Friday, October 10, 2008

Things To Be Loved: A German Shepherd

I will admit I consider myself most often a cat person, but the truth is since I was a baby I have grown up with dogs. Many of baby photos include me sitting with our family dog, Tucker, a gorgeous mixed breed, who had some of the softest hair I could remember. Many of the photos from my baby period include me inquistively grabbing his tail and him just looking at me with patience, he could have easily got up and left, but as the pictures show he let my little toddler self happily grab his tail, and explore. Years later as I went through my baby book it becomes apparent that my earliest friend and protector was Tucker; most of the stories written about me by my mother include him.
After Tucker passed away we ended up adopting a beautiful grey standard poodle puppy, Argus although for most of his life he would be called Velcro because everything stuck to him. You are probably at that point wondering how earth we ended up adopting a standard poodle, we went to the pound, and quite frankly it is amazing how unkind people can be to their dogs. Velcro was full of energy, he was a puppy afterall, and who ever had him before us had beat him with a broom. They eventually dropped him off at an animal shelter, we fell in love with him, and took him home. We only later learned about the broom issue when we took him home and we're sweeping and noticed his utter fear of the broom. What amazes me is that we poor at the time and we took home a very expensive dog. Velcro was never treated the usual life a of a standard poodle constant expensive grooming, in fact for the most part he lived the life of a ranch dog. We would shave him in the summer so that he would not over heat and believe it or not under all that fur is body very similar to a grey hound, he adored to run. Out of the all dogs we ever had he was probably the most protective, he wasn't violent, but it was quite obvious that he was a dog who took his role of protector seriously. The one creature he was scared of was our cat. A couple years later we adopted a german shepherd/labrador puppy, Jake, we only had Jake for a short time though, he was accidently hit by car. What strikes me most about this incident, was that as much a we were grieving, Velcro was the one who got it worse, not knowing what had happened, he spent a week searching for the puppy.
A year later we once again adopted another puppy, Ben, who was also another german shepherd/labrador mix. He was one of the gentlest dogs I have ever met, sweet beyond words, and utterly perfect around children. If you ever look into getting a mixed breed dog and have children I highly recommend this mix. They usually end up having the best qualities of a german shepherd and labrador, besides they are utterly cute.
I must segway to my grandparents, ever since I have known them they have had german shepherds, this is my grandmother's favorite dog.
So this all leads to something I wasn't aware of until 2 years ago, the reputation of german shepherds. As you can see I have spent a great deal of my life with this breed of dog, I have always considered them good natured dogs and perfectly fine to be around children and people. I wasn't really aware of their reputation of being vicious attack dogs until my aunt. My aunt had to move and at the time she had a young child and her german shepherd, Rex. She checked out many places and found that it is basically impossible to rent and have a german shepherd, because they are considered one of the top 3 most violent dogs. This story ends well though with Rex finding a new home with my Dad and my stepfather Jay.
What kills me though is this reputation. Rex may be the sweetest gentlest dog I know. He never barks at people, when he is taken on walks he never barks at other dogs, he will most often show happy interest towards other dogs, but if that dog barks, his attitude is to just ignore them. He is just utterly gentle and lovable. I have seen people cross streets to not walk by him, in truth he probably looks the very image of a strong violent looking german shepherd, the reality is that he is the sort of dog who great around children and strangers. His sisters are the same way, my Grandmother ended up adopting one of this sisters, and my other aunt another one of his sisters. My grandmother keeps chickens and a cat, I have never once seen, Lexie, her dog chase either of these animals. My other aunt's dog, Brenna, is best friends with their small grey cat, you can literally see these two playing, and apparently the first creature to be greeted after a long trip by the cat is the dog.
So last night I decided to go to youtube (because in general I am missing Rex and dogs in general) and look at videos of german shepherds, what amazed me was all the comments of "Wow I can't believe you let your kids/cat/puppy around them." or "Wow I can't believe how affectionate they are." This just floored me, considering my upbringing. The fact is if you properly socialize your dogs there really should be no issue of that animal being around children, puppies, or cats. Want to see this in action watch Cesar Milan, if your dog is behaving badly the issue is you and how you treat that dog. So please keep in mind that german shepherds are not inherently vicious dogs, but as with any creature, when treated poorly or not properly trained will not have the best character.
I know this is completely off top topic from the usual, but right now I really want a dog or a cat.
image provided by
image: Dog and Judge by Tessa Newcomb


Natalie said...

I too prefer dogs as perfect pet for me. I have two little puppies & a big dod.

ScentScelf said...

I've had either a dog(s) or cat(s) in my life since I was born, and frequently, both. ("Dogs and cats LIVING TOGETHER???" You bet.)

I've known other families throughout my life who had German Shepherds as their family pet. Right now, the dog in my life is the first I've/we've had as a family where I am the mom, and he is a sweet, patient, good with kids shepherd/rottwelier/husky mix. His only challenging qualities are that he loves to run/explore (that's probably the husky, and he doesn't come the way most dogs will), and that he becomes territorial around certain other dogs (he was a rescue, so we'll never know if that's disposition, or training from time on the streeets).

I completely understand your desire to have either a dog or a cat home with you. Are you able to do so?

Jenavira13 said...

Natalie, you are so lucky to have pets. Give them hugs for me.

Jenavira13 said...

Scentscelf, I would take into consideration the German Shepherd part too, Rex is great about most things but once he starts sniffing it as though his hearing goes out, he is just determined to find more smells :-P really he is the ultimate perfumista. Curious does he get agitated around small dogs? I've noticed the behaviour issue that many people do not train their small dogs very well and when allow them around larger dogs let the smaller dogs hassle the larger dog with impunity and the poor dog has to stand there.
By the way good for you for taking in a shelter dog.
I have no pets right now so I mostly give my pet love to other people's pets, Rex, or my neighbor's adorable grey cat, Gracie.
I admit I have a fondness for beagles,grey cats, german shepherds, and labradors but truthfully when I do get an animal I will most likely be getting one through an animal shelter. I believe there are too many animals out there that need good loving homes after living a life of mistreatment and neglect. But then again this is also the way I feel about children to a degree.

The Daily Connoisseur said...

Hello from London! I am a little behind on my blog reading but was once again pleased to read one of your thoughtful posts...

Adopting our dog, Gatsby (an adorable chihuahua- dachshund mix) was the best thing we ever did- he is a member of the family and I was literally in tears when I handed him off to my parents (they are watching him while we are in London).

I was like you right before I adopted him. I REALLY wanted a dog and scoured obsessively until I found him.

Hope you can have a pet soon...

Jenavira13 said...

Hey Daily,
I hope you are having a wonderful time in London.

Your Gatsby sounds adorable and I really admire that you adopted him. Sadly I won't be able to get a pet until I find a place that accepts animals. For now I will ogle the babies on I just went over there and saw the cutest puppy.

Rose said...

This is a lovely post. I love all animals really but am a total dog person.

I think German Shepherds are wonderful dogs. Here they are used as police dogs because of their intelligence and sense of smell- and I assume bravery.

I think any dog can become aggressive if it's either unhappy or encouraged by owners to think aggression is good. However in my experience if treated well most dogs would never become aggressive with a person, unless they were attacking a member of their family- and all the German shepherds I know are totally soppy and loving of everyone and always wanting to play.

I had dogs throughout my childhood but had one dog for fifteen years. I was an only child and she was always wonderful company and so patient with me when I was young. I still miss her sometimes now.

Jenavira13 said...

Rose, German Shepherds over here are also used for police work.
Pets are so wonderful to have during childhood, your dog from childhood sounds amazing; 15 years is really good.

Divina said...

I read this post a couple of days ago and didn't have time to comment at the time, but it really touched me, reading it. It also made me a little blue... I'd always wanted a dog while growing up (even in my late teenage years) and my parents would hear none of it. Now that I *could* get a dog, I feel like I couldn't handle it, because I am so busy and always active outside the house, doing so much.. Surely that is sad for a dog, to be left alone constantly. My favorite dogs are Boxers by the way, the drive me crazy with joy, the way they always paw me to the ground. All it took was one playful 'attack' when I was 14 and I've hopelessly fallen in love ever since.

I love cats too however and have been lucky to have been utterly loved by two wondrous creatures in my life. A male brute that would only ever pay attention to me and pointedly ignore everyone else (oh, how selfishly gratifying that is) and a female beauty that was the most loving cat (and great mother) I've ever known. He would sit and 'talk' to me for hours and I would talk back cause I was a toddler. Great conversation we had *chuckles*. She on the other hand was the only animal I know that would scorn food for a chance to be petted. Anyway, I'm rambling... Maybe you will find the books written by Konrad Lorenz interesting, Jen. He was an Austrian animal behaviorist. Many of his theories are very outdated by now, so what he says must not be taken at face value, however his writings are a joy to read. He led a very interesting life to be sure.

Kisses and sorry for the long rambling comment.

Jenavira13 said...

Divina, I love a good long rambling comment, it means what I wrote actually caused reflectiveness.

Your cats sound wonderful. I will eventually have to do a post about the most awesome cat ever.

Someday you will get a dog; trust me they will totally add another dimension to your life. But I totally understand why you don't have one now; they really do need lots of love and attention.

I'll have to look into Konrad Lorenz. Thanks for the tidbit.