She also tries to guard our elderly neighbor (much to his chagrin) by barking when he comes out of his house and barking at him as he moves in his yard and then stopping when he stops moving or goes inside.  This can be irritating but when she stops barkin we all check to see if Les is okay in his yard!  People may not like it but she is doing the job her breed has been doing for thousands of years.

Abby and Emma faced off a bear and a family of skunks one fall night - and I really didn't know what we were going to do but I got both girls went into the house fine, the bear continued down the road and the skunks skulked off into the night.  No one was sprayed or injured (well maybe Earl and Henry were threatened for sleeping through it all!).

Abby hates water and doesn't like it when people are in water, but she loves rain and snow. She sleeps in the yard on her back like she's been dumped from a plane.  She gets silly and she can be serious.  She smiles and plays.  She is strong and brave, gentle and sweet. She also is trainable like a cat - ask a Pyr to do something and they get back to you...sometime...maybe...or you could do it first to show them...nah then they won' don't think Pyrs are easy dogs but they are worth the hard work because they are awesome. From their double dew claws down to their big furry faces and sweet you Abby!  I'm sorry you were lost so young but I'm thankful that your Guardian Angel brought you to us for your family...I'm glad you got found!

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