Large herd caught "sheeping" around Penryn home

By: Martha Garcia, Loomis News Editor
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Leland and Dawn Valdez didn’t have to go to bed to count sheep last week. They just went to their front door, where Wednesday night they found about 50 sheep grazing on the lawn and munching the flowers in the yard. Keeping the sheep in their place was Chet, an Akbash cross guardian dog. The Valdez home is located on Taylor Road, less than a half-mile from the corner of English Colony Way. That’s near the five acres where the sheep had been placed for brush control. “Ours just happens to be the first driveway down Taylor Road,” said Leland Valdez. He said the entire front yard is fenced in except for the entryway, and it must have seemed like the perfect place for the dog to corral his wandering charges. According to Karin Sinclair, who had placed the sheep in the acreage behind the Valencia Club to graze on grass, the livestock was penned in by portable electric netting. She doesn’t know how the sheep were able to escape from the enclosed area. Twice. On Friday morning the restless sheep did it again, the second time heading toward Newcastle. However, she does know how they got back to their pens. The first time she herded them back with the help of Dan Macon of the Flying Mule Ranch in Auburn, who owns some of the sheep, and his Border collie. The second time they were trailered back to the Sinclair Ranch on Callison Road in Penryn, where they’re now being trained to stay within the confines of their pens under the watchful eye of Chet. Leland Valdez was impressed by the 90-pound dog’s herding skills as he kept the sheep in check in his front yard. “The dog was great,” and very well trained, Valdez said. “He was very friendly, and loved people.” According to Sinclair, the Valdez family was very nice about having the sheep take up temporary residence in their yard. “They were very good to deal with,” she said. Sinclair and her son, Matthew, quickly cleaned up the yard and reimbursed them for the flowers the next day, said Valdez. Leland and Dawn Valdez have no prior experience with livestock. They are both registered nurses: she at Sutter Roseville Medical Center and he at Kaiser Hospital in Roseville. Dealing with the sheep that filled their yard was a new and exciting experience, as the closest thing to a farm animal they’ve ever owned is chickens. They do, however, have two dogs that just happen to be miniature Australian shepherds. “They would have just loved to chase the sheep all over the place,” said Leland.