Teaching an Old Dog New Tricks

How a farm dog helped me embrace city living

Crystal Garrett
5 min readFeb 17, 2021


Photo by Alex Ware on Unsplash

We found Sasha at a farm auction. We raised goats and wanted to add to our herd. We weren’t planning to get a puppy, but my heart melted when they brought her into the auction ring. She was a tiny ball of white fluff when we got her, but she instinctively knew what her purpose was and (mostly) did a good job keeping predators out of the yard.

Great Pyrenees females will grow to 85 lbs and stand 25–29 inches tall.

They are big, and they are strong, but they are gentle with children and have Zen-like dispositions, making them wonderful family dogs, as well as livestock guardians.

When we moved into town from the farm, there were many adjustments for her. She was starting to slow down, not spending so much time patrolling, but she was used to having the freedom to wander where she wanted.

Having spent the first eight years of her life in the wide-open spaces of the farm, she developed a strange phobia of being indoors. Even being contained in the barn would cause her to go into full panic mode.

After the first move, we spent weeks convincing her that inside the house was safe and that there was no shame in being on a leash. Our daughter’s dog, Keeda, taught her how to tell us when she needed to go out to pee, although Sasha still insists that poops be done in bushes, not on lawns.

Sasha did exceptionally well in the transition to small-town life, but I still worried about moving her to the city. There was a large open field behind us for her to wander around. Our walks were done on gravel roads, not on paved streets. The entire town knew where she lived and would bring her home if she wandered too far.

Sasha and her friend Keeda. (photo courtesy of the author)

Would she be able to handle city life? Would we be able to handle city life?

Caesar Millan says that a dog will mirror its owner’s confidence (or lack of):

You are the source of your dog’s calm, submissive state, and your dog is looking to you for guidance.



Crystal Garrett

Author empowering you to live your best life by sharing the tools and wisdom I’ve gained over the years. For more tools go to: thejournalingchristian.ca