Yesterday’s post was either prescient or fate-tempting. When I brought Bravo his breakfast this morning, I found him eating a lamb.
I tried to take the remaining half of the lamb away from him, but he snarled and lunged at me; I returned with a T-post to help Bravo understand that his cooperation was not optional.
Once I had gotten past the chaotic moment — lamb remains out of reach of the dogs and Bravo tied off to the fence — I tried to think about what had happened and how I had contributed to the morning’s disaster. It seemed clear that one of the ewes in the pasture with him had lambed overnight, and Bravo availed himself of the easy meal. I knew that Bravo shouldn’t be trusted around small lambs, but I had assumed that the ewes with him were not so close to lambing. In retrospect, this was wishful thinking, motivated by already having a barn full of sheep; I was hoping for a little more time to finish the current round of lambing before the next round began. I should also have taken the smaller incidents with Bravo more seriously. He’s been antsy and bored and taking more liberties with the sheep than I should have tolerated, but it’s so easy to let magical thinking creep in. Bravo had been showing signs of calming down and getting more serious about guarding his sheep, so I wanted to dismiss his recent behavior as a little hiccup in a generally positive trend.
I’m now left wondering whether I have a typical adolescent Maremma who needs more structure and guidance before he emerges as a mature herding dog, or if Bravo has taken some darker turn from which he may not emerge. His aggression toward me left me pretty unsettled. I’m struggling to operate with the clarity of hindsight while looking forward.