Thursday, September 24, 2015

Winston the Working Dog


I am so sad to share with you all that Winston, our Great Pyrenees Livestock Guard Dog has passed away. 


Winston was such a fantastic dog - a kind and gentle soul. Winston's job here at the farm was to guard our sheep from predators - mostly coyotes who are a continual source of anguish and loss of life here at our farm. He slept outside, mostly during the day. At night, he patrolled our fields, barking constantly to keep the coyotes away from our sheep. 


Our Border Collies Ness and Kate are here for a different reason - to herd our sheep. The two breeds of dogs are so different - their personalities, their demeanor. It is really amazing to live with such fine animals who are still doing what their breeds were developed to do. 


Winston arrived with his brother Archie in November of 2011. You can see more photos of them as young boys here. In fact you all helped to name the two boys and some of you even donated to the fund that helped to pay for the pups. Sadly we found Archie dead one day when he was just a year old. 


Winston's purpose here at our farm was to guard our sheep from the coyotes. That is what his breed - the Great Pyrenees has done for over 14,000 years. 



Winston did an excellent job for 4 years - we barely lost an animal when he was on the top of his game. A few months ago, we noticed a swelling in one of his front knees. We had the vet check him over - thinking it was a fracture or something. On the vet's second visit, she mentioned the possibility of bone cancer since it is so common in large dogs. Winston lived on through the summer guarding the sheep, barking all night long. 


Last week, I could tell his time had come. I sat with him outside for several evenings, petting his thick coat, making him feel like the special guy we was. I tearfully called Amy, our vet, and she put him to rest. Mark dug a giant hole with the bucket of the tractor and we laid him in and covered him with brown soil. Winston is next to Paisley and Phoebe, two of our working Border Collies. 

I remember when we first got Winston and Archie. We were told not to socialize with them nor make them part of the family. The sheep were their charges. Winston took care of the sheep in his own gentle way and still was part of our family. I love this selfie I took of him and me one snowy winter day. After the photo, he knocked me over in the snow and I lay there laughing. Such a lovable, sweet gentle dog even if he weighed 170 pounds. It's a good thing the coyotes didn't know that his bark was way worse than his bite. 



It's an end of the Winston era here at Leyden Glen Farm. Thank you Big, Beautiful Boy of Mine. We all miss you. XO  


61 comments:

Margo said...

I'm so very sorry for your loss.

gale (she shoots sheep shots) said...

That's so sad, Kristin. Such a good loyal sweet dog. I'm sorry for you all.

Sally said...

My sister and I were just talking about Winston and Archie Tuesday evening when we were out to dinner together. She had just been to an alpaca farm where they had gp guards like Winston. I'm so sorry for your loss, Kristin. What a beautiful boy he was!

Susan said...

It's always hard to lose someone you love. And because you helped us know him, we loved him too. I'm so sorry for your loss.

Nina Martin-Anzuoni said...

Sorry for your loss Kristin. It sounds as he brought love to your family as well as safety to the flock.

Marlaine said...

I'm so sorry for your family's loss Kristin. I loved seeing pictures of Winston and Archie and I can't imagine how hard this is for you. He was such a wonderful dog and did his job so well. Hugs to you all.

kingshearte said...

Oh boo. I'm sorry to hear this. :(

Lisa Viviano said...

I know how hard it is when the time comes to say goodbye to our loving and hardworking little family members. So very sorry for your loss.

thecrazysheeplady said...

{{{hug}}}

Tricia Neron said...

I am so very sorry for your loss, he seemed like such a gentle sweet soul.

xo

Laura from beautiful West Michigan said...

So hard to lose a dog friend. My sympathies to your family.

ellen said...

What a painful loss for all of you. I am so sorry. He certainly was such a good and loving presence in your life.

Anonymous said...

So very sorry to hear your sad news. It is very obvious that Winston was loved and well cared for all of his life-doing just exactly what he wanted and was created to do.

Laura T said...

I remember when Winston and Archie became members of your family. What beautiful dogs. I'm so sorry for your family's loss. I always loved your stories about Winston.
LauraT

Ellen said...

RIP wet Winston. So sorry for your loss, Kristen.

Anonymous said...

I'm so sorry to hear this, Kristin. What a beautiful dog.
Patricia/Toronto

Running with a sharp pencil said...

I love this breed. My son has a female Pyrenees and my daughter has a half Pyrenees, half Rottweiler named Cowboy. He looks like Clifford the big red dog! Cowboy found a small puppy and brought it to my daughter in his mouth and gently laid it at her feet. He patrols the perimeter of the farm every night. There is no happier animal than a working dog, allowed to do their job. Peace and comfort to you. I'll miss seeing Winston's photos!

Kathy said...

Kristin, I'm so sorry for the loss of your beautiful and smart Winston. It made me tear up thinking of how much our animals mean to us, and even more so when they work with you side by side on a farm.

Lee said...

Even knowing it was coming doesn't make this any easier. I am so sorry for your loss. He was a wonderful guy!

Dianne@sheepdreams said...

I'm so sorry, Kristin. Working dogs are such an important part of our farm families and they make their way right into our hearts with their loyalty and hard work. I know you will all miss him and I hope you find another to step into his job of protecting your flock.

Savannagal said...

I'm so sorry to hear about your loss. He was a terrific dog and I enjoyed knowing him over the airwaves. Thank you for sharing his life with the world.

Corina Sahlin said...

Awwwww, I am so sad for you. What a beautiful and loyal guy he was.
They leave a hole in our hearts when they are gone...
My 15 year old dog Pluto doesn't have much time left... so maybe he and Winston are gonna chase each other in doggie heaven.
Blessings to you...

grahamcrackerzz said...

So sorry for your loss. Dogs are the best, whether they are working dogs or just household friends. Sending lots of love and hoping you keep his memories alive in your heart.

Val said...

I am so sorry ...he looks like he was a lovely dog and very happy.


Anonymous said...

~ So sad. What a sweetheart of a dog. I love the 2nd photo of him, closeup, shows his beautiful face. Hugs to you.
Shell ~

Bev Reed said...

I am so sorry for your loss--my heart goes out to you��--

Val said...

you have probably read this ..but just in case I'll add a link ..it's older data but perhaps could help in a search for breeding in strains with better longevity (please excuse me adding this link but My neighbor has a Wonderful wolfhound with the kindest disposition whose parents are both deceased at 4 and so these issues are at the forefront of our minds at the moment)
http://www.gpcahealth.org/PDF/Survey%202006.pdf
It's a health survey from The Great Pyrenees club of America I don't know what they have concluded from this and/or discovered since.

Jules Means said...

Awww. Sorry to hear this news. When I first saw the post I thought I was reading about Archie again in an older post. it's just too heartbreaking to know you've lost Winston, too. :( -Jules

P. Joans said...

I am so sorry for your loss! I am sure his spirit is at peace - he lived a full life and I only wish it could have gone on longer.
All peaceful thoughts to you
Phyllis Howe

Karen Budnick said...

So sorry for your loss. It's impossible for a dog-lover like you to remain detached, even though Winston was an "employee". I know what you meant in your post. I also know that most dogs are happiest if they have a "job" so I'm sure he was a happy guy.

Auntie Shan said...

:-{
{{hugs}}

Anonymous said...

So sorry - hugs. Such a beautiful boy.

annie

Peggy said...

So sorry to hear this news about Winston. I always enjoyed hearing about him and seeing photos of him watching his sheep. One of our Goldens died of osteosarcoma. It is very sad especially since he was still young. Feeling for you all and am sure the sheep are missing him, too.

Anonymous said...

I'm so sorry. "The Decison" is the hardest part about having a pet.

Suzi Barnes said...

I am so sorry about Winston. I love looking at all the pictures of the animals at your farm. He was a cutie and will be missed.

mary kate witry said...

i am so sorry for your loss. What an amazing companion.

Cheryl Rezendes said...

So sorry about Winston Kristin. Your time with him was too short.
I met him only once but saw him to be a dear beast of a guy. I so love the
selfie you took. It brings a smile to my face imagining you flat out in the snow afterwards!

susie @ persimmon moon cottage said...

I was sorry to read about Winston. He was such a great dog. I know you, and your sheep, will miss him.

Anonymous said...

So sorry for your loss. Thank you for sharing the lovely photos.

ellen kirkendall said...

I'm sorry; it's way too soon to lose that beautiful dog.

Sally said...

So sorry for your loss. I lost a 5 year old Irish Wolfhound to bone cancer. So hard... Big dogs are so sweet.

Kimberly said...

It is never easy....so sorry.

Kimberly said...

It is never easy....so sorry.

Gerri said...

Such a beautiful dog-I'm so sorry!

Cathy G. said...

Dear Kristin:

How very sad to lose the second of this wonderful pair. I have so enjoyed the images of Winston and Archie in the past few years and their lifetimes seemed so sadly brief. Even though you were cautioned about not becoming too attached, how could you not fall in love with these guys? I, too, have an extra large breed dog (110 lbs. plus) and I share the concerns about these large and loving animals having abbreviated lives. My sympathies to you and your family. Please keep up all your creative work and may your fantastic farm prosper. We are pulling for you...

~Cathy G.

Patty said...

So very sorry to say "good-bye" to Winston:(

Pammie said...

What a beautiful dog - it would be hard not to get attached to such a loyal and hardworking animal - hard, I'm sure - to lose him

knitster said...

Sorry for your loss. He was a beautiful dog. Thanks for sharing him with us.

Louise Cady-Fernandes said...

Kristen i'm so sorry that you've lost your beautiful Winston. What a wonderful tribute to him. The little kitty that you gave us is such a joy. I told Tom that he's my favorite can't we've ever had and he said that I always say this but I think it's true. We named him Moses Malone after the NBA basketball player who died the day after we brought him home I think it is fitting for a kitty who started out in life named Muscles. Thank you again! I loved reading your latest decorating with color book that I have by my side and cannot wait to eat the leg of lamb from your farm that's in our freezer. Xo

bookagent said...

I'll add my condolences to your family on the loss of Winston. I loved seeing the pictures of him, such a beautiful dog. I know he will be missed.
Pam

Anonymous said...

Hello Kristin, Having had (and lost) two golden retrievers I shed a tear over your loss of Winston. These dogs are such loyal, loving and hard-working beings! They fill our lives with delight but leave such an emptiness when they pass...........
I live on a farm where coyotes (and wolves are moving in) and other predators are a problem so I hope you will be able to secure another four-legged shepherd for your flock. My condolences, Roxanne

Jen said...

So sorry for your loss. We all loved Winston, too and I'm thankful that you shared him with us over the years. Take care.

Deb and Robin said...

I'm so sorry Kristen! He was a beautiful boy & I'll miss seeing your beautiful pictures of him.

Jean said...

R.I.P. Winston. One of life's toughest hurdles. He was beautiful.

Midnite Baker said...

My condolences to you and your family. I'm sure Winston and Archie are having fun on the other side of the Rainbow Bridge. Take Care. M

Chris said...

I'm so sorry to read about the lost of Winston. I'm sitting here with tears running down my face. My condolences to you and your family.

Jessica said...

Oh goodbye Winston. There are lots of sheep in heaven, where all dogs go of course! The Pyr section must come with magic earplugs, as barking is a sure requirement! I loved seeing Winston do what comes naturally,

Jessica said...

Oh goodbye Winston. There are lots of sheep in heaven, where all dogs go of course! The Pyr section must come with magic earplugs, as barking is a sure requirement! I loved seeing Winston do what comes naturally,

ebysea said...

So, so sorry for your loss! What a good and beautiful boy he was! Thank you for sharing him over the years with all of us!

Kathleen C. said...

This is a beautiful tribute to a beautiful soul.

Francine Michaud said...


I'm so sorry to hear about the loss of your Winston, Krisin. Gawd, was he a BEAUTIFUL dog! It gets a bit easier to bare with time so hang in there. What a blessing his life was and he was lucky to have you and your family. The best this life can offer.