Tuesday, November 17, 2009
MORE THAN A PRETTY FACE
Although a well bred German Shepherd dog can be very pleasing to the eye and a properly structured dog can take your breath away when he gaits, make no mistake about it, this breed was bred for his working and herding abilities. With today’s compromised economy, just think if you were able to send your German Shepherd out to work how he could contribute to the household! No, I’m not kidding, if you live with a German Shepherd dog you’re living with one of the smartest and easiest to train dogs on the planet. Just how many of them ever attain all that they could? Once this dog is taught something, it amazes me how they still remember it even if you don’t often ask it of them.
Having a well trained dog is a delight to live with. I truly admire those in the breed who see fit to not only show their dogs to their conformation titles, but also have obedience titles on their dogs as well. Bravo! A pretty face is nice, but one with brains is even better! Oh, the German Shepherd has the brains alright, it’s just that many of them are not being developed and nurtured to their full potential. This breed loves to please their masters. A German Shepherd needs a job to do or they become very restless. They’re no different from a kid. Don’t teach a child anything. Don’t play with him. Don’t let him have exercise and then see how wonderful they are to live with! Anything with any amount of intelligence can never be happy living a dull and unchallenged life!
There are many jobs that the German Shepherd dog does. Everyone is familiar with the war dog stories and the police dog stories. This is a loyal, intelligent, bold and eager to please type of dog. Utilizing these dogs’ abilities is probably one of the most rewarding expererinces an owner can have. Talk about being proud!
When used as war dogs they were used as messengers, rescuers, sentries, and personal guard dogs. Because of their use in the wars, this dog became very popular when our service men came home.
Here are a couple of stories I came up with when researching about this subject. There was a farmer who lived in Canada who became trapped under his tractor when it fell on him. He had his German Shepherd out in the fields with him. Obviously the tractor was too big and heavy for the dog to move it off of the man. The farmer and his dog were about two miles away from his home when this happened. The farmer ripped off a piece of his shirt and tied it onto the dog’s collar. The dog ran home to the farmer’s wife who alerted the police.
The German Shepherd dog is a breed that is used as an assistance dog. They guide the blind, alert the hearing-impaired to noises and alarms, they pull wheelchairs, open cupboard doors, and pick up dropped items. The first guide dog in the United States was a German Shepherd named Buddy. He guided a blind teenager named Frank. The two campaigned tirelessly for better medical care for service dogs for the rest of their lives.
An 8 year old boy by the name of Alex from Kentucky has severe epilepsy. His assistance dog, Lady, presses an alarm device to alert Alex' parents when he is having a seizure. The body releases chemicals a dog can smell. These chemicals change just before a seizure, alerting the dog that a seizure is imminent. In addition to helping Alex, Lady has traveled to Washington, D.C. to encourage lawmakers to provide funding for assistance dogs through the Medicaid program. Lady came from an Ohio-based non-profit organization called 4 Paws for Ability which cost nearly $10,000, raised by Alex' family and friends.
One time an article in the Tampa Tribune (and I quote) related a story about a special dog named Nubs and a U.S. Marine Major Brian Dennis who had recently returned from Iraq. Major Dennis' Border Transition Team found Nubs near the Syrian border; his ears hacked off and left to die after being stabbed with a screwdriver. The Marines carried the dog to their base and nursed him back to health. Soon after, they left for the al-Anbar province. Imagine their surprise when Nubs showed up at their combat outpost after tracking them for 70 miles! After learning it was against military regulations to keep a pet in a war zone, Major Dennis began an e-mail campaign to raise the $3,500 it would cost to ship Nubs back to California. Marine buddies kept Nubs until Major Dennis shipped home from his second tour of duty in March for a happy reunion on the tarmac at Fort Pendleton. An excellent example of man giving back to a loyal companion!
German Shepherds make excellent therapy dogs, visiting nursing homes, hospitals, and childcare centers. They provide affection to the lonely and depressed. The dog seems to be able to sense what is needed and provides companionship to those who feel alone and need it the most.
Due to the breeds’ excellent sense of smell, they make wonderful search and rescue dogs as well as narcotic dogs. That’s why the police department has used these dogs for years recognizing the exceptional intelligence of this breed.
It is important for the German Shepherd owner or someone who is considering owning one of these marvelous dogs to know that this dog has an overwhelming need to work. If you live a sedentary life or leave your dog home much of the time, this might not be the best breed for you. He needs daily exercise and a sense of purpose. If he is not given a purpose in life, you might find yourself with a destructive dog on your hands. One of the top reasons a person puts a dog to sleep is because the dog was destructive. If only they would have put the time into training and working with their dog, the dog would prove to be an important part of their lives. This is not a breed of dog that you buy and ask him to lie around the house and be happy all day. It is not part of this dog’s character. He’s too smart for that. He will grow restless. This is a breed of dog to enjoy and do things with. We miss out the fun that these dogs can be and the joy that they can bring to our lives by locking them up in a kennel and just taking them out when they go to a show. How wonderful that this dog is a dog that can do it all. Look gorgeous and serve a purpose. If we own this breed, it is our responsibility to make sure this dog is not only trained for the show ring, but also to train his mind. He’s not just another pretty face!
My rating: the German Shepherd dog’s intelligence: (4), working ability: (4), untrained GS: (1)