In Memorial of Neffie

November 2, 2012

We buried a much loved member of our farm family yesterday.

Neffie, formally named Queen Nephele, was our livestock guardian dog here for 12 years.  She came as a half-grown dog, being about 6 months old.

Part of her breed characteristics as a Maremma included an independence and certain “stand-offishness”.  She took that to the extreme, and wanted no part of being petted or handled by humans.  The only person she tolerated touching her was me.

picture of maremma sheepdog

Neffie about two years old
She was totally bonded to her charges. She would protect both sheep and goats, but had a preference for hanging out with the goats. That didn’t stop her from keeping them all safe. I saw her stand off a pack of dogs to keep her sheep safe!

Her sticking close to a pregnant ewe or goat was a tip-off they would give birth soon. I learned to pay attention if she was hanging around one particular mom-to-be.

image of maremma sheepdog and american farm collie
Neffie and Toby 2007

She wasn’t overly enamored with Toby when he first came to the farm as a pup, but they eventually became best of friends.  They hung out a lot with each other, and I often saw them playing and patrolling together.

image of maremma sheepdog in field of green
Neffie in the bottom pasture in 2007

No matter what the season or the weather, Neffie was there to look after her goats and sheep.

picture of maremma sheepdog with sheep
Neffie Keeping Watch

Her favorite spot was to get as high as she could on the hillside, and keep watch.


“What are those birdbrains doing here?”

I don’t think she really considered guineas and chickens as worthy of her guardian duites, but most of the time they were kept safe by default.  The only predator Neffie couldn’t guard against was a hawk swooping down and carrying off a chick.


Neffie and Toby 2009

Whether alone or with Toby, she was on duty 24/7 to look after her family.


Neffie on 10-17-2012

The above picture was taken 2 weeks before she died.

The Farmer and I both cried when we buried her. She did her job well. She was a good dog. And I loved her.

The pastures out there are distressingly empty without her.

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