The Wahkiakum County Eagle - Established as The Skamokawa Eagle in 1891

Working dogs are protectors of livestock


October 17, 2019

To The Eagle

On Sept. 25, I was sitting in my barn office at around 10 p.m. I heard a deep growl directly under my window. I looked and there stood a coyote. The coyote saw me as a threat and gave me a warning.

According to The Eagle’s sheriff reports, barking dogs are a recurring problem on the island. People who move onto the island have got to understand they moved to a heavy agriculture area. Yes, we have dogs. Our dogs bark. The majority of the Islanders, however, do not understand where the problem is.

Most of these dogs are working dogs. They remain with the livestock and warn the owners of problems. Many of these dogs are not pets. They are not socialized because people could deter them from their focus. They won’t hurt you as long as you stay off their territory. Just keep walking. The owners are watching. Working dogs come in a variety of breeds depending on the livestock. These dogs are expensive but not as expensive as the loss of the owner’s livelihood.

Here is an example: we have neighbors who consistently have the sheriff’s office called on them. A couple of weeks ago, about 6 a.m., her dogs began barking. This caused a chain reaction causing many dogs to bark. My husband ran outside just in time to find our German Shephard mix run after a coyote. About a week later, coyotes ran through our pasture. My grandchildren were “camping” on the back porch. Again, all the dogs in the area began barking. In the commotion of everything, we hadn’t noticed our new blue healer puppy followed a coyote. We were able to retrieve the puppy but it was a close call. We have neighbors on both sides who share a fence line with us. Collectively, we raise horses, donkeys, mules, etc. We have been able to thwart coyotes off all three properties because the dogs began barking.

If you moved to this area for peace and quiet, you obviously didn’t research agricultural living and; I’m afraid you made a mistake. Surrounding most of our properties are valuable livestock. These are not quiet animals. These may not be peaceful sounds to you but to us these noises are pure bliss. The sounds of protecting dogs, to most of us, are comforting regardless of the time.

Whose dogs are barking? All of our dogs. After almost 65 years of living with coyotes, I assure you, they are also barking. It’s one of the many tricks coyotes use to lure their prey. For me, I grew up with coyotes. A coyote under my window isn’t frightening to me. However, one growling at me is alarming. The next time dogs are barking, check around your yard as well as your neighbors. There is no guarantee you’ll see anything but I assure you, the barking dogs know. So, instead of turning on your neighbors, let’s get together to turn on predators who threaten our livestock, pets, and people. For all my neighbors who own dogs that help protect us and ours; thank you. We’ve got your backs.

Evonne Wagner-Sears

Puget Island


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