Tuesday, January 31, 2012


“I never had a love story”……how profound is that statement? Those are the words that someone wrote on a website that I belong to. When I read what the woman had to say (she was writing about her three failed marriages), I just knew that I had to use those words for an article. “How sad those words are” I thought to myself. In this whole big wide world of ours there are those that will never know what it is like to love and to be loved. Sad, indeed! There are so many different loves in ones life if we were to look for it. There’s the love of one’s children, one’s animals, love of one’s job, love of one’s friends, love of God and country and the list can go on and on. Oh I foolishly said to a friend of mine many years ago, “I just love my car!” It was a fancy little red sports car which I wanted all of my life! My friend said to me, “Barbara, you can’t love a car! It’s a thing.” He was right, I suppose, but I did love driving around it anyway! But truth be told, we are all looking for that connection with a significant other that all the other loves of our lives just aren’t capable of filling.

Some of us will love more than once or twice in our lifetime, but to find “the one” is what most of us are looking for. But what if you never do find “the one” should you give up on love altogether thinking that it’s for everyone else but not for you? There are no guarantees in life. Perhaps you will never have a “love story!” We are all capable of loving. It’s our God given right. But it doesn’t mean that we will be loved back. It’s the subject that makes the Country/Western singers a fortune and yet some of their real life “love stories” are nothing but horror stories! Maybe that’s why they’re so good about writing and singing about pain!

Now one can live a life of bitterness and exclaim, “What about me? Why doesn’t someone love me?” Or you can choose to be a loving person anyway. Love will come to us in many different ways when we open ourselves up to it. And because this is a blog about dogs and more specifically the German Shepherd Dog; let’s begin there.

I’ve written many articles about the love one can receive from their dog. There truly is nothing like it. Even the most bitter of human beings can be wilted away to a blushing fool if he surrenders and opens up his heart to the love a dog. I don’t know of another being on this planet earth that is more determined and will try harder to win your love than a dog. It is after all what he lives for. No really, it is his only purpose on this earth. We don’t eat of his flesh, or drink of his milk or use his hide for leather. He is here to love and serve us, to guide and be a companion to us. I dare say, not too unlike a partner in one’s life!

I got up this morning thinking about how short a dog’s life is and wondered why that was. My oldest dog will be 8 in a couple of months and I hate it. I had just finished reading about a friend’s dog who is 13 and how hard it is for her to get around now and I read about the love he had for her in every word that he wrote. I don’t know why our dogs live such short lives. Why are they here for such a short time? Oh I do believe with all of my heart and soul that they are here to teach us how to love. I think dogs should be called “love” because I can’t find another purpose for them to be here on earth! I found this wonderful little quote about dogs: “The dog is mentioned in the Bible eighteen times and the cat not even once!” W.E. Farbstein (referring to the Old Testament). That’s not to say the cat is not some peoples beloved pets as well. But to know the love of a dog is to have him kidnap your soul. When he leaves us, it’s like a part of our soul leaves with him. I still find myself thinking of some of my beloved dogs that have been gone for many, many years. My love for them has never ended. They shall remain with me for the rest of my life. I still dream about some of them and I love it because they remain living, loving creatures if only for the amount of time I lay sleeping.

The fear of rejection is a very strong emotion that we all have. You can love someone and they don’t have to love you back. This is never the way with a dog. They will never reject your love. For the dog lover, we are “mad as hell” that they are with us for such a short amount of time. Geez, dear Lord, we’re just “getting going” with the dog. We’ve got so many more things we want to do with him yet. We’ve got places to go, people to see, things to do yet with our dogs. Why are you taking him away so soon? We’re just getting started! “Don’t take my love away we want to scream. Not yet. We’ve got so much more loving to do yet.” All our crying and pleading doesn’t change it. The dog will only be with us for maybe 8 – 15 years and it’s never enough! So love him now, because time keeps on moving whether we want to move along with it or not!

I believe the dog is a teacher without any words to speak. He speaks volumes in his actions and in his eyes that are almost human like. He sends messages to us about life every day. He teaches us how to survive with very little, how to forgive the unforgivable, how to enjoy life with the bare minimum, and how to love the loveless. Is it any wonder why we are tortured and grieve so much when they leave us? To have a being here with us for such a short time and to show us so much about living and loving is more than most of us can bear. But if we learned what we needed to from the dog, then we will have learned that we can go on without their physical presence with us. For you see when the dog came into our lives, he also snuck into our souls and it’s there that he resides until we meet up with him again on the other side of Heaven’s gate!

A few days ago, someone posted (on Facebook) a painting of all different kinds of dogs sitting up in the clouds on the other side of Heaven’s Gate waiting to be rejoined with their masters. I loved it and pray that God does rejoin us all with our beloved pets someday. They are by far some of the most angelic creatures put on this earth in my opinion!

There was a popular love song written back in 1984 called “I Want to Know What Love Is.” Some of us may never find it with another human being, but I believe God sends us love in many different ways. So if you never had a “Love Story”, but instead had the love of a dog, you have truly known the purity of what love is suppose to be. Grab onto her fast for she leaves us all too quickly. Your dog may just end up being the love of your life. It may have not been the love you were looking for, but it’s what you got and your life may never be the same again.

So if your dog is laying by your side right now like mine is snoring away as loud as a truck driver, reach down and pet her on her head and let her know that you love her. Oh loving doesn’t come without pain whether it is with another human being or your dog, but which ever it may be; hold on fast because you’re in for the time of your life. Embrace it; be thankful for it even if it’s for the short time you share with your dog. All it means is that you’re alive and still kicking and you can keep on kicking until you take your last breath. You are loved! Maybe you didn’t know it then, but the two of you began writing your own love story the moment God sent her to you.

Is it true then, “It’s better to have loved and lost than to never have loved at all?” This writer thinks so!

My rating: dog ownership: (4)!

Saturday, December 31, 2011


A few weeks ago, I wrote about this subject and then just this past week, I got an e-mail from two other concerned dog owners asking me to support them about this kind of behavior on Facebook. I never posted this on my blog, but now I am.


I bet most of the people that are on your Facebook page you don’t even know. I doubt that most of us know the couple of hundred or more people that call us “friends” as friends. I mean can you call anyone of them up at three o’clock in the morning needing help and expecting to hear them say, “I’ll be right over!”

When I joined Facebook, I did so because I wanted to connect with family and friends and perhaps make some new friends. I joined to be entertained and amused and never took it seriously. I considered it light entertainment. I enjoy looking and sharing pictures and videos with my friends. I enjoy reading and posting quotations. What I don’t enjoy looking at or reading about is cruelty to animals! I am repulsed and sickened by the horrific and graphic pictures that some post on Facebook! I did not invite anyone on my Facebook to post such disgusting pictures.

A couple of weeks ago someone felt the need to post a picture of a dog being roasted on an open pit like a suckling pig! I see pictures of dogs used as target practice with their bloody wounds practically bleeding through the page. It's just too much sometimes. Then just a few nights ago when I thought I seen it all, I hadn’t. As I scrolled down the page, imagine my shock and repulsion when staring helplessly back at me was a picture of a German Shepherd (or what was left of him) with half his face blown off! It seems that some perverted kids were looking to have “fun” and decided to stick explosives in this poor helpless dog’s mouth that they so generously duct taped shut! I’m surprised he was still alive……his whole jaw and nose was missing. Obviously he must have been put to sleep as he could never live without these things on his face.

We live in a sometimes very brutal and sadistic world. I know what goes on out there. I read the news or see it on television. I do not need or appreciate seeing these types of graphic photographs on my Facebook page. This person was removed from sending me any more photographs as was the second person that felt the need to post it again last night.

If one feels like they MUST get the word out there about the lowest ones that masquerade themselves as human beings, PLEASE put a WARNING on your subject matter and include a link for those that want to view the photograph. I choose not to look at these types of pictures and would NEVER open a link that warned me about the graphic nature of the subject. But at least I get to choose what I want to look at or not. PLEASE don’t make up my mind for me by sending this type of material through.

Let me tell you how I reacted when I saw the roasted dog. I cried and had a talk to God about the cruelty in the world. I shook my head in disbelief. Now how did I act upon seeing the German Shepherd with half his face blown off? I became hysterical crying and I had to get up and go into the bathroom because I was gagging so badly from the sight of the horrific picture. The dog’s black eye’s stared back at me from the white page with his erect ears still standing tall reminding me that he was still a German Shepherd with only a bloody pulp left where his beautiful nose and mouth once graced his face. What did this poor animal do to deserve this fate? Nothing he could have done could ever have warranted this type of punishment!

I never did read the story because I was too sick to do so. I just read that some kids did this to him. When we live in a society that produces MONSTER’S in children, I say to myself that I don’t belong here. So let’s see now what our law enforcement will do about this? Are they underage kids? Will they get a slap on their wrists? Will they have to do community service for a month or two? Community service? What the hell does that teach them? Go blow up an animal or torture it to death and for your punishment you’ll have to sweep the streets of its debris for a month or two. I’m sure they’ll learn their lesson with that one! Their sorry little butts need to be locked away for awhile with some real hard ass criminals that will teach them a thing or two about what it means to be scared. Just like they scared this dog when they taped his month shut. Oh boy, these kids are lucky they don’t have me as a parent……but then again if I produced kids like this, I’d pick up the mirror and question myself as a parent to begin with! If this case ever went to court (I doubt it), these kids would never want me on the jury. I’d do everything in my power to make sure that they “reaped what they sowed!”

Until our laws change and take animal abuse more seriously, we will be rubbing elbows with the future menaces to society. Animal abuse is the first step in the serial killers demonic “rap sheet!”

So once again if I see anymore of these disgusting pictures, I will delete the people that are responsible for posting it. I know we live in a sometimes cruel, cold world, but there is also many good things going on in it as well. I choose to read about those things. Let me have a choice as to what it is I want to read and see. Put a WARNING on your post so I know to avoid it!

My rating: 1 - 4 depending.....

Tuesday, October 18, 2011



A better question would be what becomes of a dog once she finishes her championship and she lives in the Cohen household? Chances are once a male becomes a champion and especially if he adds Select to his title, the German Shepherd population will know more about him than if it’s a bitch that has done the same thing. Of course if she becomes a top ROM producing dam then that’s another story. Ever wonder what becomes of some of these lovely girls that had such wonderful show careers? Well if she’s raised in the Cohen’s house (Lorraine and Marc) and her name is Select #2 Ch Cathelin Azeri of Hallmark one might find her sailing up and down the coast line of Washington. Or she might be accompanying Marc on one of his veterinarian lectures sitting right up on the podium next to him. After all she’s used to being put on display and the stares and smiles directed at her has all been shown to her before. She takes it all in stride and is more concerned about the dinner that she and Marc will be sharing back at the hotel later on. So if a bored yawn escapes her mouth, it’s not that she’s unappreciative of her adoring admirers, it’s just that she’s looking forward to a favorite treat that awaits her back in the hotel room.

Annie is the queen of the Cohen house and the other dogs (many of them being her kids and grandkids) know it and show her the respect that she’s grown accustomed to. Many of them are following in Annie’s illustrious show career with major points and Best in Futurity wins and class winners.

As much as Annie enjoys the comforts of her home or traveling with Marc on his lecture circuits, one of her passions has been those lazy days spending time sailing up and down the coastline of Washington where she resides. Although Annie is not the only dog in the Cohen household that has shared in this beloved sport of Lorraine and Marc’s, she usually accompanies them the most. It’s a privilege that she’s earned! The latest adventure found the Cohen’s and Annie sailing through the straights up to Canada. Lorraine told me that they ran into (or better put) ran away from a storm that was chopping up the sea that they set sail on. In typical Annie fashion, she took it all in stride. If it was good enough for her masters, then it was good enough for her as well.

Annie has her own life jacket and her infamous little red booties that she wears on those rougher days out at sea to help prevent her from sliding on the wet deck. She tolerates her embarrassing red booties surprisingly enough more than her constricting life jacket. I wonder what her show dog competitors would think of her walking around in red booties and a life jacket. Jeez!

Come dinnertime, a plate is set at the table for the Queen to join her masters as they discuss their day at sea. Lorraine swears that Annie understands many of their conversations. No matter how rough the seas can get, Annie never gets sea sick or nervous as the writer of this article would be! I guess that’s why she’s a true German Shepherd……she’s a brave little soul!

And what about when “mother nature calls?” Going potty on the deck of the boat is something that Annie refuses to do. She’s such a lady! Instead, she enjoys her little boat rides on the dinghy that takes her and Marc to shore. One would swear that she’s just looking for an excuse to feel the sand between her toes and run along the beach with Marc. Lorraine says that she loves it! Is this a dog that enjoys life or what?

Most days find Annie walking around up on deck taking in the sights and smelling the fresh air and sea water. Some days a stray seagull or two might hitch a ride to the sails of the “SV Gantman” (the name of the boat) to see what a German Shepherd is doing away from land. Once their curiosity is satisfied, they turn a disinterested eye away and fly beyond the horizon until Annie loses site of the feathered creatures.

Annie is eight years young now having just celebrated a birthday on August 17th. One would swear that she’s still a puppy the way that she “tells off” the resident dogs that live on the docks on boats with their owners. So this is when the “Queen” is put on a leash and hooked up to the “grab rail” down in the salon of the boat as they leave the docks. It’s as if she’s letting them know how special she is. I guess she forgets that she’s no longer home ruling her domain and these dock dogs aren’t at all impressed with her show dog titles. To them, she’s just another one of those loud, boisterous German Shepherds trying to push her weight around. They are most thankful when the “SV Gantman” prepares to set sail with “that dog of theirs.” A male dog lifts his leg to relieve himself where their boat was docked as if saying “Bon Voyage Ms. Show dog!” And as they further drift out to sea, one can still hear Annie in the belly of the boat barking in defiance at the dock dogs’ indifference to her!

I was delighted to meet Annie in person when I shared a room with her owner Lorraine at the 2005 National where I saw this beautiful representative of the breed deservingly take her Select 2 title! Annie is everything that a German Shepherd should be. Besides her successful show career and her equally impressive offspring, Annie is the type of dog anyone would be happy and proud to own. She’s beauty, brains and bravado all wrapped up in one tightly neat little black and red package!

Back at the Cohen’s house bed time can prove challenging for Marc as sometimes he finds himself in the awkward position of “asking” Annie if she doesn’t mind moving her little body over so he can climb in as well. Oh it’s not that she’s selfish, but if she gets into bed first then she’s claimed that spot as her own for the night and “those other two” have to scramble to find a comfortable spot of their own. Did I say already that Annie is one smart canine?!

Annie is retired from the show ring now and lives a very happy and content life……..”You think?”

My rating: Living, loving and playing with your German Shepherd: (4)

Friday, August 19, 2011


Quick, if someone asked you to name the all time greatest German Shepherd Dog in the history of the breed, who would you say? How about if they asked you who the best looking dog of all time was? Want to make a bet that you would name a male dog for both of those questions?

Admit it, when you were a kid and someone would mention the German Shepherd Dog, I bet you would visualize a male dog. I know that I did. I’ve always loved the noble look of this breed. I visualized them as being a masculine, big boned dog with a great big old head. I thought of them as a powerful breed; strong and courageous and willing to defend you with their life! Not once did I ever think of a German Shepherd bitch when I thought about this breed! For some reason, thinking of a German Shepherd brings up a picture in most peoples mind of the majestic male of this breed. Many times if your parents bought a German Shepherd as a pet, nine times out of ten, it was probably a male. They were probably looking for a guardian for their family, but more importantly a powerful protector of their property and valuables.

There’s just something about the noble German Shepherd Dog that makes you think in terms of the males of this breed. On the other hand, if you’re thinking of a lap dog, many times you might think in terms of a female.

When I first started out in this breed, a male is all I ever thought about owning. I wanted a big masculine dog that would turn people’s heads when I walked down the street with him. “That’s right, we’re cool. I got myself a big “bad boy!” I wanted a dog that commanded people’s respect and in my mind, what better way to do this than with a male German Shepherd? That was my mind set then. German Shepherd Dogs equaled male dogs! That was until I was knocked down a few pegs when one of my very first lessons in this breed is when someone told me: “Your kennel is only as good as the bitches you own!” Really? But I loved the males. That might have been true, but unless he was a star, I would be just about the only one that loved him. He would never be used for public stud and would only remain my beloved pet! Boy, that didn’t seem fair at all! I mean after all he had the same bloodlines as his more desirable litter sister! How come it was OK for me to keep her and not him? Seemed like a reasonable question to me at the time.

I was told that if the bitch didn’t turn out for showing, I could always breed her to a top producing stud dog and perhaps get a show quality puppy or two. On the other hand, if I kept her brother and he didn’t turn out, no one would breed to him, except me and that would mean I would have to go out and buy myself a bitch to breed to him. It looked like if I wanted to have any little bit of success in this breed, I’d better learn to follow the advise of those seasoned pros that proved what they were saying was true by keeping mostly bitches in their kennels. However, the few males if any that they owned were all top winning dogs.

I would soon find out the difference in owning males compared to owning bitches! Both sexes certainly have their own unique personalities. I find it very different owning a bitch compared to a male. The majority of German Shepherds that I’ve owned have been bitches; so therefore, the majority of my favorite dogs throughout the years have been females. That said I still miss the males. I find that they are easier to get along with as long as you don’t have females in season! Most of the time they make great house dogs! Very much like the human male, they can be big babies!!! They like to be pampered and loved on and thrive on attention. Most of the time, they're quieter than the bitches.

The female on the other hand has earned her title (and wears it proudly) of being called a bitch and everything that the word may stand for! She is nobility at its best. She may even be the homeliest little thing that was ever born, or even the runt of the litter but don’t tell her that, because she’d never believe it. She’s too into herself strutting around like she owns the place. And if truth be told, she does (well in her own mind anyway)! She rules her domain by either being a showoff looking for endless adoration or ruling with a quiet dignified look to anyone that might challenge or doubt her. With her dark Hershey brown eyes, ears standing strong and centered resting on a fabulous feminine head well there's just nothing more breathtaking!

The bitches are definitely unique in how they view their world. They can be cunning, inquisitive, and sometimes oh so challenging! Living with bitches means there is never a dull moment. There is nothing funnier than when you see a 90 pound male submitting to the 58 pound “Queen Bee” as she steals his favorite toy only to drop it after she gets it. Then she runs over to put her teeth gently but firmly across his mouth to let him know she really didn’t want it at all but to let him know she can have it anytime she pleases! It’s like she’s saying, “I don’t really want it, but I don’t want you to have it either!” Can we say "Diva" here? Hmm…….sounds like some human bitches that I know of!

As far as watchdogs, both sexes of this breed are excellent, but sometimes the bitches can be just a little be nastier than her male housemate! She has to make up for all his bravado so what she may lack in strength, she makes up for in speed! They’re quick and it’s almost like their maternal instincts kick in when defending their human family and property. They’re very purpose driven; not being satisfied until they accomplish what they’ve set out to do. For sheer strength and power, you couldn’t want a more formidable defender than the male German Shepherd. He is not a dog that an intruder wants to find greeting him. But for sheer quickness and agility all the exercise and jogging in the world won’t save the perpetrator from the sheer cunning of the bitch of this breed! If you trespass on this breeds property, their goal is to get you and they’re going to “get you good!”

Living with the male German Shepherd he has learned how to manipulate his humans to get what he wants by surprising them with his “big baby” ways. Those big old brown “cow eyes” that hold you in his stare makes for some “laugh out loud” moments. Few can resist this big macho dog collapsing at your side for a belly rub. The bitch can be more demanding of your attention by moaning, groaning and whining when she feels her needs are not being met. If she were human, this would probably equate to the not so nice label of being called a “nag!” Oh they do keep us on our toes!

So no matter what sex you decide upon, living with a German Shepherd is always an adventure. You never know what your day is going to be like with these guys, but one thing is for certain, it’s never going to be boring. They make sure it’s not. They’re just too darn smart for that!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011


Being a part of the Facebook community allows us to make friendships with people that most of us will never meet in person. But everyday we invite these strangers into our living rooms to share a piece of our lives with them and them with us. It's a comfortable environment. We can pour ourselves a cup of coffee and lounge around in our pajamas without having to get a robe to cover up. We get a peek into their relationships both good and bad. Sometimes they share too much information, but some feel this is a good way for them to vent their frustrations and disappointments. There also are lots of good news........babies born, engagements announced, birthdays celebrated, etc. Then there are the deaths and those that are grieving for their lost loved ones. Well yesterday one of these loses came across on my screen. This was from a man who seems extremely popular and well liked if the number of responses he gets from people everyday is any indicator of this. I don't know him personally, but by reading his posts everyday, I feel I know a little something about him. We share his life through his pictures he shares with us and his words he writes on his posts. You can tell this man has a lot of love in his heart for those that are in his life and his beloved dogs. They say every picture tells a story and in his case this is very true. The picture that he posted yesterday will remain in my memory for a very long time.

Most people think of women as being the ones that can share their pain and express their emotions more easily than a man does. I mean we are raised in a culture that applauds the hero in men, the strong, the noble.....the "men don't cry" persona. You know the mind set......big boys don't cry! Well yesterday, this man's picture blew that mind set out of the water! His picture showed just two faces, two faces with their heads laying down on the floor. The man had his head touching his dog's head. A picture of a man and his dying dog stared back at me. The black eyes against the dark fur with a blank look in her eyes and the sorrowful eyes of the man who was saying good bye to his beloved dog was a picture of unquestionable love. "Good bye my friend, good bye a part of my heart" spoke to me from that page. We shared in his sorrow. We knew that we were looking at a very special bond with a man and his dog. He shared with us his vulnerability; unashamed of his sorrowful heart. Although it was very heartbreaking knowing the pain he was suffering, it was also very beautiful seeing this man share his softer side. I say that because I look at all his pictures and he seems like a macho type of guy. He trains his dogs and shares those pictures with us as well. They are so beautifully trained and cared for and loved. He handles and loves his puppies with a loving, gentle but firm hand. We see pictures of him and his love who he just became engaged to. We see him and his sons and his grandchildren. This is a man who is loving his life and has much to be thankful for. But it's the loss of his very special dog that brings him to his knees.

When there are times when our hearts are heavy, it seems that it's just you and your beloved dog against the world. He's got your back covered. When he's no longer there, it's just your memories that get you through. For all the times that you cried, he was there to lick away your tears and reassure you when you didn't feel so sure yourself that all would be alright. He never left your side. It's when he has to leave your side that you may feel alone against the world. But if you watched the lessons that your dog taught you throughout his short life, you will take that love into all the other areas and relationships in your life. You see once you've decided to own and love a dog, your heart no longer belongs to you. You've just signed up for 10 - 15 years of unquestionable love, but nothing can prepare us for when that purity of love is taken from us. They may have taught us how to love, but they never taught us how to say goodbye!

You may ask how can one of God's creatures that is not another human being do this to us? To ask that question would mean you never shared your heart and life with a dog. If you view the dog as "just a dog" than you missed the whole point of that animal coming into your life to begin with. It is this writers belief that the dog is one of God's angels on this earth. If you own a dog and you miss that, you've missed one of life's greatest mysteries. There is no other purpose for them to be here. Sure you can train them, use them for herding, protection, breeding, etc. If you miss the point that dogs are pure love and I mean pure love because of their desire to only be with man, then you have missed the opportunity that has been given to you. This is why I feel that they are here such a short time on earth. They are here to teach man about loving and if you ignore it, you've denied yourself the most beautiful of all emotions, the most beautiful of all gifts. If you just breed them for the champions that they may produce or the dust collecting trophies that you may accumulate than you have used the dog for your own glory instead of the blessings that has been bestowed on you for even being in their presence. They are angels. You can be sure of that. They can do no bad unless they are ignored and forgotten about. Then you are left with a dog that is angry at you for not recognizing his real purpose here on earth. Listen to what he is saying to you without his capability to utter a single word. If you don't know that love is standing in front of you and if you've ignored it, then you've ignored that angel that was sent to you. Think dog spelled backwards is God is a coincidence? If you believe that God is love and loves unconditionally, then the dog that he has sent to you is indeed a Heavenly gift.

So I'm sure this man on Facebook will compose himself and continue to love the rest of his dogs, but he'll never forget the girl he just said goodbye to. He's acknowledged the fact that she was love. He said that she was his beginning. She took a part of his heart to Heaven with her where it will be written in the Book of Life.........this man knows how to love. Good night "Mocha," your time on earth was well spent! You did what you came here to do. Your master was touched by an angel and he'll never be quite the same again!

From the book: GOODBYE FRIEND: HEALING WISDOM FOR ANYONE WHO HAS EVER LOST A PET: For pet lovers, the loss of a cherished pet ranks almost as high as the loss of a close family member in terms of grief experienced. In Goodbye, Friend, Gary Kowalski takes you on a journey of healing offering warmth, guidance, and practical advice on how to deal effectively with death by honoring your animal companion's life. A superb and comforting book for both adults and children.

My rating: Dealing with the loss of a dog: (1 - 4).....there are stages we all must go through to it through it!

Thursday, July 7, 2011


So the last couple of times that I talked to one of my friends she has made mention of wanting to get a bigger dog. Mind you MOST of the time throughout her years, she has owned smaller dogs. WAY smaller…….having owned and still owns a Chihuahua! Now let me explain to you a little more about my friend. She’s a lovely woman with a kind heart and has a beautiful home. She is elderly (69 – 70) but looks and acts more like a 59 – 60 year old. In fact she looks wonderful! Did I mention that she has a beautiful home? Oh yeah, I just did. Well this “youthful” looking 70ish year old woman is what I call a “Fuss Ass” meaning she is a fanatic in her home!

About two years ago my friend rescued a Chihuahua mixed female to come live with her and her husband and her purebred female Chihuahua. Life was wonderful when the new puppy arrived. Her other dog now had a companion and my friend had a new “baby” to love. It seems the purebred is more her husband’s dog than hers. So this “new kid on the block” would be hers to spoil and love on. She’d call me up to ask about advice about food and health questions. The puppy was extremely loving and extremely “puppy” in behavior.

So the cute, adorable love fest went on for awhile until the “puppy antics” showed its ugly little head a little more than my friend could or would tolerate. First of all the pup had the terrible, yucky habit of eating her stools. She tried everything that I suggested and the stools were still her puppy’s “treat of choice!” Take one point off for stool eating.

Next the little rascal starting eating her wallpaper off of her walls. Seems she had one favorite place for doing this. Take off another point for wall paper eating. Then there were the usual puppy leaks on the floor and carpet. Yup another point was taken off for puppy potty deposits in the house. I encouraged her to get a dog crate which she did and the puppy was fine with going into her “den.” But it was those times that she was out of the den that left “Mrs. Susie Homemaker’s” nerves stretched to its limits. Now mind you this is a woman that is a fanatic in her home. I’m sure she must walk around the house with a spray bottle of Lysol attached to her pants. Smudge marks, muddy paw prints, water on the floor, dog biscuit crumbs might just send her running to the medicine cabinet for another tranquilizer!

She bought a new mat to place in front of her back door. Seems like the little mixed breed thought it was her invitation to leave her “tinkles” on it. So now the last point was taken off! It looks as though the little dog ran out of points and second and third chances! So long story short, she just placed the “new kid on the block” on someone else’s block to live and they love her very much; especially the teenage daughter. So the youngster is doing fine, but now my friend is experiencing the “empty nest” syndrome!

So she gets this brainstorm that she must get a large dog. Her birthday is coming up soon and her husband asked her what would she like? Wrong question to ask a “determined to get what she wants” obsessed woman!!! Her husband is not in favor of a large dog mind you! So she runs this by me again yesterday. So I went down a whole list of reasons why she should not get a large dog. This is what I told her……..small dog = small problems. Large dog = large problems! Now I’m not saying that large dogs are necessarily problem dogs, but they are dogs after all and dogs do, well doggie things!

She says to me, “Well you have three large dogs.” Yeah and I say to her, I’m not a fanatic around the house either or I would have shot them a long time ago! I told her there is no guarantee about her new dog’s personality traits. I might have three dogs, but they are most certainly different in personality. My house dog is a great house dog. Her daughters are horrible house dogs. Yes, yes, I know a trained and obedient dog is a wonderful dog to live with. But therein lies the key……..personality traits also dictate the obedience time spent on training a dog. My housedog is very smart and willing to learn. Her nerves and concentration level is more steady. I believe her two daughters have “attention deficit disorder!” Oh they’re very smart too, but their concentration level is on another planet somewhere! And with my own health issues and my lack of physical endurance and strength, I must use caution when trying to train them. A younger me probably could have trained them properly, but the older me just can’t keep up with these two. So these are things my friend needs to think about as well. Does she have the strength and health to train a dog of this size? The little dog she can just pick up and put him back down again. Try doing that with a 60 – 90 pound dog!

Oh yeah, I also mentioned to her that she better get ready to change her home owners insurance now that she was getting a large “guard dog!” I told her depending upon where she lived, she might have a hard time getting insurance once she owned this type of breed. She didn’t think of that before.

Having owned German Shepherds for most of my adult life, I find them great dogs to live with, but there are those occasional few (like two of mine) that might make you rethink about owning them at all. They can be destructive. They are highly intelligent and they never miss a trick. Their noses are on everything because of their need to investigate anything new that might come into the house. They might communicate with you that they want to go outside by smudging their noses on your sliding glass door or scratching at the back door with their heavy paws. Be prepared to use your vacuum cleaner a heck of a lot more than you normally would. Hair and dander removal from rugs, floors, clothes, etc. is a normal part of your life now. Smudges and scratches and dog hair and dander are not for the fanatic housekeeping type. Before I get those private e-mails sent to me…………I AM NOT SAYING LARGE BREED DOG OWNERS ARE LOUSY HOUSEKEEPERS! I’m just saying that having a larger dog is more work than having a smaller dog. Oh yeah, lets not forget about cleaning up after them after they have done a “potty call!” It’s a whole lot different then picking up after a smaller dog!

So to my friend that is thinking of adding 70 or 80 more pounds of dog flesh and hair to your beautiful, “magazine picture perfect home,” do heed my advice. Your friends and family don’t want to see your face plastered on the front page of the National Enquirer announcing “Woman locked away for the rest of her life” because large dog squashed his nose against her windowpane for the hundredth time. Enjoy your little dog and the teeny tiny piddle that she may leave behind because it’s a heck of a lot easier to clean than a darn lake all over your antique Oriental rug!

My rating: Large dogs or small dogs: (4), Taking care of large dogs: (2), Taking care of small dogs: (3)

Tuesday, June 14, 2011


If you go on any given e-mail list that is sharing their opinions about our beloved breed, you are bound to run into a few disgruntled people. Emotions can become rapidly agitated and tempers can reach the boiling point. Like the German Shepherd Dog that they own, they are a proud community. They feel things strongly and "Oh my goodness," challenge their viewpoints and sometimes the "uglies" spew out of their mouths, feelings become hurt and sometime friendships strained or lost forever! But like the most faithful dog on the planet (of course that's the German Shepherd Dog), the majority of the people connected to this breed when called upon for help, step up to the plate and score a home run! I always knew that I had made some wonderful friendships in this breed, but little did I know how wonderful they truly were. Even more surprising were those in our community that I never met who was right there for me during my hard times. Most people know people in this breed by the dogs they own and show, but sometimes we forget that they are human beings before they were ever a dog person. I am so blessed and so appreciative to all of you that reached out to me. It proves that there are, indeed, angels right here on earth.

It all began with my dog "Amber." Yup I wanted to include her here on my list of "thank-you's!" Like most German Shepherds, she's very smart and very curious. I remember how she would come up to me looking for a pat on the head because she's an extremely affectionate dog. When I look back on it, many, many times she would take her big black German Shepherd Dog nose and press it against my stomach and sniff and snort loudly. I would jokingly say to her, "What are you smelling Amber.......some bad stuff inside of me?" I've had some health problems these past several years so nothing surprised me anymore. Now I know what it was she was smelling. They say that a dog can smell cancer or other illnesses that you may be harboring inside. I was convinced that she did just that! So pay attention if your dog is paying attention to you a little more than usual.

When I was first diagnosed with uterine cancer and told some of my closest friends in the breed, they all were concerned and before I even knew what hit me, they were busy behind the lines, if you will! So here goes with all the many "thank you's" that I need to say. The first one goes out to my dear friend Marilyn Smith. Many of you only know her for the lovely animals that she's bred. But Marilyn is much more than a friend to the German Shepherd Dog. She is a friend that goes out of her way more times than not when someone is in need. She has this calm demeanor but don't let that fool you, she knows how to get things done. I told her that I was very concerned for my three dogs when I go to the hospital and then when I come home for my recovery. I knew that I wouldn't have the money to have people come in to take care of my dogs. She told me that she didn't want me to worry about my dogs. She said "You get your operation and I'll take care of the rest." And true to her word, she did. First she gave me the number of a organization that helps dog people when they become ill. It's called "Take the Lead." I contacted them and filled out the papers that they asked me to only to be told that it was too expensive to pay these dog sitters and with a "pat on the back" wished me well and sent me on my way. In my opinion, their attitude was not very friendly and almost made you feel guilty for being sick at all. They depend on donations to help their cause. I'm sure other people that they helped would give them a favorable review. I'm sorry that I will not be counted as one of those people. In my opinion they need more friendly, sympathetic people that answer their phones and deal with ill people. While I understand that they can't help all that may come to them, they need to do some work on learning how to turn people down with more kindness than they do now. They may be dog friendly, but I didn't feel they were very people friendly!!!!

Marilyn reassured me that all was not lost. She said she was going to contact the "Sunshine Squad" from the German Shepherd Dog Show list. So she placed a call to Doc. Zoe and called me back to let me know she was waiting to hear back from her. Later that night, Marilyn and I were talking again and she was getting a call from Zoe and told me she would call me back. A little while later, she excitedly told me that I was approved and for me to call up those dog sitters and book them to come take care of my dogs. I cried with joy as my dogs were a major concern for me. Now I could go get my insides cut out of me with a smile on my face!!!! (Not)! My dogs were going to be taken care of!!! Doc Zoe was marvelous to talk with and so very supportive during my hardest times. She wrote to me and called me several times to make sure I was doing well. Think she's just one of the administrators and founding members of the Show Dog list? Then you don't really know one of the kindest people that I didn't really know either!!! The Sunshine Squad is a marvelous charitable organization that helps fellow German Shepherd enthusiasts that are in need during their trials and tribulations. The word "sunshine" is an appropriate name for this organization because that is just what they did for me...........brought a little sunshine during some of the blackest days of my life. I don't know all those that contribute to this wonderful organization but from the bottom of my "itty bittie" heart, thanking you and Marilyn seems so inadequate! God bless you all! Please check out the Sunshine Squad's link here. It offers so many different resources for those that are in need. And donations are gladly accepted for you never know when you too may need assistance! It's a great website for information. http://showgsd.org/sunshine.html

And then there's my good friend who makes me laugh more than most. You guys may only know her as that lady from "Last Hope, Safe Haven." Yup that's the one and only Dawn Restuccia! I asked her to take over my e-mail list (The GSD Showcase) in my absence and she graciously accepted. But more than supporting my e-mail list, it was that chicken soup of hers that most impressed me! Since the time that she knew that I was ill, she kept saying to me that she wished she lived closer so she could make me some homemade chicken soup. Then one day she gets this brainstorm (she's gets a lot of these) and tells me that she's going to send it me in the mail!!! I thought she was kidding and told her she was crazy and I just laughed it off knowing what a "joker" she is. Well no she wasn't kidding and yes she is crazy because "lo and behold" there's a big box waiting for me on my doorstep one morning! I look at the return address and it's from Massachusetts. Who do I know that lives up there? It could only be Dawn! I open up this overly taped up box that houses a big old bowl that she froze in her freezer. It's taped up with a gazillion wrappings that took me forever to remove. Sure enough there's the soup that she told me took three pounds of chicken to make! Can you believe it?! And "man of man"..........the woman can cook! My stomach loved every spoonful. Knowing Dawn has been a true pleasure in my life! Thank you dear friend. You are really special.....even if you are a little crazy!

Thank you to all my other many friends in the breed for your many phone calls and e-mails. They all meant so much to me. It's true, you really don't know who your friends are until you are in need of their friendship. It's so easy to be a "friend" to someone when their life is good. It's those people that hang around when your life stinks that are true friends! Those that impressed me the most were those that I never met who reached out to me. Thank you very much. There was Steve up in Maine that offered to take care of my dogs for me. There was Bruce who had prayers said for me in his church as many others did as well. There was a special e-mail group of German Shepherd people who say prayers for the sick and dying and Deb would send me prayer updates all the time. The list goes on and on. I never really appreciated how truly blessed I am until I became ill. I never felt sorry for myself and asked, "Why did this happen to me dear Lord?" I just accepted it and knew I was in God's hands and he already knew what was going to happen to me anyway! Life is what it is............not always easy, not always fun, and certainly not what you may want it to be, but it is what it is. You can either accept it or fall down and crumble, moan, groan and complain or "get up" and go on! Well I'm still here for as long as God wants me here because I know he has work for me to do yet in whatever way he chooses to use me. All I know is that I am blessed.

I also want to thank my family that has been here for me. You already read about my youngest brother, but my other brother Jedd has been a God send to me as well. He was with me after my first operation and waited with me in the recovery room and listened to my endless drug induced chatter for what must have seemed like hours on end! He has the patience of a saint for that one. I was no better in his immaculate car when I threatened to get sick in it from the triple morphine running through my veins. He got me home just in time because what I threatened to do in his car, I did in the kitchen sink. Yucky! Sorry for the visual, but I'm telling my story as it was! Then he also took me down for my follow up at Sloan Kettering which ended up being an all day event because of more testing. We left at 9 in the morning and returned at 9 in the evening!

Then there's my sister who commissioned the dog sitters to stay a few weeks longer. Thank God because I just couldn't do the physical work needed to take care of them! Then there's my cousins that called me all the time and my best friend Brenda who has been "too kind for words!" She's like a second sister to me!

I have to say something here about my faith. I have very strong feelings about it. But there are times when you wonder what you are going to do about something that you see no way through. I experienced this many times during my trials. I wondered how I was going to do this or that. One day I was walking through the kitchen talking to myself and asking myself these exact questions. I felt my blood pressure elevated and through my "self talk", I heard a silent voice say in answer to my questions........"Ye of little faith!" You have no idea of how enlightening that was to me! I had to remind myself........"Let go and let God!" And because my faith is strong (although tested many times), God was there for me once again.................he worked his miracle through all of you guys that were there for me! So next time you go to a show, say hello to a stranger. Help out a newbie that is looking for a friend. You just never know if he was sent to you as your "Guiding Angel" for sometime in the future!

So this has been my journey. I am still recovering and it's a slow process. I live my life one day at a time. For all those that reached out to me in this breed.............you are so much more than just a breeder or exhibitor. You are special human beings above anything else. Some of you may never own a champion and some of you own more than your share of them, but to me, you are champions among people!!! You may not have a title just yet, but your crown is reserved by a judge far better suited to judge than any AKC licensed judge on this earth!!!

From the book: A SECOND HELPING OF CHICKEN SOUP FOR THE SOUL: The runaway bestseller Chicken Soup for the Soul captured the imagination of millions of readers with its uplifting message of hope and inspiration. With a nation still hungering for more good news, Canfield and Hansen went back to work and cooked up another batch of life-affirming stories to warm your heart and soothe your soul.

Through the experiences of others, readers from all walks of life can learn the gift of love, the power of perseverance, the joy of parenting and the vital energy of dreaming. Share the magic that will change forever how you look at yourself and the world around you.

My rating: "Sunshine Squad": (4), Chicken Soup for the Soul books: (4), most German Shepherd Dog people: (4)!