I was introduced to the Show GSD e-mail list back in early 2005. A breeder friend of mine told me that now that I was getting back into the breed again, I needed to reconnect with the German Shepherd Dog community. So I sent my application in and heard from the list administration the same day. Soon my inbox was filling up with a smorgasbord of information about the breed that I held so dear to me. Many people remembered me after my long hiatus from the show dog world. I was welcomed with good cheer and embraced once again like I never left.
However, I found that I needed to be re-educated in matters of health, care, feeding and training of the German Shepherd Dog. Well everything that I needed to know was at the tip of my fingers. I just typed in a question, hit send and would receive a wealth of information on my chosen subject. I found members of this list were more than happy to help a fellow list member on any given subject about the breed.
With the information super highway known as the World Wide Web, the need for a place for German Shepherd enthusiasts to communicate was born of necessity with an almost instantaneous way of communication. From the forward thinking minds of Dr. Zoe M. Backman, Barb McGuire, Margery Golant, Dania Karloff, Lissa Cunningham, Tom Langlitz and many others, the List was realized. All of these people were volunteers and brought together by their love and passion for the breed. When the List was first started in April 1996, it was privately owned, but to protect the administrators it was incorporated as the GSD Communications, Inc. At any given time, the List always has 3-5 administrators.
The beautiful thing about the List is that it is authored by its membership. That is, the administrators are not the ones who are writing (unless needed to do so) on the list. It is the members who write and share their expertise on any given subject. And those subjects are as varied and different each day that you never know what they’ll be talking about next. It’s not unusual to find members talking about frozen or chilled semen, or using stored semen from a deceased stud dog, or discussions about feeding dogs raw vs. dry kibble. You’ll find your questions answered about health issues, structure of the German Shepherd, movement, genetics, supplements, vitamins, dog show wins and litter announcements. This is definitely a place to “strut” your stuff if your dog just did some big time winning or if you feel proud that he even placed at all at a dog show. This is the place where people will pat you on the back, encourage you to seek help with a dog related problem, or a place for a shoulder to cry on as you say good-bye to a beloved dog. It’s rare to hear of a problem that someone else hasn’t experienced. That’s why it’s safe here to share with others, because 99% of the time, someone else has experienced the same thing. Who better to get advice or information from then those who have experience in the breed? This is not like picking up some book and looking for answers and perhaps never hearing of its author. This is a place that you don’t have to put out a dime and you’ll not only get an answer from one person, but many people on the same subject.
It’s not unusual then when you bring together many different personalities about any given subject to have disagreements arise from a conversation. After all, you are dealing with people who have strong opinions about something that they feel they are experts in. Their passion is so strong that some times, you can feel it come through their type written messages. Oh they don’t mean to be unfriendly; it’s just that when they feel strongly about something, they stand behind what they are writing. After some back and forth comments from many different people who have now joined in on the conversation, most of the time a healthy resolution is agreed upon and everyone is friends again. But this is how we all learn. It’s from the passion of these people who have lived it, experienced it and who so freely share their visions and viewpoints that it might help the novice person, or open up the mind of someone who might have seen it differently. Few people lose friends this way, but many more times have gained new respect and acquired a new friend instead.
There’s a very special time in the fall on this list. For those who show their dogs on a National level, what a wealth of information awaits you here. If you are among the many who can’t attend a National GSD show, don’t feel too bad. The List (anchored by Mr. Evan Ginsburg) and directed by Dr. Zoe Backman will bring it to you right in your living room…..well almost. Both of these GSD lovers have devoted hours upon hours of their private time to bring the membership up to date information as it happens at the show. With Evan’s off the wall brand of sense of humor and Zoe’s technical expertise, the rest of us can sit back and read almost everything that happens at the National as its happening. From 1st. place to 4th. place and all the places in between, we get to enjoy the National without it costing us a penny. No plane to catch, no hotel to book, no car to rent, no jumpy nerves to contend with. Now how nice is that?!
Of the many goals of the List which includes breed rescue, education, communication of membership and Parent Clubs (German Shepherd Dog of America) and the Parent Club of Canada (German Shepherd Dog Club of Canada), perhaps the one I like the best is education of the public through responsible breeders. An educated public is one of the most important things that we can do as a breed community. If it can help keep one more GS dog out of a shelter, or prevent the back yard breeders from making another sale, then we have reached one more person. And that one more person can be the voice to help further our goals of responsible breeding and ownership of the best breed in the world!
In keeping with it’s goodwill towards the German Shepherd Dog and it’s community, the List was able to help those in need by doing a Stud Dog Auction a couple a months ago. The money that they raised for this auction was distributed among those in the GSD community who found themselves in need due to the economic melt down. It is this kind of charity that binds those in this breed and reminds us all that we are a family of like minds and goals for the betterment of the GSD and the people who love them. Although sometimes these people will not always agree with one another, you will not find a more intensely protective and loyal group of people than you’ll find in the GSD community. It is then that you’ll find that the true character of these people rising up to the occasion.
If you are like most people who belong to this educational, informative and yes sometimes wacky group of good natured people, you’ll find yourself starting your mornings with a cup of coffee and beginning your day reading the e-mails from other half awaken members as well. I mean where else can you invite, AKC judges, breeders, handlers, and GSD owners into your living room while you’re still in your pajamas? Then after a long, sometimes hard day, when the kids (both human and fur kids) are put to bed, with eyes barely open, you’ll pull up just one more e-mail from the List asking it’s members “What should I do about my dog who loves to eat it’s stools?” With a yawn, you turn off the computer and bid the List and its members a good night until the next morning when you just got to find out the answer about the stool eating dog.
The List is now over 1200 members strong. To join the List, two sponsors are required and its members may send feedback about the applicant. No one who is on suspension from the AKC or CKC or brought up on animal abuse charges or without sponsors are permitted.
I thank Dr. Zoe Backman for supplying me with information to write this article. I also thank the administration for allowing my many, many articles or stories I’ve written over these last few years to be sent over the List.
For more information about the Show GSD List……..http://showgsd.org
My rating: List content: (4), communication with members: (4), up to date information: (4), ease of reaching administration: (4)