Monday, December 14, 2015

“What Kind of Dog is That?” – My Long-Haired, Soft-Eared German Shepherd Story

That is the most common question my family gets when we’re out with our German Shepherd.  Our most common comment is “What a beautiful dog!”  It’s true, especially as most people are simultaneously intrigued and gushing when they meet her.  The long fur and floppy ears also often seem to make a often feared breed far more approachable.  Maybe people think she’s a Golden Retriever-Shepherd mix!

Although I certainly support adopting shelter dogs, German Shepherds are in the “difficult to adopt from a shelter” category.  (I’d love to hear anyone’s successful shelter adoption story!)  We have had three dogs, all German Shepherds or Shepherd crosses, all from puppyhood.  Anyway, when our last Shepherd passed away two Decembers ago, we wanted to go the puppy route again.

Tora is a long-haired, red and black German Shepherd (GSD), from a breeder not too far from us.  Because of going the breeder route, we got to meet the other dogs in the breeder’s “pack”.  The dogs we met were absolutely outstanding in personality, training, and beauty.  We also returned for a couple of visits to let her hang out with her dad and another lovely male, as well as a time when all the dogs of her litter were invited to play together.  (They were a mass of mud-puddle diggers, all running around, with our super-social one often leading the games.)

Our last two dogs were trained, but not through a program.  They were both well-socialized and well behaved, but we wanted to work even harder on this one.  We were lucky enough to come across the sweetest Doberman on a walk when she was only a few months old.  He played so well with a puppy a third of his size, we had to tell his owner how impressed we were.  Our last dog had been mobbed by about two dozen Cocker Spaniels when she was a puppy and always associated small dogs with that horrible encounter.  This was one of the factors that helped us take the Doberman owner’s advice and “enroll” this one in the local Petco puppy playtime.  It was actually free, and met every Saturday and Sunday in the afternoon (check your local pet store for similar programs, if you don’t have a Petco).  After a day or two of hiding behind us, she finally was coaxed into playing with a few friendly puppies.  Over the next several weeks, she played openly with Labs, Huskies, Weimaraners, Pitbulls, and Scottish Terriers.  Our eighty-five pound German Shepherd is now the best-socialized dog we’ve ever owned, and I personally think all puppies should experience playtime with a group for a couple months.

Let me know your dog adoption story!  My first two dogs were great, but we have put so much training and socialization effort into our most recent puppy, that I believe she is nearly the most perfect dog we’ve had!  I have plenty to write on in the subject of dogs (we also have cats and rabbits), so I may be posting more along these lines in the future.

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