One of the best parts of working on MBDP is getting to see the whole process of Bankhar being born, growing up, developing their personalities, bonding with livestock, and transforming from small, delicate pups into strong, healthy, intelligent adults. Certainly humans have had an age-old bond with dogs, and I have even had a dog for a pet when I was growing up. There’s an extra bit of wonder when the dog you’re taking care of serves another purpose – when you’re raising it to do a very special job.
Right now our pups are between 1 and 2 months old, from three different litters. Already their personalities and proclivity for curiosity are shining through. Orsilla’s puppies, the eldest litter, are already able to live without their mother and eat solid food. Now that they are bigger and able to explore around their enclosure, they’re getting used to walking among the livestock and interacting with them peacefully. This is a very important part of a young livestock guardian dog’s life – bonding to the animals that they will be expected to protect is critical in their development.
We’ve been developing our whelping protocol since the beginning of our project to make sure the pups are properly socialized with humans (to listen to commands, not aggressive to their owner or other people), but not overly bonded to humans either. We’ve learned a lot over the last few years about how much attention to give pups to strike this balance, and hopefully will result in continuing successful placements with herders.
Keep an eye out for more puppy updates as we great ready to start placing them with herders!
Photo credit to Batbaatar Tumurbaatar and Zoë Lieb.