Bill With Anastasia

Bill With Anastasia
Bill Eatmon - 1955 - 2006 Co-shepherd at Sheltering Pines from June, 1996 to August, 2006.


Friday, May 22, 2009

An Era Ends at Sheltering Pines

I came home from work this morning and my old friend and trusted livestock guardian dog, Alpha (thus named by her breeder because she was the alpha puppy in the litter) had died in her sleep. I knew she was getting old and had problems but as we always are.....I was not prepared for her to leave this world last night. She was curled up in a hole she had dug to keep cool in and apparently died in her sleep. I will miss her terribly. There is a lot of "history" and sentimentality wrapped up in that old dog. She was Bill's and my first experience wih LGD's. A Maremma by breed and a dog that had many people fooled for the most of her life...she seemed aggressive and most people were terrified of her. I knew her secret: she was a "love" deep inside. Alpha came to live with Bill and me in Nov., 1997. We had gotten our first sheep in 1996 and were afraid of predators and roaming dogs. Alpha came from Julia Farmer's farm in West Virginia. She raised Nubian goats and bred Maremmas. Julia was very particular about placing dogs...she is an incredible person who loved her dogs and wanted them to go to the right home. I will be forever thankful to her for allowing Bill and me to have Alpha. Alpha was 13 years old this year which I am told is pretty old for large breeds. I had a good cry and will miss my wonderful friend and think of her every time I go to the barn. There is a big "hole" in my life right now. I will post some photos of Alpha through the years below.

Alpha guarding over a very pregnant Laura in March 1998

Alpha lying in the barn Nov. 1998. Julia (Alpha's breeder) loved this photo and used it on her web site for many years.

Alpha, Nov. 26, 1998

Bill and Alpha May 31, 2002 soon after she suffered a stroke from the then new heart worm 6 month injection medicaion. That med was removed from the market as many pet owners had horrible problems with it hurting their dogs. We thought Alpha was going to die and were trying to prepare ourselves for her death by buying a new dog, Bella. But thankfully she made a miracualous recovery and lived many more years.

Alpha "vegging" near Bella's kennel soon after Bella's arrival. (june 2002) We were afraid alpha would no "take" well to anothe dog after having been alone for 5 years...but we were soon to learn that a 2nd dog was just what the "doctor ordrered"! They became inseparable friends...and you hardly ever saw one without the other after Bella became used to her
new home.

Bella and Alpha together Aug. 2, 2002 after becoming good friends.

Alpha and Bella doing their "daily rounds" June 2003

Alpha and Bella May 21, 2004

Alpha and Bella May 6, 2006

Alpha, May 19, 2009 (2 days ago): her last photo

Good-bye Alpha. You were an incredible dog and I shall never forget you.


Cynthia said...

I'm so sorry to hear about Alpha Stephen. Dogs so tug at our hearts but all the more so do those dogs that help maintain our world. I'm sure you will miss her greatly.

Nancy K. said...

She served you well.

Rest in peace, Dear Alpha...

Angela Rountree said...

I am so sorry. You are in my prayers.

Carol B. said...

What an amazing dog. So many years together with you and your flock. I know she will be missed.

Rayna said...

Awww I am soooo sorry Stephen :( She was a good ol' dog!

Bill Stearman said...

Hugs my dear friend. I will miss her too. It took her and I many years to decided that we loved each other ... :-)

Jen and Rich Johnson said...

Stephen, my thoughts are with you. Alpha looked over your farm for so many years. Although there are never words to fully express the magnitude of the emotions you must feel, I hope you know that there are a lot of us who share your grief today.

Best wishes, my friend,


Juliann said...

Stephen I'm so sorry. I have a great respect for Bella and that intimidating bark helped keep your flock so safe for all these years.
Hugs to you. It hurts to much to lose them but I think we'll see them again on the other side. God gave us such a capacity to love our dogs, and them us, so purely.

Charlotte Epley said...

Steve, my heart goes out to you...Alpha had a long meaningful life. It was a pleasure to know her.
Bella was just as bummed as you the morning we took her away, I hope she too is getting better.

corinne said...

Stephen, I am so sorry about your beautiful girl. It looks like she had a wonderful, happy life with you.

Gail V said...

So sorry, Stephen.
Alpha was a good old girl, it's clear, and it's hard to lose an old, dear friend.

gnuhampshirefarm said...

Oh Stephen, I am so sorry for you. I lost one of my dogs this past month, not one of the Tatras but a beloved pet in the house. It's so very difficult. I write this as I sit here waiting and watching for my Tatra, Bella to whelp a litter of puppies any day now. I remember visiting your place 2 years ago and how nice your dogs were to me. I have great respect for these working breeds. They can be very misunderstood and it takes a special owner to bring out the best in them. I believe you were that owner for Alpha. Your photos of her are wonderful. She was a lucky dog to live with you!
Donna G

suzie said...

I found your blog last night; the story about Alpha is so beautiful. She must have been a wonderful dog. I wonder about Bella's recovery from the loss of her good friend.