News Letter: Fall - Winter 2007

A Warning About a Maremma Dog Breeder:

Cracker & friend

Cracker & Friend, in better times.

On the whole its been a tough Fall and Winter ... so far. Just the usual continued drought, with hard to find hay, and no pastures.

The first of November we lost our good Maremma dog, Cracker, partner to her brother Jack. These two were puppies we had gotten four years ago ... they had become just great guardians and hard working dogs. She had found an old deer carcass, and ate enough of it to cause a full on bloom of bacteria. A confirmed case of hemoragic gastroenteritis ... the Vet was not able to save her with intensive care.

We didn't have any real winter until just before Thanksgiving, then we had a ice and snow storm that hit hard the day before Thanksgiving. Apparently Otis, our white Bond X Corriedale ram, cast himself on the ice. We got him into the barn and warmed up, but he must have twisted something inside, as he died a few hours later. He was a beautiful animal, with a lovely fleece.

Then towards the end of November the cougar took Roo, one of our black Corriedale ewes. The flock was out with Jack, but one dog is just not able to adequately guard the flock in such rugged country. It has been impossible to look for and find the kill site. There has been snow on the ground ever since that snow at Thanksgiving. Not that the snow completely covers everywhere all of the time. The wind blows the ground bare in some places and stacks the snow up into solid icy piles that are five feet deep in other places.

In desperation I wrote to some of the lists where LGDs (livestock guardian dogs) may be for sale, and specifically began a correspondence with "LT" in Missouri.


Date: 11/7/07, written to LT:

Jack and Cracker as litter mates, were never separated ... they came to us at about 10 weeks old. Cracker wasn't a true dominant bitch, but was in charge of Jack. As they were much younger than our two, older Pyrenees, they have always deferred to them. The four dogs did work as a pack when it seemed necessary. Pyrenees tend to work by guarding perimeter fencing, while the two Maremmas were bonded to the ewe flock and for the most part stayed with them constantly.

Our vet seems to think a female would be best for Jack, as that personality type is what he is used to? The dog would have to be spayed. The guarding duties are such as to take all of the dog's attentions. An intact dog would cause too much distraction. All of our dogs are spayed and neutered.

I know that some of the Maremmas may be smaller in size? about 85 pounds. Jack weighs about 125, while Cracker weighed about 100. Our Pyrs are 135 and 115. The larger size is a necessary thing as the coyotes here may weigh 85 pounds, cougars 145, and bears 300 pounds. The larger the dog the better when dealing with predators. I would fear for one of the smaller dogs.
Can you say what the weight may be of your female dogs when they are adults?

I don't know that Jack would bond to another dog, but I think that a younger dog would have a better chance of bonding to him? We haven't ever faced anything like this before? They were such a working team. He is somewhat depressed at this time.

We currently have about 100 sheep on 80, very rugged acres in the foothills of eastern Colorado. The ewe flock is about 70 sheep, and their fields (while fenced) are far from predator safe. The cliffs, rocks, brush, and trees prevent very much line-of-sight for the dogs, so its essential that they move with the flock. (Cracker and Jack have always done that)


LT responded with phone calls and emails and talked about a six month old female Maremma, with "funny ears" that they had named "Yoda". She went into great detail about their "all meat diet", how well they were cared for, the sizes the dogs would be as adults, and her theories on NOT vaccinating against Distemper and Parvovirus.
[I thought at the time, well, it would be OK to get the dog here and very quickly get her to the Vet to be spayed and vaccinated]

It took a large effort to find transportation for the dog from MO to Colorado. Finally it seemed possible, and we decided that the thing to do would be to have her send a male dog as well, one of Yoda's litter mates. By now the dogs are just nine months old.

What follows is a very sad account of what LT did in fact do regarding the dogs. She appears to care nothing for the dogs she breeds and then sells to an unwitting public.


Date: 2/5/08
To: LT
From: gfwsheep
Subject: Yoda(?) and other dog

Dear "LT",

The dogs arrived here on Friday morning, 2/1/08. The male dog is sick. I took the dogs to the vet Sunday, when it became clear that this was no ordinary, change of food, trip-stress illness.
The blood test for Parvovirus was positive. The male dog is undergoing treatment, as best as the vet can offer.(at great expense, of course)

The Vet has said that we can do all of this treatment, and then he may well die.

From this website:
Canine parvovirus is carried by dogs. Adult dogs may be infected carriers without showing any clinical signs. Dogs with the typical diarrhea that parvovirus causes shed the virus as well. It can last a long time in the environment, perhaps as long as 9 months or longer.
Generally, it takes 7-10 days from the time of exposure for dogs and puppies to start showing symptoms and to test positive for parvo.


As Dick said (the transport driver), when the dogs were put on the trailer, it was obvious to him (in a short period of time) that at least one of the dogs was vomiting and had diarrhea. He reported to me that he checked on the dogs after they left, about an hour afterwards, and one of the dogs had vomited and had diarrhea.

It was 5 days after they left your farm that the test for Parvovirus was done by the Vet. I don't see any explanation, other than the dog was infected when it left?

The Vet here has advised waiting until a week from Monday (12 days after they were sent on the trip) to see if the female dog will have symptoms. If not, she can be vaccinated then. (it is a modified-live-virus vaccination)

It is also my impression that you did not send the female dog, Yoda.
The dogs were about 6 months old when we first started talking about what you had available. You spent a good deal of time saying how well fed they were on an all meat diet ... the dogs are mostly starved, weighing far less than 9 month old dogs should weigh (45 & 55 pounds) Rough coats, fleas, ticks and burrs. You talked at great length about Yoda, but did NOT send her, instead I believe you sent the other female in the litter, a much smaller dog with no "funny ears".
The male is tiny for his age, malnourished and sick. We had discussed (clearly, I thought) our need here for larger dogs ... dogs that would grow up to be large, weighing over 100 pounds.

I have attached copies of the Vet bills as of this morning (3 jpg files) ... there are additional charges for today's treatments, and there will be other days' treatments, if he lives.
If you do not have access to a printer so as to print these files, here is a short summary:
Longs Peak Animal Hospital
9727 Ute Hwy
Longmont, CO 80504
Dr Susan Seethaler

2/3/08 charges: $314.37
2/4/08 charges: $118.60 + additional antibiotics $48.75
total to date: $481.72 (does not include today's charges)

We have been bringing him home at night, then returning him to the clinic early in the morning. They do not have staff there at night, and it seemed best to have him in a place where he could be checked through the night.

We are greatly distressed at all of this ... its not what we thought would happen.

We expect you to be forthcoming and at the very least pay for the Veterinary charges. (All of the charges, when we know a final total)

Joanna & Keith Gleason


LT wrote:
Date: Tue, 5 Feb 2008 14:25:44 -0600
From: LT
To: gfwsheep
Subject: Re: Yoda(?) and other dog

We got up early the morning of the trip to feed the dogs so that they would have four hours at least before transport. There none of them have been sick. I will talk to the vet to see if he has seen any cases of Parvo at his clinic, which is what I suspect. The dogs were seen at the clinic one week before transport. It looks like they were exposed there as we have not seen any signs of illness here. I am glad you told us of this, we will watch the rest of them over the next few days as they would now have been exposed via those two if they were ill that morning.

I will check back with you after I have a chance to speak to the vet that saw them.


Date: 2/6/08
To: LT
From: gfwsheep
Subject: call to Vet in MO

I (JG) called the Vet in MO that wrote the health paper for the two dogs.
Candy J. Rotramel, DVM
Warsaw Veterinary Clinic
Warsaw, MO

Health paper was written on Wednesday, January 23, 2008.
The vet said she remembered the dogs and told LT that they were very thin for their age and suggested a fecal exam. LT declined. At that time they had no fever or other visible signs of disease.
This Vet maintains that the time for the Parvovirus incubation is 3 to 8 days (not the somewhat standard 7 to 10 days)

The dogs were put on transport at about 11:00 am on Wednesday morning the 30th of January.
The Vet believes this confirms that the dogs could NOT have contracted Parvovirus at their clinic.

The Vet further indicated that the most likely source (in her thinking) for the Parvovirus was exposure in the transport trailer.

I have called the transport driver Dick, Alpaca/LLama Transporter.

We talked extensively about how he transports the Alpacas; the cleaning of his trailer, the bedding used while transporting animals, etc. After our discussion, one may conclude that it might be conceivable that the Alpacas carried infected Parvovirus dog poo (from the dogs on their farms) on their feet into the trailer (bedded with some 12" to 18" of straw) and that the dogs came into contact with the buried poo and ate some of it? I did see the trailer when receiving the dogs and yes, it was bedded very deeply ... no visible poo anywhere.

The dogs were in his trailer from 11:00 am Wednesday morning until 8:00 am Friday morning. That is a total of 44 hours on the trailer. (not three days or 72 hours) Dick still maintains that the male dog was sick, vomiting and had diarrhea, when they were loaded on the trailer Wednesday morning.

So, conclude what you may ...
LT hasn't got it on her farm ... her dogs aren't sick? (just horribly tiny, thin, with vomiting and diarrhea)
The Vet clinic couldn't have transmitted it ... the timing is wrong?
The transport trailer was bedded deeply and the Alpacas would have to have carried infected dog poo on their feet into the trailer?

At this time, all I know is that we have two malnourished, wormy (yes, I did have the Vet here do a fecal), flea and tick infested dogs ... one with confirmed Parvovirus ... the other waiting to see?

The very least of this is that I have had to treat the 2 new dogs and all of my dogs for worms and fleas. I will have to drench our entire flock of sheep (91 animals) for fleas and ticks (this will cost about $185 for oral Ivermectin + our labor) And a Vet bill of $756.25 (includes days Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday but not some outstanding charges not yet billed) and perhaps a dead dog ... waiting to see on that?

We could understand the dogs having one problem, but all of this is just outrageous.

Joanna & Keith Gleason


LT's earlier email ...

(Please note she talks about re-vaccinating her dogs? ... she told me she does not believe in vaccinations, other than rabies)
At 6:12 PM -0500 11/7/07, LT wrote:
Date: Wed, 7 Nov 2007 18:12:55 -0500
To: "Joanna Gleason" gfwsheep
Subject: Re: your email about placing Maremmas?

Here is a lot of info about vaccines and what's going on now. In the last couple years the AVMA started to recommend a much reduced vaccine schedule. The vets across this nation threw a fit! So they backed down . For my own dogs I follow the recommendations of Dr. Jean Dodds.
snip of lengthy email

----- LT's last response ...

Date: Thu, 7 Feb 2008
From: LT
To: gfwsheep
Subject: Re: Yoda(?) and other dog

We have been dealing with the flu here and things have been hectic. The other night we were under tornado watches and thunderstorms shortened my online time. Yesterday I had my truck in the shop and the news was not good. It will have to have a new engine, or I will have to have a new truck. I had hoped to get a small cabin up for me and my three kids to live in, before I had to get another truck. Even the half price sales amounts you paid for the dogs is greatly needed.

I do appreciate your letting us know about the illness that our dogs were exposed. We are watching the rest of them very closely, so far so good. The dogs that you were sent were the largest dogs per your request. Yoda had an injury at the last minute and was not available. She is fine now.

I called the vet where I took the dogs for health papers, and they confirmed that they were exposed at the clinic while getting their health checks for the transport. He said that they have been seeing a lot of vaccinated adult dogs coming down with Parvo and another disease with Parvo like symptoms and that the vaccine is not covering all the dogs, all the time. He advised me to order in another batch of vaccine and re-vaccinate every dog on the farm. He said they are seeing a 7-10 day incubation period on this illness. He said that apparently your dogs were exposed there, came down with the illness while in transit, and may have exposed the rest of my dogs.

Keep me advised of the progress of the dogs' health. I have never before had any illness in my Maremma. The dogs are at 3/4 adult size and weight and should reach full size by the age of 18-24 months. If large breed and giant breed dogs are pushed too fast they run a greater risk of hip dysplasia than those that are raised for steady slow growth. Keep as much raw meat in their diet as you can possibly feed. Naturally they would be emaciated with vomiting and diarrhea on the trailer for two days! They would of course not eat for a stranger and while in transit. When I have brought in new dogs they do not eat for a few days (unless I or someone that rode in the car with them from their previous home) did not feed them. So they are stressed on top of being ill. If the male dies within 30 days, and we do not lose all our males, we can offer you a replacement. I will keep one reserved for the next two weeks in case you need him.

Is the female still healthy? Did she get a shot? Again, do keep me informed as to how the dogs are doing.



She appears to breed small, poor in confirmation animals, then starves them to near death, and cares not at all that they are worm infested and sick.

She did not uphold the written and verbal contract to send a specific female dog.
She could have called and said she was not sending THAT dog, to see if we would like to have made other arrangements?

She appears to have lied about what the Vet has said about where the dogs had been exposed to the Parvovirus.
"Candy" the vet is not a "he", hence the entire story of her contacting "him" and getting "him" to admit that parvo probably came from them, certainly APPEARS to be a pure fabrication.

She has refused to offer any assistance with the Vet bills created by her lack of care of the dogs she owns.

The cost of the dogs was $450 each dog (this does NOT include any transport).
When we first talked with LT about buying the dogs, they were six months old, and the price was arranged.
We do not believe that the "market" price for an untrained, poorly bred, 6 to 9 month old dog is $900?
We often do see trained, breeding quality, working LGD's, that are 1 - 3 years old priced at $900 and more.

Her closing "offer" to replace the sick male dog if he dies within 30 days if "we do not LOSE all our males" ... why would she be losing all her males? Could it possibly be that they're sick??? Note she didn't say "SELL all her males". Again, nothing can be proven, but it's an odd choice of words?

Introducing sick, worm, flea, and tick infested dogs to our dogs and sheep has created problems we did not have on our farm.
We have not found any sincere remorse in her responses to us.

This goes beyond "buyer beware" to buy at your peril.

Joanna & Keith Gleason [an error occurred while processing this directive]