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 artnet.com
image: Dog and Judge by Tessa Newcomb