As I was getting ready to bring out another round bale to the cheviot group this morning, I pulled the feeder from the remnants of the previous bale. Luna was down at the other end of the field, eating breakfast, but she immediately ran up, claimed the shitty little pile of hay, and growled at any sheep that tried to eat.
After a couple of minutes of posturing, she perfunctorily chased a couple of the ewes and then went back to finish her breakfast.
I was slightly annoyed with her behavior, but mostly excited to realize that hay-guarding is a Maremma “thing”. Bravo regularly pulls stunts like this, but because he’s been challenging me since he first arrived, I tend to take his assholisms personally.* Now that I have evidence (N=2) that some of his idiocies are baggage from his breeding** rather than personal affronts, I hope to be more sanguine the next time he pees in the mineral feeder.
* I realize that this is the malignant flip side of my tendency to anthropomorphize, and in lucid moments I understand that it’s insane…
** Most trainers of pet dogs work long and hard to eliminate “resource guarding” in their students — no one likes a beagle who steals your sock and then growls when you try to retrieve it. But resource guarding is the core competency of a livestock guardian dog, so it’s hardly surprising that an enthusiastic specimen like Bravo expands his mandate by claiming not only the sheep as his own but also their hay, water, and mineral feeder. And just as he pees around the perimeter of the paddock to announce himself to potential predators, he also marks the other items he claims as his own.