This week, the Gazette takes you to discover the patous, these dogs that watch over the herds of many shepherds on summer pastures. Education and common life, meeting with Julien Boucher from La Ferme de Lagoute.
You have definitely already encountered them during your walks, the patous, these big white dogs mingling in the wool mass of the sheep. With their high size and strong build, these dogs are impressive, and with good reason they are protectors of herds against predator attacks: “Pyrenean Mountains, or Patous, are dogs that must have a real connection to the herd, their primary purpose is to defend the beasts from a predator like the wolf.Therefore, it is better to breed two dogs that will protect the herd, be faithful to the animals and know how to defend.He must also have very specific physical abilities such as being quite impressive, having a big jaw , even the shape of the skull is crucial, so the litter gives patous, which will adapt very well to the herds “, explains Julien Boucher, owner from Lagoute Farm. In addition to its hundred ewes, its twenty goats, the breeder is the proud owner of eight Pyrenean mountain dogs, but also his malinois and two border collies. So it’s very easy to guess: Julien is an animal lover. To talk patous with him is above all to get into a very specific dog and agricultural universe. He is therefore the perfect ambassador for the Pastorale des Pyrénées and its program: watchdog.
dogs and shepherds
“The pastoral comes to the aid of breeders with two solutions, the first concerns parachuting of shepherds with the flocks on mountain pastures. So it’s human help. The second solution is to offer a watchdog to shepherds, or ask a patou to protect a herd “explains Julien, who continues:” In the watchdog department there are five technicians and a coordinator and of course the supervising director. The service is simple, you are a breeder and you want a Pyrenean mountain dog to bring security to your herd? You contact the pastor, the coordinator assigns you a technician who comes and assesses your needs, what type of animals you have (goats, sheep, cows, horses). Then the technician will focus on the shepherds’ dog knowledge. If the person has already passed these stages, then we bring him a puppy and the technician comes monthly to see how it goes, the integration of the dog in the herd, training, respect for the nets, etc. “. An adaptation work that requires saints skills for the puppies, but also for their masters. “Dogs and herds do not naturally come out of what needs to be created a bond, when I get baby puppies, I feed them in the sheepfold, that’s how my animals are used to it. smells of puppies and will not reject them when they come to sleep near them. Once a link is created, we can leave the dogs with the sheep, there is nothing to fear. Take Olka, my oldest dog, the sheep are so used to her presence that she can sleep against them, it does not matter to them ”smiles Julien.
At the Lagoute farm, it is Olka, Aramis, Pacha, Jenny, Poymayou and even Pizac who watch over the herds, a fine team of six dogs that sometimes surprise passers-by. “Today the situation is very complicated, many tourists and walkers do not know how to behave in front of a dog, so they quickly get scared when they stand in front of a patous. If a dog barks, it is to warn that he is the guardian of a particular territory. But many people complain about the noises that dogs can make and that is why we end up with breeders being forced to sell their patous. That’s how I got one, his master had to get rid of it because the neighbors had filed a complaint against the dog. While he is gentle as a lamb! exclaims the breeder. A sensitive topic that is at the heart of the pastoral’s concerns: “This is the period of transhumance, many shepherds communicate with their herds and obviously their patous. Tourists and walkers need to be made aware: If a patou barks, it is because it protects a herd. If the walkers show that they are not a threat to the herd, that is, by staying away from the animals and making the dogs feel that they are just passing through, then cohabitation is possible, ”advises Julien.
Especially since they patouse despite their impressive building are real love balls when the first meeting has taken place. They do not hesitate to ask for caresses before, of course, returning to the sheep.