Updated: Sep 6
My name is Mary Alston, (Sudhop) I was born and raised in England in the beautiful countryside of Norfolk, where my parents had a large farm and bred and trained yellow and black Labradors, they were not only trained for conformation but also trained to the gun and field trial. My love for animals, especially dogs was instilled from the start. At a young age I married an American and moved to the United States, shortly thereafter I bought my first Cavalier King Charles Spaniel. The next 30 years I enjoyed breeding and showing this beautiful little breed. In 2008 I bought a 140-acre equestrian estate located in Northern Pennsylvania, not only did I fill the barn with horses but added a variety of different animals including cows, sheep, goats, alpacas, miniature donkeys, peacocks, and chickens. It didn’t take much time for the coyotes, fishers, and fox to find our beloved animals and we suffered more and more losses. I feared for my remaining animals and even more for my small Cavaliers that frequently need to go out at night for potty.
It was time to find a livestock guardian dog! In our search for the right livestock guardian dog, we realized that we faced several challenges.
We don’t have our entire property fenced in, so it was important to find a dog that didn’t roam off the property, we needed a dog that would protect our flock and animals in various areas of our farm and not roam onto the neighbor’s property which is a conservation deer farm.
We operate a rustic campground along with a petting farm, so the dog had to have a sweet loving personality towards humans especially children.
I also was looking for a breed that was healthy and preferably lived a long life.
After extensive research and visits to many different breeds, we stumbled upon the Pyrenean Mastiff. Thanks to friendly and helpful members of the club I was able to import my first Pyrenean Mastiff from Italy in 2019 and my second from Spain later the same year.
I am still amazed how wonderful this breed is, they guard the farm not only from the ground but also from above, Italia took on a coyote and won at the young age of 8 months. Our fox has seen fit to stay far away from the barn, and although the coyotes howl down at the other end of the property, they keep clear of the barns and house. It amazes me how gently our Pyrenean Mastiffs play with the Cavaliers, and how careful they are to avoid stepping on even the smallest of puppies in the house and chicks in the barn.
I have had great fun going to dog shows and showing the Pyrenean Mastiffs. (I always had handlers to show my Cavaliers, but in FSS it is owner handler) My dogs literally come off the farm, have a good wash and off they go into the ring. It is not uncommon to see a group of Pyrenean Mastiffs relaxing and lying down outside the ring, whereas other dogs are alert and standing.
My Pyrenean Mastiffs are part of my family, they patrol the farm by day, and snuggle with me at night. I recently had to draw the line about sharing the bed, since 5 Pyrenean Mastiffs didn't leave enough space for me, but they certainly take advantage of the opportunity to sit on my lap on the sofa.
This is a wonderful breed that deserves to be carefully preserved. I look forward to the future of PMAA and as it grows having the opportunity to see all the beautiful dogs, and their owners and create more friendships.
My farm was bought with money from my Mother’s estate in Norfolk, England, so I named the farm Norfolk Heritage, when naming my kennel I name it Patrimonio which means heritage in Spanish.