Guard Dog Possibility - photos added
He's 5 years old, has been raised with sheep. He's good with sheep, children, cats, other farm animals. He's excellent with newborn lambs, and never was aggressive to sheep.
I went to meet him the other day and he's very mellow...
The only things holding me back from snapping him up are:
1.) his history of arthritis in a back leg (he can't jump fences anymore)
2.) my lack of previous experience with any kind of guard dog.
3.) my husband doesn't think we need a guard dog since we've never had any losses in the 8 years we've had sheep here.
#1 makes me nervous about possible vet bills in the future. The previous owners have given him glucosamine pills in the past, but now just an aspirin when he's stiff and sore. They say it's been a long time since he's needed any aspirin. They say having a shelter for him in the coldest months of the year keeps in better shape. They say he can run, but when I saw him he was very laid back. I saw him walk and he wasn't limping at all.
#2 is most compelling, I'm not really a dog person. I'm not as stern as I need to be to keep a dog submissive. I've read that these breeds are very smart and need someone who can keep them in line as they can have a mind of their own.
I say #3 is pure luck in combination with the Australian Shepherd marking the area. We had a coyote within 50 feet of our barn right before lambing in 2008 and a cougar was spotted just north of us (about 3/4 mile) right before lambing this past spring. There are bears in the woods adjacent to our paddocks. And our neighbors have a penchant for taking in and caring for other people's dogs for months on end.
What you guys think? I need to make up my mind or let someone else take him.