?Are you sure that the dogs will not hurt your alpacas? Are you not worried about your cria?? we had been asked many times. To get straight to the point ? no, we were not worried at all! We had our first acquaintance with Maremmanos at Mountain Meadows Ranch in Canada. For many years now Hans and Karin Buhrmann have their alpacas successfully guarded by their Maremmanos and breeders such as Bluestone Alpacas on Vancouver Island are keeping and breeding these dogs.
As we live in a rural area and now and again rumours about the lynx or the racoon dog are spread we decided to have our alpacas protected by Maremmanos too. And once we decide something we do it without delay. We quickly gathered information on the internet and found a breeder in Oldenburg, northern Germany, almost next to our former hometown who told us about a breeder in France. The Reber-Lyoth family lives in Puylaurens / Laval with their children and 680 sheep, Bordercollies and Maremmanos. We told them about our intention to have Maremmanos for our alpacas and Monsieur Reber promised to choose the appropriate whelp from the next litter as the initial imprinting during the first 8 weeks builds the basis for their later behaviour. Our two whelps were chosen out of a litter of nine. From the beginning they experienced family life, but also life and its perils within a sheep flock, birth of the lambs, the protecting females and so on. They had been perfectly prepared.
In December 2006 our two dogs Babar and Buffalo joined us at the age of 8 weeks. Even though it was difficult for us they had to stay in the stable with the alpacas to get used to their new companions and environment. We built a little enclosure to allow them to retreat whenever they wanted to. During the first weeks they also had a kennel on the meadow which was not necessary anymore after four to five weeks. By then they already felt very much at home. Of course they had to learn a lot and fooled around but the experienced alpaca females left no doubts about where they set the limits. Very quickly they learned from which female they should keep aloof, which one does not mind them scampering underneath her belly and which females should be approached from the rear side. They humbly lower their heads now when pacing the stables signalling ?I will not bother you? and if once in a while one of them dares to jauntily nose at the alpacas they accept the immediately following kick. They very easily mingled with the adolescent alpacas. Soon they had found out that can play and jump around with them as long as the mothers allow it. Soon they preferred the soft and cosy hay racks to the rubber mats as sleeping berths. And it did not take long before they began to signal all strangers along the fence ?Do not enter? and ?The alpacas belong to us? but whoever now comes in with us is immediately accepted. After five months the first alpaca cria was born. Of course we were anxious to see how they would behave. But there was no reason to worry as our dogs watch over the females and the first thing a newborn sees is a white Maremmano. Thus all our crias are used to our dogs.
All in all we are happy to have the dogs out there with the alpacas but one has to mention that the upbringing of this breed is different to other breeds. We do not know any other breed so bull-headed and stubborn and at the same time so devoted. Invest a lot of patience, no force and a lot of love and you will have a loyal protector for your animals.