Category Archive 'Guardian Dogs'

08 Jun 2022

Film Crew Visits Cat Urbigkit

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Cat Urbigkit operates a sheep ranch in Western Wyoming. She has imported a variety of guardian dogs, particularly exotic Central Asian breeds, to protect her flocks from wolves. And she frequently blogs about her adventures.

Recently, Cat reluctantly allowed a film company to visit, and she describes amusingly the interesting time she had preventing the urban-based film crew members from getting eaten by her dogs. Those are big, strong dogs.

This year, we were contacted by a production company working on a science-based series focused on the intersection of people and predators. I liked what seemed to be their honest curiosity about the issue and its complexities, and we agreed to host the film crew. Their visit coincided with our lambing season, and my family scrambled to have all the ranch work covered while my time would be spent with the visitors.

I met with the first two crew members to explain what to expect. As they drove into the lambing grounds, if a lamb suddenly jumped up and ran toward their vehicle, please stop, shut off the vehicle and wait for a ewe to retrieve the lamb.

That happened numerous times, as newborn lambs, startled by the sudden stimuli, raced toward the moving object. While the crew stopped and waited, ewes approached to claim their babies, giving an opportunity for filming the close bond and communication between lambs and their mothers.

I also explained that the sudden presence of a group of people approaching the lambing flock would not been seen by the livestock guardian dogs as a welcome presence, but as a threat or intrusion in the otherwise tranquil landscape.

The last time a film crew came to the ranch, a videographer tried to follow behind a guardian dog while holding a large piece of recording equipment low to the ground, getting a dog-level view. The dog, Panda, had barked and warned the guy to back off, but when he persisted, I had to quickly step in as the enraged dog wheeled around to take out the equipment.

I shared that story with the new film crew, so they were careful enough with Panda, but when one filmmaker tried a similar maneuver with guardian dog Harriet, I once again had to jump in front of the filming to intercept Harriet as she lunged to take down the equipment stalking her. {For the record, Harriet’s full name is Harriet the Horrible, and she suffers no fools among her flock with its newborn lambs.}

It quickly became apparent that Panda still held a grudge against film crews, so I ended up driving him to our camp where he was tethered away from the visitors. Harriet generally sulked amid her sheep, tolerating the crew since I was present. The other dogs either watched from scattered locations in the brush with their sheep, or left to chase coyotes.


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