Meet Raya

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Raya is our English Shepherd. Deron and I are finding and have found that we are talking her up all the time. Raya is a lovely English Shepherd and our "farm dog". This page will be a work in progress. Most of the photos of Raya are actually photos of other animals. There is a reason for that....she keeps an eye on everything here. No matter who I am training or what we are doing, she wants to be with us and keep an eye on things. Many times we have taken photos and did not even relise that Raya was in them until we viewed them. LOL We are just so used to her being near us.

If our grazers, horses, llamas, or goats are somewhere where they are not suppose to be, or if they get into something they are not suppose to be in, Raya will let them know and drive them away from it.

Raya also keep the cows and sheep that graze just on the other side of the fence off our property. She knows where our fence is and keeps antelope and other animals off our property.

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I must admit that I had not done my homework before buying an English Shepherd. Usually when I buy a species or breed of animal I have not owned before I read up on them, talk to folks about them, do the homework.

We bought Midas first. Midas was Raya's brother. He is here in this photo and missed much. This puppy at eight weeks learned to "sit" on command after we showed him how twice. He was housebroken far faster then any dog my husband and I had ever had (and we have had many). He was just the KOOOOLEST puppy. Deron and I were both horrified when Midas was in a freak farm accident. We called our friends and the breeders of Midas' litter right away to see if they had any of the 17 puppies left. (yes, you read that correct. Their mother had 17 puppies and the breeder's raised them all out!) They had two female puppies left....and we bought Raya! Someone sure missed out, because we are sure that we got the pick of the littler!

We were so glad to get her, and lost Midas a few short months later. Raya learned fast and easily.

Most of what we learned about the breed was from the breeders, they and their extended family members have had them for years. We also did Internet searches and found that there is not much out there on this old breed.

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Many times on elsits that Deron and I are on the question comes up about what breed of dogs make the best farm dogs. Or someone with children would like to know what breed of farm dogs are gentle with children and or young and baby animals around the farm. We always tell Raya stories, so I thought that I would give Raya her own page here on our site.

Spool Jump

I must admit that Raya is self taught. We have not put much training into Raya....shame on us! But this dog learns much by watching. She learns from us, from the animals, from just being observant.

We do plan to work with her on the Agility Equipment. She loves the pieces we have shown her. She loves to please us and be with us.

Raya does learn much from watching. Our little Cocker Spaniel, Joy, does a few tricks. One is that when we wake up in the morning we have Joy get up on Deron's check and "Yawn" on command. She also does the "Yawn with baby noises". Raya has learned to not only come up on the side of the bed and yawn, but also when we tell Joy to "do the baby noises" Raya will yawn and do the little moans too. Pretty cute I think.

See Saw

We of course think that Raya is a beautiful dog. We are asked all the time if she is "part collie". Actually, Collies are part English Shepherds. English Shepherds were used in developing the Collie breed, but also the Border Collie Breed. English Shepherds are far more easy going, ie, laid back, the either of the two breed they helped develop.

English Shepherds are a medium sized dog that has a double coat, the outside coat is long and flowing. Yes, they shed. They tend to have small feet (bringing in less mud) then other dogs their size. I will try to find a Standard for the Breed and put it here too.

One thing we have noticed is that while their presents is well noted, they are not pushy or loud or obnoxious dogs in general. Raya is a very polite dog. She moves out of the way of people, takes food gently from you hand, waits at the door when opened to see if she is invited into the house and sleeps on the floor just glad to be in the house with us.

Hoop Jump Tunnel

Raya watches her fence line and others better respect it too. This is a note I sent out yesterday (5/20/09) to my goat lists, my subject line said "Where the Antelopes Play")

I live in NW SD and seeing Prong Horned Antelope is a matter of looking out the window. When we go to town (51 miles one way) we must see 200 or more on the way there and the same on the way big deal. However, they are very skittish animals and you can not get very close to them at all. You can get way closer to wild deer then antelope.

Just now I was out working with Esau, who is a little light tan, almost palomino colored, baby goat out in the agility area. There were six antelope, a male and five females just off from our fence but a good ways from where I was. As I worked with Esau they kept coming closer....that alone is unbelievable. They usually take off like a shot if you walk in their direction. I am assuming that Esau looks enough like a baby Prong Horn to peak their curiosity. If I had not had Raya with us (English Shepherd) I think they might have come much closer. Three times I had to tell Raya not to chase them off.

I could not believe that they kept coming closer and closer as I was getting closer and closer to the fence line......well that and I could not believe I was alone, no once else to see them, and of course no camera. I looked down at Esau as I moved him through the Weave Polls, yes he did really well, and Raya ran off the Antelope as they were almost at the fence. Never have I been that close to a Prong Horn on foot or even on horse back.

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Raya is such a wonderful Farm Dog. She takes care of all kinds of things here. Things we know and others we might not. Deron saw her not only chase off a Bob Cat, but he also watched her keep an eye on a Hawk and as it fly this way, she ran toward it so that it turned away from our fence line. She is just unbelievable. Really a dream dog.

Deron,Arrow & Raya out on the prairie

Raya is such a good dog. She always "has our backs", even when we do not realize it. We take photos all the time and find her right there with us, when we did not know it as we took the photo. She is not a demanding dog. She is not a "needy" dog. She is just a good and loving dog. If I could get another from the same lines, I would in a heart beat! Sadly her father is gone now.

Marna, Missy & Raya at the only tree for miles

Marna riding up on MC at a pond

I miss you Blake I miss you Blake 2

Deron has two sons. The summer of 2011 the oldest did not come to stay with us since he was in college and had to work to pay for his way. Blake, all most 16 did come and stay with us that year, but Raya was sure, sure, that he came just to be with her. She slept on the floor beside his blow up mattress each night and hung by him like glue by day. We sent these photos to Blake with the message "I miss your Blake".

Raya with Marna holding Tekoa and Titus 2013-09-13

Raya is now in her 8th year. She is a great dog and showing no signs of slowing down. But for 18 months I thought about how we would ever replace such a dog as this! I thought about a lot of different breeds. German Shepherd Dogs just kept coming back to me. I had them in the 1980's & 1990's and trained them as Sled Dogs, for Backpacking, Weight Pulling, and they were in my Trick Dog Troupe, I know what great dogs they will be if trained. After deciding that GSD was the breed I wanted, I decided I wanted them to also train them to pull my Sacco Cart and my Sled as well as do a few other things. I am also thinking about having a Trick Troupe again.

We picked up our first two German Shepherd Dogs on Sept. 6th 2013. Raya took to them right away. By the time they are 2 y/o she will be 10 y/o. We hope they will learn a lot from her.

If you are interested I do have a Working GSD website.

Titus Hoop 4 2013-09-14 Raya, Joy, Marna holding Tekoa & titus 2013-09-20

You can see that Raya not only likes to be with us, but she hangs around while we train others, many times she gets a training treat just for being there with us. <smiles>

Blakeand Deron Pannier Fitting 2014-07-07

Here is Raya on July 7, 2014 "helping" Deron and Blake make new Hard Sided Panniers for my bike. Raya has also been running beside us as we ride out on the prairie...she is older now, and in the hot weather we take extra breaks for her to cool down before moving on. She wants to come, she asks for no breaks.

As all things do. Raya's time ran out. March 21, 2016. Raya had cancer. She will never be replaced, and will be sorely missed, but:

Here is a note I wrote about Turquoise one of our German Shepherd Dogs:

Raya (our Farm Dog's) last night on Earth was hard.

None of us slept, but Raya.

Joy now sleeps in a crate....can't hold it like she used to when loose, funny how she can in a crate.
Texas Tea sleeps in a crate too.

Raya normally and always, slept right next to our bed.

On her last night here, Raya, slept in the living room between our desks. Deron put her there and that is where she stayed too weak to move.

Turquoise was so upset about that when the lights went out. She paced the floor. From Raya's normal spot, next to the bed, to Raya. Then. She barked at Raya, and then came and barked at us, like Lassie, to ask us to come and see Raya was in the other room and not good. During the night, this went on every so often. The next day, after very little sleep, I found I must have slept some, because I had scratch marks across my waist. I am sure that Turquoise got a bit desperate, and tried to tell me again, to let me know that something was terribly wrong with Raya.

After Raya died, late the next morning. Turquoise "stepped up". Deron and I both noticed right away that Turquoise's voice got deeper. She is also not a "barker", but all noises outside (that we heard and did not) were, and are now, met with the "Big GSD Bark".

Turquoise also is sticking closer to us.... as if she has "Stepped Up" to take over the part of THE loving and watching Farm Dog, all on her own. Or, <laughs> maybe there is just more room on the floor now and she fits closer to us better.

I would like to invite you to join us on a Yahoo Group that I host called Working Big Dogs.
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-- The Far Out Living Team
Fri, 08 May 2009 14:01:42 -0400

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