Livestock Guardian/First Line of Defense/Nanny/Best Friend.
Keisha is our dog and, like me, she wears many hats around the farm.
Back Story: I first saw her while visiting the Washington County Humane Society. Roen, my then 4 year old son, and I brought her in the play yard to get to know her a bit. She was respectful and not hyper at all, but could not focus on us either. Her brain was spinning. She had been there for over 60 days. She missed her family and knew this place full of barking and hysteria was surely not home. I could see it in her eyes that she was concerned. We took her back to her cage across from the sniveling cocker spaniel female to fill out paperwork. I was close to tears. It was tough explaining this all to a child who couldn't understand how all these dogs got here. We wanted her, but almost took the cocker, instead, out of pure pity.
The paperwork was signed. The bail was paid. Various staff members stopped by to inform me what a wonderful dog she was. The large breed, darker colored dogs always stay the longest, someone mentioned. When they handed me her lead, I stood up, looked at her and said, "you ready to go for a ride?" Her head perked and she was so focused on me, the noises and voices and barks were no more. She waited for my foot to move for the que...then raced for the door at the slightest motion in that direction. This gal was a smart cookie. She pulled me toward the parking lot like she new which vehicle was mine. Roen was begging to hold the lead. NO WAY! This dog was making a break for it and he surely would have been left in the dust. I opened the door to the truck and barely got it open before she barreled up into it.
Mouth open, tongue hanging out.... we were on our way home. I ultimately decided to adopt her due to her temperment. She had a great disposition and I recognized her right away. She reminded me of a dog I had in my twenties. My father, too, always kept a rottie around the farm so she was familiar.
Rotties are protective and alert.
They bond tightly with their families and, in particular, that one person who they respond to first.
They need a job and do best in a place that gives them the opportunity to earn their keep... however small the pay is.
Rotties are obedient and aim to please. Nothing makes them more happy than rewarding them for a job well done.
This photo above is of Keisha in 2013 the day we brought her home. She was thin, had some hair loss and her belly was loose and hanging. Obviously, she had recently had a litter of puppies but the SPCA never did find them. She was a stray and stressed without her babies. I would later realize how much they must have meant to her.
Within a few weeks, she settled in like she had always been here and found her niche in our family where we all have a job... or 5 jobs. Keisha is a wonderful Flock Protector. She knows our animals belong with us and will protect them without fear. She will chase a fox, ground hog, opossum, stray dog and just about anything that is not supposed to be in the barnyard. At night we lock up our poultry and bring her inside to sleep on the floor of my boys' bedroom where she moonlights as a Security Guard.
Keisha is smart enough to know what does belong by our actions even if it may smell a bit peculiar. This stray fawn was raised by us two years ago. She enjoyed their shenanigans and played endlessly with him. She even allowed Sammie to suckle from her. Though she was not in milk, the suckling helped stimulate the fawn to be bottle fed and I think she knew it would help him.
They remained friends up until Sammie stopped visiting us in late November. Kerry saw him sometime after Christmas running with new friends and we were thankful he was accepted by the herd.
Keisha loves to play, but only with dogs that are big enough to play "rottweiler games"...a worthy adversary so to speak. She is fearless and can make other dogs feel uncomfortable. It's important to know your dog and be confident that you could control a situation should it take a negative turn.
She now recognizes the truck "Blue" rides in and gets very excited to see him.
I believe her favorite jobs are Child Care Assistant and Chief Operator of Sofa Warming.
Keisha, Kerry and I went on a hike to the C&O Canal and peeked into some of the caves along the river. This was the only time I saw fear in her. I couldn't blame her. I wasn't going in that hole either! Dogs have excellent senses and are more in touch to our feelings than we realize. She could feel my fear which triggered her anxiety.
Even though we giggled at her nervousness in this situation, we take a different approach at the vet's office, when introducing another dog or when a strange person walks up the driveway. It's important to maintain your composure, be strong and give confidence to your rottweiler or any dog in an unfamiliar situation. They always look to us for support and guidance and will take our lead. A scared dog is an unpredictable and potentially dangerous one.
People keep dogs for various reasons. They can be a loyal companion or just something soft to cuddle and carry around in a purse. People keep dogs to show or for sporting games. Other breeds may be better at guarding herds of sheep or goats and others may be better in different circumstances but, on our farm and in our situation, there is no better breed of dog for us.
This girl is mine. She's my Best Friend and she's a part of my family. She's my hiking buddy and our Protector. She loves my babies like they are her own and is their Guardian as much as she is the flock's. She holds down the fort from the front porch while we are away and everyone who visits is enamoured by her gentle nature. This farm is her home and her years here will never be enough. Thank you, Superdog.