Like their movie counterparts, Thelma and Louise were inseparable, and you didn’t want to get on their bad side. Unlike the human versions, however, Thelma and Louise have lived to enjoy retirement.
Thelma and Louise are Great Pyrenees, a very old breed of livestock guardian dogs. For five years, they lived on a farm near Alpena, where they protected a herd of 50 Boer goats owned by Bernal Green.
Thelma and Louise did their job well.
“Wile E. Coyote was unable to get a single meal out of our herd,” Green said, referencing another pop culture figure.
Thelma and Louise were only a few weeks old when they came to live on Greeen’s farm. Right away, he said, their guardian instincts took over when they were given the task of protecting the goats. In fact, he went on, Thelma and Louise simply thought of themselves as goats and lived with them constantly. The goats, for their part, accepted Thelma and Louise.
“They are designed to accept their responsibility,” Green said of the dogs. “It was a symbiotic relationship.”
Green described Thelma and Louise as having Dr. Jekyll - Mr. Hyde personalities. Weighing over 100 pounds each, they were friendly and gentle until they felt their goats were being threatened. Green described how Thelma and Louise would always make sure they were between humans and the goats. They would place their weight against the intruder and, gently yet firmly, push him away. The appearance of another dog would especially bring out the Mr. Hyde side of Thelma and Louise.
“They would not let anyone bother their wards,” Green said.
Even doing things like trimming the goats’ toe nails or giving them medication would put the dogs’ protective nature in overdrive. Thelma and Louise would have to be placed in a dog pen while such chores were being done.
While Boer goats are fairly disease resistant in their native South Africa, Green said, in the Ozarks, there are many parasites that affect them terribly. It was particularly important to vaccinate young goats soon after birth.
Green has since sold his herd of goats, leaving Thelma and Louise to guard the porch. The hot, humid weather of late has been hard on them, and their shaggy coats have been cut.