Monday, February 6th, 2023
Monday, February 6th, 2023

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Ohio Insider: Owner of dog that fought off pack of coyotes has Ohio roots

LITTLE DID I KNOW that on one of the last Buckeye Sportsman radio programs that we taped in late 2022 that one of the out-of-state stories host Dan Armitage talked about would come full circle for me.

The story in question involved a sheep dog in Georgia that had successfully fought off a pack of coyotes threatening his sheep herd, ultimately killing eight of the wild canines in the process. In the on air interview, I remember calling the dog “a hero” for his exploits, not knowing the particulars of the sheep dog.

As it turns out, the Great Pyrenees sheep dog belonged to a man named John Wierwille, a pastor turned small animal herder in Decatur, Georgia. When I learned the man’s name through some follow-up reading on the story, I immediately recognized it.

In the late 1990s, Wierwille just happened to be a pastor at Trinity United Church of Christ in Upper Sandusky, Ohio. It was in that Wyandot County community in 1998 when Wierwille performed the marriage ceremony for my wife Jennifer and myself.

Small world, indeed.

I hadn’t spoken to Wierwille in many years, but we had kept in semi-touch on Facebook. So, when I put two and two together and realized he was the owner of the sheep dog, Casper, I arranged a telephone call with the pastor-turned-Mennonite-turned-sheep herder.

Wierwille took a long and circuitous route from Upper Sandusky to Decatur, Georgia over the past 24-plus years.

Along the way, he became a Mennonite, built a church with some like-minded followers, and founded a livestock farm that is still operating today, although Wierwille has moved on from that church. In the middle, he was a pastor in Cincinnati where he ran one of the largest free stores and shelters in the country. Plus, the native of New Bremen, Ohio, earned a law degree along the way.

But, since the incident with Casper and the coyotes, Wierwille and his family have been inundated with media requests from as far away as The Washington Post to as close as the Atlanta Journal Constitution.

“This whole media thing just wears me out,” Wierwille, 55, told me when I phoned him in late December. “ … But, I’m just as amazed at the story as anyone else. I’m almost without words to try to explain it. I guess Casper had just had enough.”

The Great Pyrenees Casper was guarding his flock of sheep one November night when a pack of coyotes approached him and his partner, Daisy, pregnant with puppies. To make a long story short, Casper fought off the eight coyotes and then disappeared for several days while nursing severe injuries.

Wierwille says Casper is one of the most loyal dogs he’s ever owned, and he indeed is a “hero” in every sense of the word. Since the November incident, Daisy has had her puppies and the Wierwille family is currently looking to adopt them out to good homes in the area.

In the end, it was an unusual way to reconnect with an old friend talking to Wierwille for this column, but I’m certainly glad we did reconnect. He’s a good human being and he’s certainly seen a lot in his 55 years.

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