About 4 years ago we got our little Gracie, a cockapoo. Scott was working from home at the time and she became his “first” real dog. I say first with quotation marks, as he had had several dogs in his life before me and Gracie, but none by his choice. He once told me that although he liked the other dogs it was purely out of duty that he cared for them- or found them new homes when he was told that they did not work out. He never chose them and ended up with them anyway, so he accepted them. Gracie however was totally Scott’s idea, and it was love at first sight.
She lay at his feet or slept curled up inside his vest while he was working. In Scott’s eyes she was perfect, and he suggested we should let her have puppies. For once in my life, I said no. A firm no, and Gracie ended up getting spayed.
After having lost too many chickens we decided to get our Freja, a Colorado Mountain Dog (CMD). CMDs by design are a crossbreed of other livestock guardian dogs, bred for friendly temperament towards people as opposed to being bred for size or color markings. We needed Freja to help keep our chickens and livestock safe from predators. Freja is beautiful with the perfect disposition. Freja is instantly loved by everyone who meets her, and she loves them right back- or maybe it is the reverse… she instantly loves all and makes everyone feel good, so they can’t help but to love her back?
Freja is the most patient dog ever and even lets little Gracie boss her around. She is great with all the animals and doesn’t like any fighting amongst them. Not a chicken has been lost to a predator since Freja came on duty.
History repeated itself and Scott again wanted puppies. A livestock guardian dog is part of many working farms, many households with chickens and livestock that the farmers can’t keep safe by themself “employ” these amazing dogs. They are independent thinkers and after thousands of years of watching out for predators they are dispositioned to listen more to what they hear (which may be a predator) than to what I might say like, “Come here,” for example! With many hobby farms or small acreage farms like our own increasing in numbers I felt that there would be many good working homes waiting for dogs with the traits for which we would breed: a more people friendly disposition, less barking, less roaming but still every bit a guard dog. Enjoying the research, I instantly threw myself into the many different questions that arise once you decide you are breeding dogs. The “who do we breed her to?” seemed like a relatively easy question. It was not. Every breed has its own good traits – and some that are on our list of undesirable ones.
Never had I previously known that there were so many different LGD breeds. I kept ruling breeds out, almost settling on a certain puppy only to realize that it might develop more fierceness and a potential level of danger to others than I wanted to see in our puppies. One day a post about a Pastore della Sila caught my eye. A what? A Sila? Never heard of it. I took to Google and immediately found several articles about this breed. All in Italian. I realized two things very quickly. A) I needed an Italian translator and B) which was maybe more important: this breed was not available in the US.
I was able to finally find some reading material in English and this only piqued my interest even more. After communicating with owners of Sila Shepherds and reading as much as I could there was only one thing left. To meet them in person. While in Sweden, I took the opportunity to travel to Italy to visit a breeder. From all I had read both Scott and I were fairly certain that we had found our perfect-for-us livestock guardian dog. With bated breath and butterflies in my stomach I finally came nose to nose with Silas in every age and color! What a remarkable experience. I was sold. They were every bit what we were led to believe and exactly what we were looking for.
Almost a year after our original decision to breed Freja we are now mere weeks away from traveling to Italy to bring our first two Sila Shepherds home, a gorgeous male, Apelle and and equally fabulous looking female, Calabria (named after the region this breed originates from and where she was born. I have my ticket in hand and I have the dogs booked onto my return flight. And since all good things come in threes; After our Christmas visit to Sweden, we’re again returning to Italy to pick up Sila number three before flying back to the US: the stunning Regina, a 4-year-old female. Apelle will be a busy boy!
We feel incredibly blessed and full of gratitude to be able to bring this wonderful breed to the USA!
From Left to Right: Apelle, Calabria and Regina!