It wouldn’t be 2020 without a good dose of medical drama on the farm! Before we get into the details, it’s important to know that our farm operates as a predator friendly farm, which is largely made possible by the Anatolian Shepherds we have as guard dogs. Finn, Hazel and Chile recently turned 6 years old and are a huge part of our success. These dogs are nocturnal and spend the nights running patrols around the property doing perimeter checks to ensure no threatening creatures have entered the premises. They are trained to do 3-4 full perimeter runs each night and work together to ensure every part of the farm is threat free. Together the dogs can take on small predators like coyotes, but also larger predators like mountain lions and bears. Because of our Anatolian Shepherds, we’ve never lost an alpaca to a predator.
In March, our alpha dog, Chile, had an ACL repair surgery. James and Sarah were a bit nervous and reluctant about taking him in for an operation because the last time they had a dog need an ACL repair, he ended up dying during the procedure. However, Bozeman recently brought on a board certified Veterinary Orthopedic Surgeon, so they decided to go ahead with the procedure. The vet ended up putting 2 plates and 12 screws into Chile’s knee. A week later, Chile bent two plates, fractured some screws and broke his tibia. He had to be inside 100% of the time, which was a huge change for the 160lb dog who was born to live outside, patrolling and protecting the herd. Not long after all of this happened, Chile started to limp again. We were really worried that the surgery wasn’t successful, but it turned out that he had a serious bacteria infection. The vet cleaned everything out and treated the infection, but it took Chile 2 months to recover. Even this fall we could tell his gait was a little off as he walked around, but not in any concerning ways--he just needed time to heal. We were doing lots of dog physical therapy with him all spring and summer. Most of this looked like helping him with mobility, taking him on walks and walking with him up and down hills to try and regain his strength. He got up to successfully walking 6 miles at a fast pace, but then about 2 weeks ago he started slowing down and limping again. We took him back into the vet and the same bacteria infection had come returned. A few of the screws had broken again, but the bone was totally healed, so he recently went in for surgery to pull out all of the screws and plates. The vet gave us a promising prognosis, so hopefully by the new year he will be back at his job again. Chile is our Alpha Anatolian, so without him the dynamic has been weird for the other two dogs, Hazel and Finn. Luckily, the bears are all sleeping and the mountain lions don’t usually travel at this time of year, so there aren’t any large predator threats and Finn and Hazel can handle smaller predators like coyotes on their own. The vet gave us a good prognosis and Chile’s spirits are up, so we’re hoping for a quick recovery!
We will keep you all updated as Chile regains his strength and gets back to work!