I hate full moons

Surely I’m not the only person who hates full moons. Although beautiful to gaze upon, full moons provide all the light needed for animals to be up and about all night when they should be sleeping (so I can be sleeping). This includes grazing animals like sheep, deer and pronghorn, and all the things that eat grazing animals like coyote, bobcats, mountain lions, wolves, and bears (when not hibernating).

Last night was an example of my big moon problems – all was well, until I shot up in bed at 3 a.m., hearing the guard dog barking, realizing the sound was fading into the distance. That deep “woof, woof” was supposed to be booming under my bedroom window in the orphan lamb pen once known as my front yard, not fading as the dog ran away. Something was exciting enough that Rena fled the fenced yard and took off toward the river, about a mile from the house. I jumped in the truck and raced through the sagebrush, honking my horn to get her attention. I got her turned back toward the house and soon she was locked inside, lounging on the couch like this had been what she had meant to do all along. Jim and I stepped back out into the well-lit night and could hear what sounded like two other guard dogs barking from the river, about a mile from where our dogs should be with their sheep. We threw on longjohns and coveralls, grabbed a rifle, and headed for the sheep in the pickup, with the thermometer registering -18. We got to the sheep, and all was well there, but no guard dogs were present.

The New Fork River is now frozen, so it serves as a runway for predators and other animals. We drove a mile downriver and parked atop a cliff so I could call for the dogs. I could hear their frantic barks, but we couldn’t see them in the riverbottom. We warmed up in the truck and waited. Within a few minutes, I heard a gentle whine below the cliff, and soon Luv’s Girl came trotting up the trail. She jumped in the cab of the truck with us, but Rant was nowhere to be found. We sat in the truck with Luv’s Girl, getting out to holler for Rant every once in a while, but he never came. I could hear him bark every now and then, but he wouldn’t come to me. Once the moon dropped over the horizon about 4 a.m., Rant quit barking as it became very dark all the sudden.

We gave up on Rant, and took Luv’s Girl back to her sheep herd. By the time the alarm clock went off at 5 a.m., Jim was already on the couch watching news and drinking coffee. I crawled back into bed trying to convince myself I could sleep just a little longer, but it didn’t work. We ate breakfast and waited for daylight.

We didn’t find Rant for a few more hours into our next search. It seemed that everywhere we looked, we found coyote tracks as well as guard dog tracks. We didn’t cross the river to see what had happened, but could see through binoculars that some animal had been killed, and Rant was on guard next to the kill, keeping the birds away. It took some serious woo-ing to get Rant to leave his station and come the 1/2 mile to my call, but he finally did. We soon had him loaded up into my truck, and deposited safely back into his sheep herd.

The moon wasn’t even entirely full last night, but on nights when it is so bright, animals are really on the move. In the last two nights, I spotted a pack of three coyotes, a single coyote, and one black animal that I’m hoping like hell was a moose. I have no idea what prey animal was killed last night across the river, or what species did the killing. I do know that in hopes we’ll have a more restful sleep, tonight we’re going to go down to the cliffs above the river and fire off a few rounds, just to be noisy. Luv’s Girl hates the sound of guns, so that will keep her from traveling that direction, but we’re not sure about my hard-headed Rant. He knows he left a carcass, so if he wants to tangle with some coyotes tonight, he knows where to go.

You know, I wasn’t always like this – 25 years ago, I loved full moons. My soon-to-be-husband called them “lover’s moons” as we danced outside a honkey tonk on the wooden sidewalk, and camped on a mountainside without a tent. That was before we had duties, responsibilities, flocks to tend. That was before we knew what prowled in that shine emitted from the moon.

The photo above was taken this afternoon, once the two culprits were back in their sheep pasture. They spent part of the afternoon enjoying the sunshine next to the haystack.

19 thoughts on “I hate full moons”

  1. "…We got to the sheep, and all was well there, but no guard dogs were present."

    He shouldn't leave the sheep, as I understand, it is unusual behavior? The herd became an easy prey for hours…


  2. Still being in the hunter/gatherer stage, with only dogs in my care, rather than more vulnerable livestock, I REVEL in full moons! And I love them for a lot of the same reasons the coyotes/wolves/bears, etc. do–great visibility and no humans about! Roaming the forest at night in the company of canines(including some actual wolf-hybrids in the past), has gotten me accused of being a practicing lycanthrope! …..L.B.

  3. Eugene:
    Sometimes there are running battles between the dogs and predators up and down the river, and yes, sometimes the dogs leave the sheep, and sometimes only one dog leaves the sheep.

    Don't forget, this sheep herd also has guardian burros, so it is never completely unprotected.

    Anyway, this is the sort of thing that happens on full moons, or nearly full moons. That's why I hate full moons …

    Lane, yeah just rub it in. A pack of hounds, a riverbottom and a full moon is a great combination.

  4. I tried the semi-nomadic pastoralist thing for awhile with sheep and goats, but I reverted back some years ago……Sadly, in regards to my trailhounds and where I am living now(the subject of my next, much belated entry on this blog, in fact!), nightime is the ONLY time that it is safe to cast them, due to triggerhappy anti-hound types, and a preponderance of roads and traffic, the effects of which are much lessened(though never entirely gone, alas) after dark in the countryside. And the moonlight makes it absolutely glorious, indeed! The forest and the hills become another world in the moonlight, free from humans, who tend to be next-to-helpless in the woods at night, which all us wild critters soon learn….but never fear, Cat, I am old(especially by canine standards!) and my teeth are dull, but as a trap-wise old leader, I wisely steer my pack as far from tempting livestock and other potential confrontations with man as is possible! We definetely do NOT want to wake up irate citizens and provoke pursuit!…..L.B.

  5. Great read, I just shook at the idea of the cold you ran into.
    The words came off the page so graphic you could almost see what you saw..
    CAO really dont bond with the flock like mosts lGDS do.
    They seem to often bond to the territory & owners .Simply protecting the area in which they perceive as there's.
    Few yrs ago a working LGD/CAS heard a Cougar scream , when the owner came out the house with the gun she headed down to the pasture where a lone old dog was , the Estrela, Akbash and ASD stayed with the goats pushing them back into a secure area. The CAS left the herd and followed mom down to the pasture to get the dog.
    The dog never left her side. As nomads dogs and hunting wolfhounds this is normal. But it also makes it hard for them to exist in small farms in which their territory can be the neighbors yard.

  6. Jeannine:
    Well I haven't been around enough CAO to reach the conclusion you have. The dogs we've used have worked well. Just because they might bond differently doesn't mean they don't bond. And in this incident, Rant wasn't defending a territory – he was involved in a fight with predators. I can't imagine any of my dogs – no matter what breed – hearing an animal being killed by predators and not responding.

    Our livestock guardian dogs have taken over the canid niche in the winter pasture on the ranch, and it's fascinating to watch. I think the coyotes are starting to pair up and establish their own territories, so activity here is high between the predators and the guardians. This blue moon stuff is for the birds, I'm tellin' ya!

  7. Well that is what you are doing so much better and unique. Many now combine different LGDS as working dogs so they have dogs that stay close to home, dogs that bond to the sheep, dogs that take point, and dogs that will go out and hunt down a predator. Many now learn not one breed of dog can do it all.
    And combining them seems to be the best bet. But if all left and a wolf pack attacked , the wolves would be smarter than the Coyotes and split ranks thus sending some back to finish off what the dog left behind. So it will be interesting to see the pups grow and who they take after.

  8. Azit's main characteristic is that it is UNIVERSAL as LGD. They can work with other LGD breeds, but they really do not need it. The pack of four-five Aziats is enough for any LGD job.

    As to hunting – this is a part of their life, most of the year (except lambing season) they have to hunt their meat. They catch and eat rodents, foxes, sometimes (in packs) wild hogs. And I never heard that sheep are lost because dogs were on the hunt.

  9. One thing ive learned in studying dogs is _not 1 breed is perfect or "universal".
    Otherwise why have all the other 100 LGD breeds?If the CAS was the forefather of them all. Breeds were selected by man or created by modern man for specific purposes. Thus within any breed or landrace you will have variance. This is what makes the CAS unique.
    Different bloodlines can be found to select from be it security lines ( good pack dogs high human defense) Nomads LGD lines ( alpha pack dogs /lower human defense then other CAS /higher than US Great Pry) + fighting lines which simply wish to kill other dogs.
    When in breeding on any of these working traits u can produce too much of 1 thing + too little of the other. So in non native areas
    of the CAS- it makes more sense to use what she has working NOW.
    If working line of Akbash has traits better or equal then the CAO to cross them .
    Then to take a chance & inbreed on this line.( which I have as well) Or outcross to a line that may not give the correct behavior.
    Such as nurturing of the livestock and as she stated earlier in blog little to no human :aggression" .

    So I beg to differ unless breeders are using them as they are
    And lets nature select out the weaker from future breeding.
    Then modern breeders can not equate to natural selection & make assumptions Aziat's can do it all. Yes when breeders remove dogs from breeding that do not exhibit proper working qualities and health. Or predators remove weaker dogs from breeding.
    Then what is left will be the BEST Aziats . Till then since dog breeding for most is money making scheme . I simply say the breed I have is NOT the NON Euro answer to livestock work. They simply do not
    have enough bloodlines from working stock that exhibit the proper traits to work in smaller ranches in a sue friendly world.
    I do believe CAS are the best landrace of breeds in the world. But i know enough about dogs to state they are not UNIVERSAl as LGDS TODAY HERE.
    But are the ulimate for predator protection in the OLD world .
    Or for people who dont expect the dog to be lassie.

  10. "…why have all the other 100 LGD breeds?If the CAS was the forefather of them all…", "… they are not UNIVERSAl as LGDS TODAY HERE. .."

    Pure ignorance. In the countries of traditional Aziat use there are no other LGD breeds – in last 4000 years nobody needs them. To understand what LGD is and what part in LGD is the ancestry of Shepherd's dogs of Central Asia. – there is a piece of history and development of the breed here –

    "…today there are still much more than 100.000 Aziats in the traditional Aziat Land of former USSR (optimistic estimate is 200.000 dogs), plus dogs of Afghanistan and Northern Iran. These dogs are spread over territory bigger than all Western Europe. As to dogs in "non-traditional" regions, including Europe itself, we estimate Aziat population there as 20-30.000.
    And there also are about 200-300 Aziats in America… "


  11. Coming from a breeder who makes a living from breeding dogs , has no livestock ,who lives in PA is ignorance at its best.
    The reason we have tons of your breeding in rescue is you ignorance re limitations for this landrace NOT breed.
    This is not the wilds of Central Asia,.What is expected of a dog here is not the same.
    Linking to a made up club to help peddle more pups from unethical breeders such as yourself was expected thou.
    Since more pups need to be sold AFTER they are bred.
    At least some are honest and attempting to use dogs of any breed that work..
    Where your members cross Estrela mountain dogs to Aziat , defrauding the public by selling and showing them as PUREBRED.
    Till DNA proves otherwise.
    Honesty is best policy in dogs.
    I will go back to my sheep horses and 11 CAS and 1 Aziat the figthing dog from your lines and remind them they are the END all of LGDS. Especially the inbred figthing dog that likes to Attack and any all dogs for no reason.

  12. Sorry, Cat, but it was expected. This is a clinical case of deep hatred to everyone in the same breed, it goes for years.
    As to the Aziats and their offsprings, working at your ranch and Pit's – we have many other places to talk about them.
    For information about the breed – if anybody is really interested – I can recommend the site of ANCA,
    Also if anyone is interested in the breed, please come with your questions to the new forum


  13. Hatrid of humans who abuse animals?
    So sorry if that offends you.
    Any ethical breeders knows you can breed 2 working dogs be it herding, hunting, livestock guardian, PP work, etc yet NOT all pups from every litter will CUT it as a working dog. This is based on
    most purebreds created by many years of specified selection for uniform type as well as working abilities.
    Now you take a landrace of breeds known as Aziat Ovcharka to Russia, Tobet, Koochee, Alabai, Gamper, CAS to the many countries with different varities based on different functions all bred under same standard. Some for human protection of factories, some for dog figthing every weekend, and oher for livestock work. And yet
    you expect all these breeds/types
    to be the UNINVERSAL LGD.
    NO matter where the livestock is located? Okay this is no beter than a infomercial stating this diet pill does it all.

    The hatrid bit to excuse your and your partners poor breeding practices is getting old.
    I have sold dogs to Russian families past present and future.
    I am friends with the top Russian People in the breed. So sorry that you seem to think I should make exceptions to your poor illegal treatment of dogs because you are a self deemed expert based on being born in Russia a non native country for the breeds.
    Maybe Americans created the Buffalo vs finding it here after country was taken away from the Indians.
    Anyone really interested please visit http://www.petfinder.org and click Caucasian Ovcharka u wll find 2 Aziats from this breeder,plus more from his members
    sacremento rescue.
    Why buy from breeders who dont resuce their own dogs ? adopt and save a life .

  14. Jeannine and Eugene: I really don't care what history and controversy exists between the two of you, but I must insist you not use this blog for continuing that practice. If you want to continue to post comments, stick to the topic at hand, and don't engage in personal attacks.

    Jeannine, two ranches here in western Wyoming now have Eugene's dogs and love them because they do good work. Please understand that to remain welcome here, stick to the blog topics rather than using this blog for attacking others. LGDs are wonderful animals that we can learn a great deal from.

  15. "…He knows he left a carcass, so if he wants to tangle with some coyotes tonight, he knows where to go."

    Cat, what was the end of the story? Did Rant go across the river once more, were there any new coyote tracks on your side, near sheep?


  16. Actually, I intervened since they had gone to the other side of the river. As it turns out, Luv's Girl is in heat, so I have her chained up at night, free during the day. Rant does not leave her side. I'm afraid with the female in season, these two would decide to travel and harass neighbors on the other side of the river, especially with the full moon.
    No coyote tracks near the sheep, just everywhere else.

  17. If you cain't beat 'em, join 'em, Cat! Sounds like an EXCELLENT excuse to acquire MORE DOGS to me–I know if I was in your shoes, that's what I would do–get me a pack of trailhounds and some catch dogs(some good hunting stock Airedales, for example), and get out there every full moon and have a great time listening to hounds running the coyotes all over the countryside! Keep the coyotes so busy they don't have time to bother the sheep! And then, of course in the daytime, you MUST have another pack of sighthounds to course with! Or advertise and CHARGE $$$ for other dog nuts to do it! I wish I lived closer, if you invited me, I'd make those coyotes dread the full moon instead!….L.B.

  18. Then again, after a visit or two from me and the hounds, you might not think the coyotes are such bad neighbors after all! It's all just purspektive….L.B.

  19. Cat sorry for late reply.
    Had horse go down.
    I was talking of temperament and
    find the 100;s of CAS i worked with are simply NOT universal.
    I am happy they and you are happy.
    Your posts are honest and not politcal. However please understand I have NEVER met this man, I dont have any personal conflict with him.
    I only rescue his casts offs,& deal with the dozens of unhappy owners in tears.
    You see if we had more owners like you with working homes we would have less rescues and tears.
    They need a job without one they get into trouble.
    My brother loved his Schnoodle despite her too coming from a puppymill .My 1st CAS is from his line 2 yrs before he got the line from my breeder his partner.
    I love her like my own she saved me from a rabid coyote attack.
    She just turned 13.
    Loving a dog does not make a breeder good or bad does it?
    I learned to separate the love of my dog from the animals abuse the breeder of these dogs have been found guility of long ago.


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