King of all he surveys

As I write this post, I can see Zack standing up on his hind legs, paws on the stone wall that borders our front door, waving his bushy white tail and making known his ownership of the house to all and sundry. Some people had been walking past our house, and Zack was ensuring that they knew it was his house! Pyreneans are very territorial, which is one reason why it is never a good idea to walk them off lead unless they have unfailing  recall.

I was sorry that we always had to walk Monty, our first Pyrenean Mountain Dog, on a lead in open country, where I felt he really ought to be able to run free and sniff and do whatever dogs do to explore to his heart’s content. Unfortunately, Monty was a rescue and did not possess good recall when the great outdoors beckoned. Besides, Pyreneans are large and might frighten people if they are let loose and bound up to them without any by your leave!

Aside from all the above, all the literature I have read about Pyreneans is that they have appalling recall. Let one off the lead and one might well come to regret it. These ancient dogs were bred to guard and protect livestock and would do so with their lives. Where livestock lived in vast open places, the dogs wandered at will and looked upon this countryside as their territory and protected it accordingly. Thus Zack, like Monty before him, would consider whatever land he surveys as his own and would guard it accordingly.

Zack has just the most amazing hearing. Many times have I wondered why he was barking having not heard anything. Then, some minutes later, the source of his complaint would manifest itself, perhaps something as simple as someone arriving in a car, or a cat padding past. Pyreneans bark to warn. They are generally all bark and no bite – and Zack does a good job of warning us of any potential threats.

Writing about Monty has reminded me of the time he wandered off. Monty was still new to us then, and had only been living with us for a couple of days. That weekend, Sis came to visit and left the front door open while she went to her car to get something. And . . . Monty was off!

Loping easily along like a wolf, Monty headed toward the woods. Within seconds, our runaway had reached the main road and was in the act of crossing over, when Hubby – moving faster than I had ever seen him do in all the years of our marriage – leapt into our vehicle and chased after the dog. A healthy man would have taken 10 minutes to walk to the edge of the woods from our front door in Howgate, where we then lived. Monty took less than 3 minutes. Thankfully, Hubby had reached him by then in the 4×4 before he disappeared into the beech wood.

Mature beechwood in a strip beside the B6372.
The beech woods that Monty was going to disappear into! Photo © Copyright Richard Webb and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.

After this, we were always careful to keep Monty on a lead whenever he was outside the house. We also made very sure that we closed house doors behind us, as Pyreneans are escape artistes. Monty was our huge bundle of joy and laughter; but we could never trust him not to do a Houdini on us. It is simply in the Pyrenean nature to run free, whilst staking ownership of all the land these dogs see as their very own. As far as they are concerned, they are on their own land, aren’t they? And not lost or trespassing!

Zack is as protective as Monty, and we are just as careful about making sure that he never goes out without a lead. The same applies to Maddi, although she does not seem to be as territorial, possibly because of the type of abuse she had suffered as a pup before being rescued. Thus, it is Zack now which takes the lead in protecting his household, by which I mean the house, the land he sees around the house, and his family, that is, us.

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