Eleodoro Morales - From Pup to Shepherd - South Chile, 9th Region - 1989

(Eleodoro passed away in January 2003 from Lou Gherig's disease)

 

There is a very interesting dog that lives on the Huincacara grounds.  His name is Pastor and his job day and night is caring for his flock of sheep.  It was fascinating to watch him work with them.  I noticed that he moved quietly and calmly among them.  The only time he left them was when his master called him to come and eat.  Then he would run to the house, eat his dinner, and without being told, turn and go right back to the sheep.  This was a lesson for me--to feed my own soul when our Master calls, so one could then fill the place we've been given with a satisfied spirit. 

 

One day, one of the lambs was butchered.  I didn't see Pastor when the lamb was taken from the flock, but I did notice when he came to eat that day.  He ate his dinner, and then paused for just a bit, lifting his nose in the direction of where the lamb had been killed, and getting the scent.  Then he slowly turned away, and went back out to the pasture with his flock.  He felt sadness because of what had happened, and of course he couldn't understand his master's purpose in taking that lamb, but at the same time there was an acceptance in his attitude and he simply returned to his place.  We may not always understand the will of God, but we can accept it when all is in His hands.

 

There was also a half grown pup living at Huincacara.  He was at the stage of wanting to play and roughhouse.  One day I saw him near the sheep, and Pastor was also nearby.  The pup was just dancing in his desire to chase and play and he was eyeing the sheep for this purpose!  It was amazing to see Pastor when he realized the intent of the pup.  He fixed his eyes on the pup without moving, but the moment the pup made a jump toward the sheep, Pastor made a lunge at the pup that sent the pup sprawling!  He didn't hurt him but he let him know in no uncertain terms that he was not to harass the sheep.  Later on, when the sheep were in the fold, I saw Pastor patiently letting the pup roughhouse with him, working off some of his energy!  I thought how definite our Father is to show us when we've gotten out of our place in a way that could be detrimental, and yet how kind and patient He is when we go to Him in our struggles with our old nature.

 

Huincacara is a village in a section that is a rural area in the foothills of the Andres, approximately 15 miles from the city of Villarrica and 5 miles from the volcano of Villarrica. This zone is a semi-forested area where native bushes and brush abound, and there is an excellent view of the majestic volcano in the background.  In this foothill area the puma abound.  It is a natural enemy of sheep and to all other domestic animals that are unable to defend themselves.  The puma lives in the mountains where it has natural protection and where it has its lairs.  This animal is a constant enemy of animals such as sheep, pigs, geese, etc., especially in the winter months when it approaches the farmland and farm animals. So, it is harmful to the farmers.  My parents, as well as their neighbors, have domestic animals on their farms.  For several years the farmers in the area suffered losses because of the hungry lion, the puma, which approaches the farmlands and attacks and kills the barnyard animals.  These attacks occur mostly at night but are not at all uncommon in broad daylight too.  Because of the constant danger of the attacks of the puma and the losses that occur as a result of these attacks, my youngest brother Sergio, decided to buy a pup of a certain breed used as sheep dogs.  He bought the pup in October 1984 when it was only 20 days old.  He knew it would take a lot of patience and work to raise and teach the pup, but in order to have a sheep dog to help protect the sheep, the whole family took an interest in helping to raise and teach it. This small pup nursed a mother sheep for the first six months of its life, but the mother sheep did not want to accept the pup as a son.  It was necessary for Sergio to tie the sheep up three times a day so the pup could nurse. Fortunately, Sergio had a lot of patience in caring for, feeding, and training the pup.  With time and patience the mother sheep accepted the pup as a son, and then the pup, like the lambs, nursed the mother sheep.

 

At the beginning, the flock refused to accept the friendship of the pup and they fought him, butting him around a lot, so much so that one could hear the pup yelping as he was being mistreated by the sheep.  The helpless pup, and future shepherd, was mistreated by his future flock.  As he grew, he began to demand more respect.  He would often bite the hind legs of the sheep which attacked him.  The last one to accept the presence of the pup among the flock was the ram, and that was only after many misunderstandings and encounters.  For the safety and protection of the sheep, they were kept in a lot or corral, at night.  A small dog house was also put in the corral so the pup, the future shepherd, could sleep among the sheep that were to become his future “sphere of influence.”  Sleeping with the sheep was a necessary part of his training to learn to care for the flock.  Something very interesting happened.  When the lambs were small, some of them would go inside the doghouse and sleep with the pup, but as they grew, they couldn't get inside the doghouse and thus, lost their rights to sleep with their future shepherd.  They had to sleep outside with the other sheep. 

 

The first few months of his life, it was necessary to be a little hard on the pup.  At first he preferred to stay in his little house all day, so he had to be taught that his future work would be to go with and protect the flock.  For the smaller children of the family, nieces and nephews, etc., it was difficult to avoid playing with the pup.  They were strictly prohibited to play with him even though he was playful and cute.  When Pastor, his name now, was about a year old, he would play with the little lambs without realizing his manner of playing was different from theirs.  He was very rough in playing with the lambs and he would even bite them in his play.  One day Sergio caught him playing so rough with the lambs that there was danger he would injure them.  This resulted in Sergio giving Pastor a rather severe punishment.  He feared Pastor would kill one of the lambs in his rough play and it was necessary to tie a heavy chain around his neck.  Sergio had to punish Pastor so often that he got so he wouldn't respond when Sergio called him, fearing he would get another whipping.  But at last he got through this phase of a dog's life when all is play.  He would also be punished if he left his flock to run after a rabbit.  He was very inclined to allow other things to interfere with his responsibilities as a shepherd.  By the time he was three years old, all the hard training was paying off and he had become a seasoned shepherd.  The following examples will indicate it.


One day the neighbors' sheep left their pasture and mixed with Pastor's sheep.  Pastor worked to separate the neighbor's sheep from his flock.  He would run after one sheep and then after another until he succeeded in separating the neighbor's sheep from his flock.  Once, two of his sheep followed the neighbors' sheep and went over to the neighbor's pasture.  Pastor realized all his sheep was not present, not in the flock.  He searched for those two lost sheep and became desperate in his search for them.  He trailed them, nose to the ground, following their scent across the neighbor's pasture and entered into the neighbor's lot or corral.  He found his two lost sheep and separated them from the neighbor's sheep and directed them home safely to their own corral.  The neighbors watched this operation and were so impressed that they told us about it later.

 

One other time, some of the sheep left the flock and wandered off looking for a better pasture.  When evening came, the six sheep that had wandered did not return to the corral.  When they arrived in the lot, Pastor looked the flock over to see which ones were not at home.  He was still with them after having spent the night with them to protect them from danger!

 

One day, a neighbor boy was passing by near the sheep.  He had a rope in his hand and playfully lassoed a lamb.  Pastor immediately went to the rescue of the lamb.  He attacked the neighbor boy.  Fortunately Sergio was close and could control Pastor and call off the attack.  The neighbor boy never played that trick again.  He found out that Pastor was not a practical joker. 

 

Once during lambing time, one ewe didn't return to the lot.  When we found it, she had a newborn lamb, and Pastor was helping her clean it.  (Most animals lick their newborn to clean them).  He was showing the marks of a tender shepherd.  Pastor found it very difficult to accept a sheep that was not of his flock and would try to drive it off and bite it and be mean to it.  To avoid this problem, we found it was best to limit Pastor's responsibilities to between 15 and 25 sheep, and they were the ones born under his jurisdiction and not the ones we butchered for table use. 

 

When the flock was divided, that was when Pastor had the most work.  He got nervous and upset and would run from one group to another, as he didn't want to lose sight of any of his sheep.  When the flock was together and feeding well, Pastor would lie down content and sometimes sleep a little in the shade of a tree.  During the rainy season Pastor would seek the shelter of a bush, but he was always near the flock as he didn't want to lose sight of the sheep.  When it was snowing Pastor will seek shelter under a bush but always near the flock.  When it snows, that is the time when the puma is most apt to attack.  This year the puma killed three sheep near Huincacara, but we acknowledged Pastor's work.  In the five years he has been the shepherd of the flock, the pumas have not been able to make one kill among his sheep.  So, you understand that Pastor has a very special place in the family and is admired by all the neighbors.  We can also say Pastor hasn't escaped his dangers in life, even the danger of death because of his faithfulness in defending the sheep.  He has made certain enemies of people who want to cross on foot through the pasture where Pastor is tending his sheep.  Two years ago, someone fed him some poisoned food.  Everyone in the family was sad and worried about how to save Pastor's life.  We took him to a veterinarian in Villarrica, who gave him a shot but it had no affect, and Pastor got no better.  He wouldn't eat and seemed to lose all interest in life.  He could only remain lying and didn't follow the flock as before.  When we called him, he would raise his head a little but did not wag his tail.  At first he would drink some milk, but then wouldn't even take any of the milk.  All the family was very sad as it seemed Pastor was dying.  We all thought of the pumas that could come and devour the sheep.  Finally someone gave us a home remedy for Pastor and since nothing else worked, we decided to try it.  The remedy turned out to be the real McCoy!  The remedy was to dissolve soap in a quart of water, and then ground charcoal was added to the water.  But, the problem was how to get Pastor to take his medicine as he wasn't even drinking.  Sergio got the idea of tying Pastor's legs together, a procedure that required the help of two other people, and then open Pastor's mouth.  Sergio put a round stick crosswise in his mouth.  He lifted Pastor up, head high, and from a bottle poured the “holy water” down his throat.  It looked so cruel and hard-hearted to treat poor Pastor that way, but it was the only way we could get him to take his medicine. 

 

That same day we noticed he was a little better and in the evening of that day, he drank a wee bit of milk.  Then after a few more times he could raise his head more.  It was quite noticeable that he was getting better every day.  When he could follow the sheep again, it was a joy to the whole family.  The danger was past and he was faithfully performing his duties as a shepherd of the flock again, and did so with such pleasure.

 

We can tell you a little about his food and how his nature has changed.  Most of his food is ground wheat or some other grain, but his diet also includes milk.  Pastor has never tasted blood or eaten meat or bones.  He is fed in the morning and in the evening.  When it is feeding time, someone calls him and he goes running for his meal.  It he gets hungry beforetime, he may go to the house looking for his meal before he is called, but after his meal he returns immediately to his flock.  This past year one of his sheep was butchered for meat for convention.  The sheep was butchered so he wouldn't see or know what happened, but he realized one sheep was missing.  After looking for it and not finding it, he became so sad and gloomy that he would hardly eat.  That day when he returned with the flock, he had a sheepish, guilty look about him.  It was so noticeable that everyone wondered what was wrong with him.  Then we decided it was because one sheep was missing and he felt he had failed his duty.  He had lost one sheep and was plagued with a very guilty feeling.  Some of the friends mentioned that it's that way with us.  When one of the little churches finishes his or her race and isn't in his place in the church meeting, we all miss him and feel so sad because of the loss.  But at the same time there is a sense of rejoicing because someone has finished their race with honor, and their service and sacrifice has been honored by God.  We should add that Pastor has never acted mean or tried to bite anyone of the friends or workers who come to the meetings or to the convention held on the place, but he can be a formidable foe to anyone who dares to approach his little flock.  He knows all the workers and bounds up to them to greet them and give them a welcome to the house and even to his own little domain.  He has a special way of saying “Welcome” to the workers.


(Since this was written we have heard that Pastor has died.)