Junior was spectacular for many reasons, but the ultimate reason was that he would never leave the goats alone – traversing 40-degree Celsius days and navigating the shady spots to avoid sand so hot it would melt the bottom of your shoes. He never left them alone in the bush. When the herd disappeared for an entire week in 2013, despite being young and new to the group, he stayed with his goats despite having no food for five days — following them as they walked halfway to Namibia. Thankfully a local farmer recognized the dogs after having attended one of CCB’s farmer workshops and seeing our demonstration farm, and alerted us to their whereabouts. Not one goat was lost that week.
During his decade of service, Junior helped educate over 879 farmers who attended our farmers workshops and 906 students who visited our demonstration farm to see how LGDs worked. He showed them how spectacular LGDs can be at protecting livestock and reducing conflict with cheetahs. During his decade protecting our herd, we lost only 3 goats to carnivores – a predation rate a tiny fraction of our neighbours. One of his primary jobs at our demonstration farm was to be a good example and help teach new puppies how to be outstanding LGDs. In his life, he helped us train over 200 LGD puppies, that we then placed with farmers to mitigate their conflict with cheetahs and other carnivores. On farms that source and train LGDs themselves, 48% have their livestock losses to carnivores reduced to zero each year; on farms that received puppies that Junior trained, that figure jumped to over 85%. The mind boggles to consider how many cheetah lives this one dog has helped save.
Junior did his job exceptionally well, and he never slacked off or complained — even when an aggressive squamous cell carcinoma began ravaging his tongue. The day we discovered the cancer on his tongue it was 38-degree Celsius, despite the pain he must have been in, Junior went out the entire day with his herd. Unable to lap water properly, he dunked his head deep into the water bowl in our camp to drink – our first sign that something wasn’t right. After discovering the damage, we rushed him to the nearest veterinarian – a 700km round trip to Maun. The devastating news on our arrival was that the cancer had metastasized to the base of his tongue and surgery was not an option. Knowing he was in great pain and that he would be in agony to be kept away from his goats, the difficult decision was made to put him to rest.
Junior was brought back to the farm in Ghanzi and laid to rest by the CCB team in the shade of the thornbushes that his goats love so much. His death has been a great loss to the team, who loved him dearly. Thank you for your service, Junior — are hearts are sore without you.