Why not to get a Pyrshep?
Vigo's adolescence horror stories
I decided to add some real life stories about Vigo, because when you are saying that Pyrsheps are slow to mature and that their adolescence is really horrible, people will just say "ye, ye, that's typical for herding breeds" and don't really get it. So here it goes, real life examples:
1. When Vigo was in the worst period of adolescence, like 7-9 months old, he would just start staring into nothing all of a sudden and wouldn't react to me talking to him. That was scary as hell, as I though maybe he's getting petite mal seizures or something. And it was annoying as hell when I tried to train anything with him.
2. We once went to a competition and there were trash bins nearby the competition building. Several of them were placed together and they were o.k., one was slightly further away and was SCARY!!! Vigo barked at it and wouldn't come close to it and was terrified of it. So I found myself petting the thrash bin, saying "good trashbin, good trashbin".
3. I had louvers in my windows and I opened them every day in the morning and I closed them every day in the evening. One morning, when Vigo was over year old (so he witnessed the whole process like over 400 times by then) he suddenly decided the louvers were there to get him. He was paralised with fear - panting, not taking treats, not reacting to any commands. It took me over 2 weeks to get him used to them again - and I started with feeding him in the other room while someone moved the louvers in the first room across the hallway.
4. We're at the big dog show with lots of people, dogs etc. Vigo was really great about all that, but then he saw a small metal three-step ladder, which again - was very very VERY dangerous and wanted to kill him. Lots of cheesecake went into convincing him he could actually survive in the proximity of this ladder.
5. I sometimes took him to work with me and he was really nice with my coworkers and they petted him and everything was okay. Then my coworked went to the hall and came back in her raincoat and she was now a total stranger and he barked at her like crazy and wouldn't calm down for minutes. BTW, he still does it when we have guests and they go to the toilet and then when they come out, they are strangers and he barks at them.
I can't really remember everything by now. There were countless situaltions when he got scared of something that he was totally okay with before. There were hundreds of situations where he got scared of something which noone apart from him could see. There were dozens of situations at the agility competitions when it started raining for instance and the judge would wear a hood and Vigo would go and bark at the judge and so on. Mind you, these situations became less and less frequent as he matured and since he turned about 3, we almost never have them (apart from guests going to toilet and he still is convinced that sofa cushions are assasins ready to kill him any moment). But at some time, they were driving me nuts and I wasn't so sure they were going to pass. The worst thing was they were totally unpredictable: one day he was a perfect dog, the other he was some weirdo from another planet who has never seen a car, a human or a tree in his life. You just never knew.
Opinions of people who don't want a Pyrshep EVER
More and more people are asking me about puppies, asking me to recommend a breeder etc. Many of them want a dog "for agility" and they think it's a good choice as some Pyrsheps are really succesful in the sport right now, It scares the shit out of me, because they don't see all the hard work that went into training of this dogs and more importantly, they don't see the dogs that didn't become as succesful. Also, I really think popularity is never good thing for any breed and Pyrsheps are not for everybody. Of course all the reputable breeders of any breed would tell you just that, and that's true, but I still think that there are easier breeds on this planet...
But then I realised that no matter how hard I would try to discourage people from getting a Pyrshep, I'm not really convincing, because, you see, I've got five of them and it's the breed of my life and I love them to pieces and I find their antics rather amusing. So together with my friend Natalia, owner of Pyrshep Joy, we came to the idea that we should ask people who know the breed quite well and DON'T WANT one to express their opinion on why it is not a breed for everybody :). So here it goes:
- because they bark even more than my Fama (Fama is a mixed breed and she barks a lot. I mean A LOT),
- because they steal food even more than Fama,
- because they would jump on you all of a sudden,
- because when you want to cuddle with them, they don't want to cuddle,
- because they only look cute after you anesthesise them (LOL),
- you might want want after spending some time with Brava, but then you look at Vigo or all of them together and you're cured ;).
Natalia's friend Ania
My pyrshep friends asked me to write this, because they realized that even though they know the breed really well, they are so much in love with it that they cannot really discourage anyone from getting a Pyrshep. And a Pyrshep is really not a dog for everybody. I should perhaps mention that I’m a terrier lover myself, especially the bull-type terriers. I own a Bedlington terrier and for me it’s the ideal of a dog. But my friend loves the shepherd group, she has a Shetland sheepdog and a Pyrenean Sheepdog and as we see each other every day, all dogs are “ours”. Also, thanks to her I’ve been observing agility trainings and competitions and gone for walks with border collies, mallinois etc. so I got some knowledge of the herding group characteristics and temperament.
My friend got a Pyrenean Sheepdog almost by chance – she was waiting for a puppy of different breed, something didn't went well, she found out there were Pyrshep puppies somewhere else, talked to a few people and so we got Joy. My knowledge of the breed was minimal, I just thought it would be like an easier and smaller Border Collie. Oh, the naïve me! So my friend brought the lovely puppy and I fell in love with the little hamster and was sure it would grow to be the sweetest doggy on the planet. As Natalia gives her dogs lots of socialization and training, I was sure there wouldn’t be any problems… but it turned out soon that with a Pyrshep, nothing is as with a “normal” dog. Even now, when Joy is 3 years old, for me she is difficult to live with and before she turned 18 mo I really couldn’t understand what was going on in her head and what was the reason for her reactions.
I should perhaps add that I used to foster for a dog aggressive amstaff-like and now I have a poodle-type dog, who was really fearful when I got him (he was afraid of grass, stairs, people, dogs, buses, traffic – everything and he still has separation anxiety). I’m really patient with dogs and I find it satisfactory to work with them but… one week with Joy and we’re both candidates for mental asylium.
She is really really sensitive and also reactive and energetic. So if she gets paranoid over something, she is as energetic in her reactions. But that’s not the main problem. The main problem is that usually I don’t have a clue what it is all about. She would walk by something 100 times without noticing it and then it’s the 101st time and she is deadly scared of it. Sometimes we’re in the woods, walking calmly and all of a sudden she starts barking at the sky, frightened. You are supposed to back off with a dog from a situation that it’s obviously too much for him or her, but what you are supposed to do when you don’t know what is causing the stress? And then one minute later the world is fine again, because, oh, look, there is a butterfly! Her mood changes quickly and she is full of contradictions. On one hand, she can’t focus on a piece of meat right in front of her nose, but when she is doing nose touches, she is so focused that you could throw the meat in her and she wouldn’t move. She has problems with self-control, like she knows she can’t lick me (I don’t allow any dog to do that) but she HAS TO. You can see she is trying to stop herself from doing so, but she is very impulsive. Plus, she has enourmous problems with independent thinking which made it practically impossible to teach her anything using shaping in the past. If you shut her in a room by accident, she won’t let you know she is there – apparently she thinks if someone locked her there, she is supposed to sit there forever. There is one exception – she will make her own decision about what she is afraid of and how to react in this situation. The worst thing is, you never know would cause such and such behavior, you cannot predict how she would feel in a given situation. You can’t even assume that working regularly on some problem would solve it as very often you don’t know the root cause of it. Natalia was pretty depressed for some time because of Joy and she was wondering whether she would be able to help this dog and whether training agility with her made any sense whatsoever and whether she wasn’t just suffering with her. Now they really have super relationship and Joy rocks on agility course and you can look at them and think "I want one too", but you cannot see all the tears and sweat that went into it and hours of hard work which seemed pointless at some stage because even some trainers said it made no sense. I know that Joy is really nice for a Pyrshep – and that scares me even more. You can’t really count on it that you will get a Pyrshep like Brava, because it’s maybe 1% of the population. One should assume one would get a dog that is really difficult to live with and hard to train and then maybe one would be nicely surprised (but I doubt that). For me Pyrsheps should live in the country, with their meadows, their flock and their family and holy peace. In the city there are too many distractions, stressors and stimuli that it is very often too much for them.
I wouldn’t recommend a Pyrshep to ANYONE, unless he or she is a masochist. But I would advise them to first spend a week with some Pyrsheps and not those super-dooper Pyrsheps, but just the average Pyrsheps (that is not very stable, open and courageous, because they are just not like this). Pyrsheps are weirdos and you should be as weird to get one. I really think that there are few people ready for such a sensitive dog with such a strange, un-dog-like mentality – because when there is a problem, sometimes even behaviorist would be helpless, not to mention an average owner, who would be alone with the problem and a dog who is difficult to live with. A dog that in training might bring you more frustrations and discouragement than satisfaction – and let’s be honest – most people who want a Pyrshep want them for sport.
will just add that I take care of Joy very often and even though she knows me from puppyhood she is not as stable with me as she is with her owner, Natalia. She could be afraid whole day and I
don’t know why. She could start barking without reason – and I don’t know why. She can eliminate in the middle of the room, even though we’ve just come back rom a walk (during which she barked at
all people and dogs) – and I don’t know why or how to help her.
This text was meant to discourage you from getting a pyrshep, so I won’t tell about the good traits for this breed, but I would like to say that I love Joy (even though after 3 years she is still afraid to walk through a hall with tiles) and I'm writing all that because I would hate a dog like this to come to live with someone who would just suffer with them and vice versa.