ShyAnn: Fierce Defender of our Home – or a Chicken?

In today’s blog Ann recalls the heroic demise of her pet rooster, Pecker, who went down fighting to save his flock from some night-prowling predator.  Leave it to Ann to wonder why none of the hens stepped forward to help poor Pecker.  Was this a gender thing?  Are males always the more dominate members of a group?  After extensive research, she did find evidence that in some species females rule the roost, so to speak.  And dogs were among the species where females may wear the pants.


The Mississippi cattle rancher with our prospective pup (aka ShyAnn) on his right and her mom (aka a bitch) on his left.

This got me to thinking about our Aussie from our early years in Louisiana.  We got her from a Mississippi cattle rancher who bred dogs to help with his cattle operation.  We were fortunate to get to see how the dogs worked the cattle when we visited his ranch to check out the young female he had advertised that was available.

It was quite amazing.  With just a few gestures and whistles he could get the dogs to move the herd wherever he wanted.   He pointed out that the Aussie we were interested in was learning the ropes from the older dogs and that she clearly was a  heeler.  A “heeler” instinctively stays behind the cows, nipping at their heals to keep them moving.  At the time, we didn’t consider that this young dog would bring this instinctual predisposition into our Baton Rouge home.

ShyAnn with cats

Cheyenne (aka ShyAnn) probably wondering how to herd our neighbor’s cat Nicholas.

We named her Cheyenne after the Wyoming cow town.  However, as we got to know her better we found that she was a one-family dog and shied away from interactions with others.  So, we dubbed her “ShyAnn.” (See a previous Andy’s Corner for more about our clever pet names).

Although in our house ShyAnn was shy around non-family visitors,  she was not shy about nipping from behind as they walked by her (that heeler instinct!).  Fortunately, she only nipped friends of the family who were unlikely to press charges.

ShyAnn’s nippy behavior in our house concerned us, but not nearly as much as the aggressiveness she displayed outdoors, especially when she was under our house.

Baton Rouge House on piers

The back of our Baton Rouge house which was built on piers.

Like many houses in Louisiana, our place was built on piers.  ShyAnn could get under the house from our fenced back yard but was blocked from getting out into the open front yard by a wire lattice I installed.

Not only did this provide a cool (and secure) place for ShyAnn to hang out in the Louisiana heat, it allowed her to maintain constant vigilance of the outside world.  And whenever an outsider approached our house she would ferociously bark, her teeth flashing through the restraining wire grid.  Our mail carriers and delivery folks must have felt that they were walking into the bowls of hell every time they came up our front steps.  Who knows what carnage there would have been had she been able to tear through the barriers and get to these intruders!


The perfect door mat for ShyAnn.  Available at Swedes Feeds in nearby Kenwood.

I unexpectedly discovered the answer to what would happen should ShyAnn manage to get free and be face to face with one of these intruders.  It had to do with termites and how she dealt with PMS.  Let me explain.

Like most homeowners in Louisiana we had annual termite inspections which required the pest control people to crawl under the house to check for infestations.  One year, when it was time for our inspection, I left instructions for the pest service guy to call me prior to arriving so I could get home from my office to secure ShyAnn from under the house.  I told him to not go under the house under any circumstances until I got there.

When the call came I drove to our house and found the pest control guy waiting for me on the street in front of our house, leaning agains his service van .  His pest service, which was highly recommended by friends, was named Pest Management Systems.  I have to admit that while he may have been an expert pest guy, the imposing red “PMS” emblazoned across the side of his van made me seriously question his public relations skills. 

pms van

When I told him to give me a minute to put the dog in the house, he said that there was no need; he had finished his inspection.  Surely he was putting me on.  No one would dare go under the house with a snarling, frightening dog down there.

I asked if he noticed the dog while under my house.  He told me that he sure did and that he called to the dog but it kept hiding behind the piers and wouldn’t come to him. He said the dog didn’t make a peep.

Wow!  What happened to our “I’ll-defend-this-household-to-my-death” dog we all knew so well?

Screen Shot 2020-06-15 at 8.01.21 PM

Three scenarios come to mind that may explain this puzzling transformation from snarling wolf-dog to sniveling weenie-dog  (with apologies to all dachshund lovers, including my brother, Dan, and sister-in-law, Jeanne):

  1. All of her aggressive posturing was just a front to convince her human family that she was indeed useful.  When no one was home she would take the day off.
  2. She was just a “fraidy cat,” or if you will, a chicken and only felt secure enough to act “protective” when she knew a family member was there to protect her.
  3. When her human family members were home, she truly felt the need protect them from intruders.  But, when none of her human family members were present she could care less if strangers came onto the property (be they termite inspectors, thieves, or mail carriers).  

Although I will never be sure, I’d like to believe that the third scenario is closest to the truth.  Maybe to ShyAnn our family was like Pecker’s flock and she would have sacrificed her life to protect us.  This makes me wonder what Pecker would have done if all of the hens had flown the coop that night the prowling predator came.  My guess is that he would have hung low and lived another day.






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