When members of the cheese-making Bricard family say they're working to keep wolves from the door, they mean it literally.
The mountain pastures where their milk-producing goats feed, high in the Alps where the Tour de France was reaching its climax this week, are also home to wolves that will gobble up tasty livestock animals if they get the chance. Cyril Bricard says he's already lost several sheep to the predators.
So he has sheepdogs Oursone and Nele standing guard. Raised as pups to live with the Bricards' flock, which they protect as fiercely as family, the chunky dogs with a don't-mess-with-me bark roam with the goats as they nibble on wildflowers and mountain grasses that lend their flavor to the Bricards' rich, tasty cheeses.
Also lending a paw is Follow, a zealous Border Collie extremely serious about his job of herding the goats to wherever the Bricards want them to go. Goats that don't move swiftly — Look sharp! On the double! — out of the milking pen after their udders have been emptied of warm, creamy milk risk a nip at the heels from the bossy dog.
"The dogs are very important for us," Bricard said. "Both the guard dogs that protect the flock against predators and the Border Collies that help move the flock and take the goats where we want them."
"It's true that we'd sometimes be in trouble without the dogs."