The new arrival

He arrived, an enormous 9 week old bundle of white fuzz, to learn a very important trade – chicken guard.

The Maremma is an Italian breed, descended from dogs used for centuries to protect stock from predators. They bond with any animals that they live with at a young age and spend their lives with them in the paddock, seeing off foxes, other dogs and unknown humans. We have even seen the old dog, Lady, herd the chickens under their house when a hawk flew overhead and today I found a brown snake that she’d despatched in my absence.

Instinct and breeding play a large part, but obviously young Firenze (Frenzy for short) needs some education too. Chickens make boring companions for an energetic pup – until they squawk and flap, then they are most attractive. He also discovered they lay delicious white things.

Theoretically, Lady should assist in his training, both by example and correction when necessary. However, she is unaffected by his soft brown eyes and floppy ears and is content to ignore him as long as he keeps his distance from her.

We just have to endure his puppy stage. Meanwhile, he has four children who are most happy to play with him and spoil him.