The Documentary

Irony! Elaine’s birthday is 12/30. Monner’s birthday is 08/04. Bittersweet! All bitter, no sweet.


Last week I wrote that good things happen to me in the month of August. Well, I kind of led you astray. I mentioned I had a birthday in August. Had I told the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, I would have said that my birthday was/is in fact August 4th. As I wrote I kept a secret from you, my family, and maybe even myself. I was waiting for an unpleasant event that would make me dislike August even more. (Terribly unpleasant) Hopefully not on the 4th.


Monner, What (construction language) are you talking about?


Sometime after moving out of the city, I happened upon a television documentary about a sheep ranch in Utah. As I watched, I realized Elaine and I were living similar lives to the owners of the Utah ranch. The ranch had a few hundred sheep, Elaine and I had about twenty or so llamas and a handful of alpacas. See, almost the same. The ranch in Utah sat on a couple of hundred acres in the mountains. Elaine and I have forty acres. Again, almost the same. The Utah ranch had a pack of a dozen sheepdogs, (Great Pyrenees). Elaine and I had a Rottweiler and a black lab. Exactly, again the same.


Somewhere along the line, the documentary took a dark turn. It began telling the story of an alpha male Great Pyrenees that came to the aid of a young male Pyrenees that was involved in a fight with a bear while protecting the sheep. Unfortunately, the alpha arrived too late and the bear disposed of the young male Pyrenees. But this fearless alpha Pyrenees attacked the bear and ran the bear off the mountain, seemingly daring the bear to come back.


This is where the story gets slightly dissimilar. I do not know what would have been the result of a confrontation with a bear and our Rottweiler, but I can guarantee that if the bear was a television remote, our Rottweiler would have more than held her own. Yep, I think Lucy took on and whipped twelve television remotes. I watched Lucy attack a cellphone in a repairman’s to belt. Can I help it she didn’t like technology? God, I loved that dog.


Anyway, after watching this documentary I became infatuated with Great Pyrenees. I tried to share my new enthusiasm with Elaine and she said, “Great Pyrenees, I love them. I know everything about them. I want one.” As I have said before, “our crazy lives”. I found a plumber in my construction life breeding Great Pyrenees. I bought Elaine Emma, our first Great Pyrenees.


I can’t say how Emma would have fared in a bear fight. The bear would have a need to get into our house where Emma was because Elaine turned Emma into an eighty-five-pound lap dog. She didn't go outside much. It was apparent Emma would never get the opportunity to fight a bear and most likely wouldn’t handle it very well if she did.


But that’s not the end of this story. With a healthy dose of divine intervention (a gift from God), my brother came along soon an entire litter of Great Pyrenees puppies. He had a friend who was a sheep rancher’s daughter, who also used Great Pyrenees to protect their flock of several hundred sheep. This sheep rancher only used male dogs to protect the herd. The sheep rancher had a litter of six puppies, all-female. The females of this litter were headed for the pound or worse and were given to my brother to find homes for them.


Elaine and I discussed taking two of the puppies. One for our family and one for a neighbor. Turned out to be another one of life’s biggest mistakes. Before taking one puppy to the neighbors’, I let the twins decide which puppy they wanted. I’ll bet you can guess what happened next. Yep, one twin wanted this one, and one twin wanted that one. I had to go to the neighbor and tell them I needed to keep both puppies. Mrs. Neighbor called me some very choice (construction language) names. I being the guy that I may or may not use some equally as colorful language, well, I may have retaliated in kind. However, I did solve the problem by going back to my brother and getting a third puppy. As far as neighbors go, we might have remained friends but we just couldn’t get over that (construction language). Oh well, I have at least one other friend. BTW, the puppies were no cost to me and no cost to Mrs. Neighbor.


Our puppies were as different as night is to day. They didn’t look the same. One was bigger. Personality-wise, they couldn’t have been more different. The bigger one liked to be pet. Not so much for the little one. The little one was aggressive. Some of you might remember I wrote a story a few years back about whether we had a new puppy or a badger, polar bear, or some kind of hybrid.

If I remember correctly, Elaine was reading some Jane Austin book about British women in another century called Sense and More Senses (You might not want to quote this paragraph). She wanted to name the puppies after women in the book. I wanted aggressive names like Bear and Wolf or Badger. We named the puppies Lizzie and Maggie. I know, I’m still embarrassed. Sense and More Senses! Who reads that stuff?


Great Pyrenees are instinctive protective barkers. As I learned from the documentary and my research after watching the show, Pyrenees will protect what they consider to be theirs. The trick is to teach them is what to protect. If they are not taught what their territory is they will run and protect everything and everywhere. I could tell stories for days as they decided to explore and protect every ranch in the valley. If I did tell you about every time, this story would get really long. I will mention the third puppy ran away and never came back. I think I told you Mrs. Neighbor was unpleasant. If I didn’t, I meant to.


To make the rest of the story easier to follow, Lizzie is the lovable “pet me” Pyrenees, Maggie is the lovable aggressive Pyrenees. Lizzie protected the entire mountain. Maggie preferred staying closer to home.


Both dogs love chicken. Lizzie loves chicken sliced and hand-fed to her. Maggie prefers to eat them alive. This is important to the story because of a fox that was stealing our chickens. Maggie wouldn't stand for that, those were her chickens. I can’t say for sure who was more upset, Maggie or Ivy and me, seeing the fox carrying away our chickens. Maggie didn’t actually stop the fox, but she did alert me the fox was back so I could make sure the fox couldn’t get any more chicken.


I have written about the dogs before. Elaine and I sleep in a loft bedroom. Is that too much information?


Maggie sleeps at the top of the stairs using her body to prevent access to the loft. and starts growling at the other dogs and kids so they won't come into our room. When another dog steps onto the stairs, without opening her eyes, Maggie gives that growl that means, “I’m telling you, don’t come up here.” Elaine tells Maggie to let the other dogs come up and everyone goes back to sleep. Personally, I like to let Maggie keep the others out of my bedroom. I don’t like to step over them on the way to the bathroom. TMI?


Lizzie sleeps in the basement where it’s cool. Walter (Great Dane/Pitbull mix) sleeps where ever he can get the most attention. I haven’t said much about Walter because I didn’t watch a Great Dane/Pitbull documentary.


In the documentary, I learned that GreatPyrenees can be nocturnal. Both dogs love laying on the deck barking at every car, that passes by. I telling you, you cannot sneak up on our house at night.


One thing I didn’t pick up from the documentary but should have, Great Pyrenees, bark. And they’re good at it. They bark for several reasons. They bark to alert our family something is amiss and they bark to tell the world, “Hey, I’m here. Don’t mess with me.”


Every night at dusk, all three dogs want outside to start their nightly “we’re here” bark fest. Walter learned about barking from Lizzie and Maggie. Walter and Maggie will tire of the bark fest want back in the house. Lizzie won't stop. The dogs in the documentary also barked but never were brought into the house. our dogs live in the house but Elaine would need to explain that to you. Elaine didn't watch the documentary.


I’m not sure exactly how long Lizzie would bark. After a while, it drives me crazy and I try to bring her in. I say try because if she’s not ready to stop barking she must be incentivized, with a dog treat. Lizzie stays outside and barks, the two other dogs patiently wait inside for me to get sick of barking. Lizzie gets bribed to come inside with a treat and the other two get a treat for being good. I know it’s a plan they have concocted to get treats.


Other than a couple of ear infections the dogs are healthy. Late last fall, we noticed a bump on Maggie’s rear. Just a bump.


Maggie’s personality and energy stay the same. She met every deliveryman and twins’ friends at the door with aggressive barking until she recognized them. She ate out of the other dog’s bowls never letting them eat from hers. She protected our/my bedroom. For the record, the bedroom is mostly Elaine’s, but Maggie was protecting me.


On December 30, 2020, Maggie was taken to a veterinarian. A day we will never forget, especially Elaine. Maggie received a diagnosis of an aggressive fast-growing inoperable cancer. We were told she needed to be put down. This was all second-hand information to me, as I was not there.

I hope no one in my family used the “construction language” that I would have used to tell the vet, “We are not putting her down today.”


One particular Saturday morning in late winter Maggie’s tumor was visibly bleeding. Elaine and I made the decision this was the day. The wrong decision. Keep in mind Maggie had never stopped eating the other dog’s food. She was running to greet us at the door. But her tumor was bleeding. The family gathered and the decision was made to take Maggie to the veterinarian one last time.


The family cried as we drove to town and Maggie jumped from seat to seat licking everyone in the car. She barked at other cars, dogs, and semis. She