Rocky, Not Your Average Great Pyrenees
By Kathleen Meyers
As dog breeds go, Great Pyrenees are one of the largest, and Rocky is no exception. He weighs in at 116 pounds, but his long, white, flyaway hair visually adds to his size and presence. He may be a seven-year old adult dog, but Rocky usually acts like a teenager, earning the descriptive nickname of “Goofball.” He barks a lot and never seems to sleep. Rocky likes to steal food from the other animals and roams the Ranch doing his own thing. Guarding the livestock as he is supposed to do? Not our Rocky. He’d rather irritate the pig and pester the goats, often ending up with a head butt.
Kathryn Gress, his patient owner, and amused trainer says he’s a “party animal,” and probably has the canine equivalent of attention-deficit disorder. However, his guarding instinct does pop up (if somewhat strangely) in the evening as the Ranch is settling down for sleep. As soon as Ben Gress turns in for the night, Rocky takes over the watch. He’ll pace around the house, barking furiously to scar off robbers, livestock thieves and other bad types. Sometimes it takes hours before Rocky is satisfied that he’s saved the day.
Rocky came to the Gress Mountain Ranch from Kansas when he was just a few months old. He was rescued from a too-small apartment where he was overfed, under-exercised and rode like a horse by the children. It took months of dieting to correct the weight problem. It also took months of patient training and integration with the other Ranch animals to determine that Rocky was definitely not interested in guarding the livestock.
Rocky does, however, shine in his job as a therapy dog. Rocky likes people, especially children. He lets the kids groom him, climb all over him and he often pulls them around in a wagon. Kids who can’t or won’t talk and interact with other humans, talk and interact with Rocky. This dog is also a catalyst for positive behavior in adults, encouraging communication or diffusing arguments. During psychological counseling, Rocky helps clients relax and get the most out of their sessions.
Rocky may not be doing the typical job a Great Pyrenees does, but humans sure benefit and the livestock don’t care.