Wednesday, March 31, 2010


I loved the title of this book (that’s why I’m using it for the title of this article) and the faces that stared back at me when I looked at the review about this book. Aren’t the faces of old dogs not the dearest, cutest soul searching faces that you ever did see?! Oh the wisdom that they house in that little brain of theirs you could never learn in any university! It is all about the puppy dog tail chasing antics; it’s about the falling over them as they come to greet you. It’s the water drooling, mushy lip smacking kisses that they plant on you when you lest expect it. It’s the eyes that meet yours from across the room that always seems to follow you. It’s about the tripping over their toys, or sliding across the floor from the puddle that they left just for you. It’s about the bed hogging, pillow stealing, hair shedding reminders that they were with you. They never let you forget about them. They make sure that you don’t!

So a good friend of mine and I were talking the other night. Our conversation turned to the most important dog in her life that she had lost over the winter due to old age and declining health. We had already cried together when she lost him and here we were the two of us sharing another cry all over again. She shared with me his last weeks and days. She explained to him on the ride in the car what was going to take place when the vet came out to the car. It was like she was apologizing to him. She needn’t to have worried. He knew. There was no forgiving that was necessary. His body may have been giving out on him but his devotion and love for his masters were with him until he breathed his last breath.

I’ve already written an article about the care of the senior dog. This is about enjoying your time with the senior that shares your home. He may be somewhat slower in his movements, but his need to be with you is probably even more pronounced now. It’s almost as if he is afraid of losing you when all the time we thought it was about us losing them! His aches and pains may force him to whine and groan more than when he was a youngster, but make no mistake, he’s talking to us and letting us know it’s alright…..he’s still got our back.

The senior dogs love to still remain part of the pack. They love to run and play with the younger dogs even if they can’t always keep up with them. They want them to know that there is still some fun in their old bones yet. It’s not unusual to see the “oldster” hobbling along trying in vain to keep up with his younger house mates. Don’t worry, if he is in pain, he’ll take a rest and let the others get along without him for the moment. When he’s taken a breath or two, he’ll rise up again for the occasion. He knows what he’s capable of doing. When he’s had enough of the juvenile, rowdy, “no consideration for him” younger dogs, he’ll let them know it with a strategic bite administered to the inconsiderate offender. Just because he’s older now doesn’t mean he doesn’t have any life left in those arthritic bones.

Some older dogs will require less food as they age. Others like my friend’s dog that I mentioned above was still stealing food off of the kitchen counters almost up to the end of his life. He was doing it all his life and old age wasn’t going to take all of his pleasure away! Let him continue to do the things that he always has done as long as he can still do it.

Old dogs still like to go for car rides. They still like to go for walks or hike up the side of a hill with you. They still get excited when you go get their leash in anticipation of the time he’s going to go someplace with you. Some people stop doing the things that they have always done with their dog because they feel that he’s too old now. Unless he has a medical condition that stops him from doing things, don’t take away his joy in doing the things that he’s always loved to do with you. He shouldn’t be excluded from having fun because he’s an old boy now. Never push him aside and make him feel like he’s not a part of the family anymore. They want to do everything that they’ve always done, even if they do it a little bit slower now! Old boys like to have fun too! His body might not cooperate, but he’s still a puppy in his heart!

The old dog is the dog that is so in tune to his owners every move. He knows things that you’re going to do before you even do it. He lies comfortably by your feet, ever the devoted companion that he always was. Sometimes it’s too hard for him to climb up on the bed or sofa. He may just attempt to put his front feet up and turn to you to lift the rest of his body up on those places that give him comfort. So although he may be slower, his desire is still the same.

He may rest more now than he did when he was younger. Making the older dog comfortable can be one of the most important things you do for him now. Sometimes he just needs a place to hang his head and get away from the excitement that surrounds him. Providing him with a soft warm bed is very comforting for the senior dog. Talking to your veterinarian about medications to relieve some of his pain is a very good idea. He’ll appreciate you for it. Treat him gently. Treat him kindly. His old bones require that we do.

If he is all of a sudden leaving little puddles on the floor, then get him some doggie diapers. Try to accommodate the senior dog’s disabilities the best way that you can. He shouldn’t be shunned because he’s not his younger self anymore. Locking him away from his family is like locking up his heart! Don’t punish him for being too old. He may have lost part of his dignity because of his advanced age, but he never losses his love and devotion and his need to be with you.

If you are living with a senior dog, you are living with a dog that probably understands your better than any human being could ever do. He’s seen you at your best. He’s seen you at your worst. He’s been with you through the good times and he’s been with you through the worst of times. He’s seen you when you’re healthy. He’s seen you when you’ve been sick. He’s helped you raise the children of your family and even some of the grand kids as well. He’s seen you when you wondered how you would find the money to pay your mortgage. He’s seen you when you’ve lost your temper one too many times. He’s seen you steal another piece of chocolate cake late at night when everyone else is in bed even though you just started your diet that day. You wink at him… know your secret is safe!

This is the dog that is in every fiber of your existence. He’s deep in the crevices of your soul. He has a permanent resting place next to your heart. He is the old dog that grew old right along with you. He may say goodbye first, but like the sentry that he is, he’s never that far away. He’s just gone on up ahead to make sure its safe for you…..he always has your back! He is after all a German Shepherd Dog to the end! I think God teases us by giving the dog to us for such a short period of time as if to entice us to be good in order that we will be reunited with them once again!

Just think, where would you be today without your old dog, your old secret sharing friend, your old companion…..your everything?! After all he helped to teach us to be patient, to be kind, to be disciplined. Don’t we need these traits to live with a dog? Oh yeah, and didn’t he teach us what it is to love unconditionally…….well didn’t he? And all this time you thought you were here to take care of the dog when it was really the dog that was sent to take care of you! Guardian angels come in surprising packages some times!

“Come grow old with me my friend, for the best is yet to be!”

My rating: old dogs: (4)

From the wonderful book: "OLD DOGS ARE THE BEST DOGS"...Anyone who has ever loved an old dog will love Old Dogs. In this collection of profiles and photographs, Weingarten and Williamson document the unique appeal of man's best friend in his or her last, and best, years. This book is a tribute to every dog who has made it to that time of life when the hearing and eyesight begin to go, when the step becomes uncertain, but when other, richer traits ripen and coalesce. It is when a dog attains a special sort of dignity and a charm all his own. If you've known a favorite old dog, you'll find him or her on these pages. Your dog might go by a different name and have a different shape, but you'll recognize him or her by the look in an eye or the contours of a life story. There is the dog who thinks he is a house cat; the herder, the fetcher, the punk and the peacock, the escape artist, the demolition artist, the patrician, the lovable lout, the amiable dope, the laughable clown, the schemer, the singer, the daredevil, the diplomat, the politician, the gourmand, and the thief. Plus, as a special bonus, you will find the first Latvian elkhounds ever photographed. Old Dogs is a glorious gift book and a fitting tribute to that one dog you can't ever forget.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010


How many times have you seen some dogs shown week end after week end and year after year? Now some people may think that this person is wasting their time showing this dog. And maybe he is. But to this person, he’s doing what he loves to do and most of all, he loves his dog. He wants to attain his dog’s championship and he spares no cost in doing it. Are all dogs worthy of their championships? I mean after all, many of them don’t have any disqualifying faults.

What is a disqualifying fault? According to the German Shepherd Dog Club of America, these are the things that can disqualify a dog from the show ring: cropped or hanging ears, dogs with noses not predominantly black, undershot jaw, docked tail, white dogs and any dog that attempts to bite the judge. When you think about it, these things may disqualify a dog from the show ring, but besides the biting of the judge, really how serious are any of these things?

So let’s take a look at the difference between a pet dog and one that has made his championship. Looking at those things that disqualify a dog, it is easy to see why so many dogs attain their championships. So he doesn’t have to be a great mover. He doesn’t have to be “pretty as a picture.” In fact, he really doesn’t have to meet the “standard” set forth by the parent club at all. He can be taller than the 24 – 26 inches at the wither. He can be a long coat. Heck he can even be a blue or a liver. He can have round yellow eyes; have an over shot jaw, be Golden Retriever in temperament. None of these are disqualifications! With that said, will he have a harder time finishing his championship? If he’s shown under a judge that knows the standard, he will!

On the other side of the coin, show him under judges that don’t know the first thing about our breed standard, and you just might find a few of these types of dogs that now have the champion title in front of his name. What I want to know is, how can anyone apply to the AKC to get his license to judge the German Shepherd Dog and they don’t know the first thing about this breed? Now I’m talking about a person that might have owned and finished championship titles on his Welsh Terriers. How can this judge apply and get his license to judge our breed when he knows nothing about them. This is a movement breed and even some of our breed judges could still learn a thing or two about it.

Some people in the breed are of the feeling that because the entries are down at shows, let anyone that wants to show their dogs show them. They believe we need to welcome all the new people to the breed that we can. Then there are those that believe we need to educate these new people BEFORE they step foot in to the ring. Then later on these very same people are now complaining that some of these dogs that are finishing they wouldn’t even give kennel space to. Will our need to “open the doors” to the new people backfire and bring to the ring more mediocre dogs? Is every dog that doesn’t have a disqualifying fault really worthy of his championship title?

Each breed of dog has a standard for which that breed is judged for quality and how much he represents what his breed should look, act and move like. Naturally no dog is ever perfect and these things are taken in to consideration by the judge when you enter your dog under him. It is his job to put up the dog that most closely represents what this breeds standard calls for. When a judge swerves away from what the standard calls for and puts up anything that is shown to him, he does this breed a disservice. He either needs to re-study the standard for the German Shepherd Dog again, or turn in his license to judge this breed. Some believe it serves no purpose to continue to finish mediocre dogs because this is saying to the world that this is what a German Shepherd should look like. A champion should be something special. He should stand out from the rest of the crowd. It should be obvious why this dog is a champion and why Uncle Harry’s is a beloved pet sleeping on the sofa. Oh yes, a champion likes to sleep on a sofa as well, but he should have that something special that indeed, says that he’s special.

So what’s the difference in a dog that’s worthy of his championship and then the dog that has no disqualifying faults? I believe that a dog that’s worthy of his championship doesn’t have to be dragged from one show to the next for the first seven or eight years of his life. Do you know how expensive that dog’s championship is going to be? Oh sure, these owners love their dogs and who are they harming you may ask? They love the sport of showing and they just love their dog so much. In my opinion there are many other ways they can compete with their dog but don’t you think a conformation dog should be as close to the standard as we can get?

I suppose then one can say that there are different conformation champions in this breed, and maybe they’re right. There may be ones that can only be shown in All-Breed shows because the Specialty shows would be too hard for him to compete. Then there may be those that are good enough to show in both rings. Then would we say that only the best of the best is shown at the National Specialty show every year? Could the dog with no disqualifying faults compete and win at this level? Have we seen yet another division in the breed……….All-Breed vs. Specialty winner? We already have American vs. German. Standard Shepherd vs. White Shepherd, etc. Some people feel that the "Specialty People" are too snooty and should relax more. Are we not all on the same page?

Many people say, live and let live. If people are having fun showing their dog, what’s the harm? Let them enjoy it. We want to encourage the new people to the breed, not discourage them. Let them all do what they want. They’re happy so leave them alone. Then one may wonder why there is a breed standard at all.

Showing is supposed to be fun after all, isn’t it?

My rating: No disqualifying faults types of champions: (1), Champions that adhere to the breed standard: (4)

Monday, March 29, 2010


Just as there are many different personality types in people, so there are with dogs as well. When we talk about the German Shepherd Dog it’s not uncommon to hear this breed’s temperament come up in the discussion. You’ll hear of the ideal temperament as being aloof but approachable. You might hear others talk about the wonderful “tail wagging” temperament their dogs have comparing them to the Golden Retriever in personality. This means that their dog is very friendly and outgoing. You’ll hear about the spooks, the fear biters and the down right aggressive, “doesn’t need a reason to bite” type of dog as well. So if people can be mean and miserable, or friendly and easy going, why not the dog? Do we demand or place too much attention on our dog’s temperament? Is it alright for the dog to have an off day where he doesn’t feel like being friendly or approached? Why are we allowed to get away with being cranky once in awhile and not the German Shepherd Dog? Do we know if he’s experiencing a headache or he’s achy in a part of his body that he can’t communicate to us? Why do we expect our dogs to be 100% all the time? I know that I’m not and I don’t know anyone that is no matter how nice of a person they are! With this said, there is a difference between temperament and personality. Temperament I quickly mentioned above. Let’s take a look at the different personality traits some dogs may exhibit.

THE MS. PRISS (OR PRIMA DONNA) – This is the type of dog that is meticulous about herself and her surroundings. I live with one of them……thank God she’s my house dog! She won’t go off the back deck if it’s raining because she doesn’t want to get her precious little feet wet and muddy. I have to encourage her by opening the back door and telling her “Go do potties!” She gingerly goes down the back steps like there’s glass under her feet. When she comes into season, I would barely notice as she is so clean with herself, it’s rare to find a drop of blood on the floor. She is definitely an ideal house dog!

THE SLOB – Yup, unfortunately I own one of these as well. Surprisingly, she’s a daughter to the Prima Donna! She thinks nothing of helping herself to an “after dinner treat” in the form of her own stools. If she’s not eating it, she has a need to leave a trail of it up on the back deck and steps. She drinks water and you would think that she was from a Bull Dog pedigree instead of a German Shepherd. There’s always a trail of water from the bowl in the kitchen to my lap in the living room! When she’s in season, she never cleans up after herself and I’m lucky if she even cleans her own body.

THE GROUCH – This is the dog that is very protective of HIS belongings and doesn’t want anyone else to touch them. He might hide his toys and favorite bones and he expects to find them there when he looks for them again. Heaven forbid if anyone touches anything that he labels as HIS! If one of the other dogs has his favorite toy, he doesn’t think anything of retrieving it from him. He might bark at him, circle him or even nip at him. But he wants his toy back and if he doesn’t get it, he’ll lie in a corner sulking until the other dog “accidentally” looks the other way, and then the Grouch steals his “treasure” back again!

LAZY STUD DOG – Wouldn’t you think when a female comes into season that a young stud dog would be ripping everything apart to get to her? Now this writer believes that some uneducated, inexperienced breeders can make a young dog have problems because the breeder doesn’t know what they’re doing. But that’s another subject for another article. I’m talking about a proven stud dog that even if the bitch is ready to be bred……you caught her on her best days to be bred and the stud dog lies there just looking at her. Your bitch is flagging and is practically jumping on the stud dog. Nope, he doesn’t want her. I remember years ago flying with my champion bitch from New York to California to breed her to a popular stud dog. This bitch had had three litters already. She was very easy to breed. The male laid down in the living room and looked at us as if to say, “Wake me when it’s over.” The stud dog owner coaxed him and “koochie cooed” him……”Come on sweetheart, this lovely bitch came a long way to get puppies from you.” Yawn, Yawn. The dog wasn’t impressed. Anyway………..long story short, he finally did us all a favor, got up, bred my bitch and we had a large litter.

THE HYPER, NERVOUS WRECK – This is the type of dog that doesn’t know how to stay still. They jump, they twist, they turn, they run…..but they never lay down. This is definitely not a fun type of dog to live with. This is the type of dog that needs LOTS of exercise to help get rid of some of that nervous energy. This is a great dog to own if you need to lose some extra pounds. This dog gives you a reason to exercise everyday. Now you have no excuse!

THE ALPHA – This is the type of dog that wants to be in control of everything and everyone. Because the dog is a pack animal, they have a need for a leader. If you own dogs and especially a German Shepherd Dog, you better make sure that you are that pack leader or he will take over. Make no doubt about it, this breed will test you time and time again. If it’s in the nature of a particular dog to be alpha, then he will try to gain that position with you. The alpha dog always presents a challenge.

THE FOLLOWER – Where there is an alpha dog, there is always one that follows. The follower sometimes doesn’t seem to have his own personality. He’s too busy following the other dogs or the alpha. This is a dog that is easily influenced by the more powerful or controlling alpha dog. If the alpha dog jumps up on the counters, the follower jumps up on the counters. If the alpha dog barks at people, so does the follower. He may not know why he’s doing it, but the alpha is doing it. Some dog’s personalities fit in fine being a follower. Then there are others that are looking for the opportunity to de-throne the alpha!

THE BORE – This might be a dog that is dull in personality. He might be very content just lying around all day long on the sofa. Playing ball outside isn’t his favorite thing to do, and in fact, he might not do it all. He needs to be coaxed to move off of his favorite place to lounge. He doesn’t make a good show dog because he has no “get up and go” to him. It’s rare to see a German Shepherd have this kind of personality. If he does, I would have my vet check his thyroid.

THE TOO SMART FOR HIS OWN GOOD TYPE OF DOG – This is the type of dog that is always one step ahead of you. It’s like he can detect what you’re going to do BEFORE you even do it. Many German Shepherds would fall into this category. They can tell by your motions, your movements, your eyes…….they know how to read you to determine what it is you’re planning on doing next. All I have to do is change from my slippers to my sneakers and that’s an indication that I’m getting ready to go outside and my dog is up on her feet pacing and whining as if to remind me that she wants to come too. These types of dogs are very in tune to their owners every move.

THE NOSY, DOESN’T MISS A TRICK TYPE OF DOG – Here again, most German Shepherds are inquisitive and some more so then others. I have a dog that if I received a VERY SMALL package in the mail (and I don’t care where I put it), she will know something new came into the house. She’s not satisfied until she finds it. And you know what, she always does. I may have forgotten about it, and I’ll turn around and there she is smelling the new “intruder” in the house! She must investigate every room because her senses are so keen. If I’ve been somewhere and change out of those clothes that I wore, she must smell those clothes ten different times. The places I wore them must smell so delicious because I’ll find her nose buried in them.

MOAN, GROAN, WHINE & COMPLAIN – This is the type of dog that drives me crazy. Maybe it’s me, but I like a quiet, peaceful home environment. Not when you’re living with one of these types. They’re talking, their complaining, they’re always trying to get your attention. Don’t talk on the telephone too long, or you will have them moaning as they circle the chair you’re sitting on. Two hours or so BEFORE it’s time to feed your dog, she’s reminding you by pacing and whining in case you forgot! Or how about the “charming” dog that screams at the top of her lungs as soon as she hears your feet hit the floor when you get out of bed in the morning. Look at it this way, she’s doing you a favor…….you don’t need to invest in an alarm clock. That’s what she’s there for!

So as you can see, when they say that a German Shepherd Dog is versatile…….they really mean it. You will never be bored with them……unless you own one of the rarities……the boring German Shepherd. Now you may better understand why the German Shepherd is always one of the most popular breeds of dogs. There are so many faces he can wear. There are so many different types of personalities. There’s bound to be one to suit your personality. Aren’t we the lucky ones for they are always educating us, entertaining us and ever challenging us to be more than we are!

My rating: different personalities types: (4)

From the book: FOR THE LOVE OF A DOG: UNDERSTANDING EMOTION IN YOU AND YOUR BEST FRIEND - Animal behaviorist, dog trainer, syndicated radio talk show host and prolific author on all things canine, McConnell (The Other End of the Leash) presents a compelling combination of stories, science and practical advice to show how understanding emotions in both people and dogs can improve owners' relationships with their pets. This is more than a simple dog-training book: much of what McConnell discusses concerns how dog owners can learn "the language" of dog by recognizing important signals and reading them correctly. She provides numerous helpful examples of how owners can observe dog behavior, especially differences in posture and facial expressions, in order to help dogs be better behaved and help dog owners to be better handlers; her discussion of the meaning of a dog's "tongue flicks" is alone worth the price of the book. Her overall goal is to help owners provide their pets with "a sense of calm, peaceful benevolence," and she skewers current dog-training fads that emphasize "dominance" over a dog. "Don't fool yourself: if you yell at your dog for something he did twenty seconds ago, you're not training him; you're merely expressing your own anger."

Friday, March 26, 2010


No, I’m not talking about a match for a cigarette. I’m talking about a match show for German Shepherds. When’s the last time that you went to a match show? Better yet, when’s the last time you even seen a match show offered in your area? I used to love going to match shows. I just don’t see that many of them around anymore.

What is a match show, some of you may be asking? A match show is a “practice” show for puppies and young adults that you want to show at AKC point shows in the future. It’s good training for the youngsters, future handlers, stewards, and future judges. The youngster gets a feel for what it’s like to be shown inside of a ring. The future handler gets practice showing a dog. The steward learns the ring procedure and how to mark a catalog. Then the judge gets practice with ring procedure and examining the show dog.

Many years ago there used to be a wonderful Match Show magazine that announced the upcoming shows in your area. When researching for this article, I didn’t see it on the web. It doesn’t mean its not there, but I forget the official name of the magazine. I used to subscribe to it and have it sent to my house when I was raising puppies. Now there is a great website to check out upcoming match show events. It’s free so I would encourage any of the specialty clubs to check it out and list any of your matches that are coming up. It’s free advertising for your club’s match show events. The website is:

Did you know that there are different types of match shows? You might think that they are all the same, but they are not. Here is the information that you might need to know before you enter a match show.

FUN MATCHES: This is a match that is not approved or sanctioned by the AKC. It’s informal and there are not too many set rules one must follow. You sign up for a class the day of the match and wait for that class to be called into the ring. The procedures are quite lax at a fun match. It is an excellent training experience for the puppy, handler and judge. Puppies younger than six months of age may be shown at a fun match.

MEMBERS ONLY MATCHES: I’ve never seen this kind of match before, but the title pretty much sums it up. This is a matched offered to clubs that are recognized by the American Kennel club and it is for members only.

AKC SANCTIONED MATCHES: According to the AKC: “An AKC match is an informal event at which neither championship points nor credit towards obedience title is awarded. They are events at which dog clubs, judges, stewards, exhibitors, and their dogs gain experience needed for licensed events.” All of the AKC show and obedience rules and regulations apply for these types of matches just like they would for an actual AKC point show. At these type of matches, the dogs that are entered must be at least six months old on the day of the event. When judging at an AKC sanctioned match, the judge must know the standard and the disqualifying faults of the breed. The dog can not be disqualified, but can be excused for the day.

From what I read, it was stressed that an AKC sanctioned match is NOT a fun match, but should be taken more seriously and adherence to the AKC rules for a point show should be strictly enforced at this type of match show. It was emphasized that if you are showing a dog in obedience at an AKC sanctioned match that if excessive corrections are needed for your dog to obey his commands that you should not show him in this type of match. Show him in a fun match instead where the rules are not as strictly enforced.

Having a match show can bring in revenue for the hosting club’s treasury. There is a charge for entering your dog in a match show. Also the club can make money by offering and serving food for the exhibitors.

As I’ve said earlier, I haven’t seen many match shows around lately. I wonder why that is. Maybe it’s because of lack of volunteers to put the show together. The setting up of the ring/rings, setting up the table for refreshments, having a clean up person for the inside of the ring, etc. is hard because of the lack of membership at some clubs. Putting on a match is like putting on a point show……you need the man/woman power!

Planning for a match show is not too much unlike planning for a point show. First of all you got to find a week-end that doesn’t have any point shows close by on the day you want to hold your event. You need to hire the judge, hire the stewards, ask for volunteers to help put the show on and then ADVERTISE it! You should put it on the difference e-mail lists that allow advertising of these events. Put it on Dog Match and talk it up to your friends and fellow exhibitors and breeders. Most breeders are looking for a place to get their puppies and youngsters out before exhibiting them in the point shows.

Remember when you go to a match show, it should be about the training for your young dog. Who cares if you win or lose? It really shouldn’t be about that. It should be getting your dogs trained and liking the show ring. Making this a pleasant experience now can pay off later on when it really counts!

My rating: match shows: (4)

From the book: "THE ABSOLUTE BEGINNERS GUIDE TO SHOWING YOUR DOG".....The Blue-Ribbon source for showing your dog.
Showing your dog can be great fun! You know your dog has what it takes to be a champion, but how do you get started? Inside is everything you need to know about the rewarding world of the dog show circuit.
This easy-to-read guide will help you discover whether the show ring is the right place for you and your dog, learn the basics of training, and develop the skills for successful showing. In the end, both you and your dog will be ready to succeed in the show ring!
"A comprehensive how-to manual that encompasses every level of experience." —Corky Vroom, president, Professional Handlers' Association
"Masterfully written, offering insight and tips for both aspiring and experienced dog show enthusiasts. By far the most complete book on the market." —Susan Bulanda, senior conformation judge, UKC
"Demystifies the sport of dogs without erasing the wondrous mystique of the art, and mentors the novice through the world of dog shows." —Lilian S. Barber, exhibitor, breeder, and AKC judge
"If you've ever wondered about dog shows, shown a dog, or wanted to try it, this book is tailor-made for you." — Darlene Arden, author, The Irrepressible Toy Dog

Thursday, March 25, 2010


Anyone that owns and lives with a German Shepherd Dog knows that they are living with one of the most intelligent breeds of dogs on the planet. There’s not too much that you can ask him to do that he can’t. He is definitely one of the most versatile of the breeds. There are many things that you can teach the German Shepherd Dog. He makes an excellent show dog, obedience prospect, guide for the blind, rescue dog, therapy dog, herding dog and just all around “pretty much do whatever you train him to do” type of dog. Of all these descriptions about this wonderful breed, I’ve never heard anyone say that their German Shepherd is a comedian dog. Oh sure some of them can make you laugh because of some of the funny things that they do. This is an emotional breed and he always reminds you that he is because of his need and desire to be with you.

I own ten blogs although those other nine have garnered some cobwebs since I’ve started writing on this one. One of those blogs is about my dog “Bu”…….the baddest dog on the planet and the biggest pain in the “Arse!” Now I’ve decided to add comedian to her limited resume. I confess……I take responsibility for her…….I bred her! I’m going to re-tell a couple of stories about her to remind you which one I’m talking about and for those of you who never heard of her. I’ll save her newest “laugh out loud, tears streaming down my face” moment for last. If my mother was still alive, she’d say to me, “You’re not going to write about that are you?’’ “Oh yes I am mother because the older I get, the more I’ve learned to laugh at myself. Might as well join in with the crowd!”

“Bu” was born with the words “ALPHA” splashed across her scrawny little chest. She doesn’t know any other way to act. It’s imprinted on her “overly active, too smart for her own good” mind! She might be doing one thing like chewing on her bone, but is ever aware of what one of the other dogs is doing in the other room at all times. Her mouth is on her bone, but her ears and eyes are tuned into wherever it is that one of the other dogs are; especially her sister.  See the little darling in the above picture looking so angelic.  Then take a look at her doing what she does best.......attacking her sister Jess! 

When she gets out of hand, I’ve tried disciplining her and even done the “alpha roll” on her. That’s a joke….for although she can’t move and squirm away from me too easily, she’s just timing it for when I release her. She jumps up and looks at me like if to say, “is that all you got?’ To “Bu” everything is a game.

So I told some of you this story already. I’m repeating it here for those that haven’t read it. So hang in here with me guys until the last part of this story for her funniest moment yet. About two years ago, I looked out my back window and Bu and Jess (her sister) were out on the back porch. Bu was in the dog house and Jess was lying on the deck in the sun. It was a beautiful day, but Bu wasn’t content in letting it remain that way. Everything was too quiet and uneventful for this bad girl! She doesn’t see me watching her out the window. Out walks the little terror with a mouth full of wood shavings from the inside of the dog house. Jess is minding her business and not paying attention to her sister. Bu walks over to Jess with the wood shavings and dumps them on her head. I began to laugh hysterically as Jess looked up at the window with a piece of the shaving attached to her eyelash! Oh how I wish I had a camera!

Another time when I gave my three girls a marrow bone to chew on, Bu decides she’s had enough chewing for the day. She promptly gets up and walks with that defiant little wiggle in her backside and carries her chewed up bone over to where her mother is chewing her bone. Bu takes her foot and puts it on her mothers back as if she wants her to remain there and drops her bone on her captive held body!

Alright, alright already…….now for her funniest moment of all. Two days ago when all three of them were in the house together, I was standing in the kitchen with them. I had on a pair of very old “seen its better days” pants. I had just made up my mind that that day was the last day I was going to wear them as the tie that held them together was broken. Anyway, Bu doesn’t need too much reason for jumping up on me especially if she catches me looking at her. She thinks she has an invitation then. Well without any warning, “BOOM, she jumps up on me just one time and it was perfect timing. Up she jumps, down my pants fall around my ankles!” Yup, yours truly was standing in the middle of the kitchen in my “under-drawers!” Can I tell you, I laughed so hard the tears were rolling down my face? This only excited Bu even more as she started attacking and biting her sister Jess like she normally does when there’s too much excitement. And like usual, I yell at her to leave her sister alone. Well she’s in her most “devilish” mood and starts telling me off by barking at me. I grab my pants up around my waist and holding them in one hand, I chase Bu through the rooms yelling at her telling her she’s a very bad girl. She runs with me in hot pursuit into her bedroom where her crate is. She’s so darn fast, and I’m so darn slow. I go to give her a swift kick in the butt with my bedroom slipper. The slipper goes flying across the room and my pants fall down around my ankles once again! Never a peaceful moment in this house……but lots of laughter!

I decided I know exactly where Bu gets her ways from. It’s her mother Amber. When Amber was younger she too made me laugh out loud because she was so funny, although not anywhere as bad as Bu is. Amber loves to follow me into the bathroom all the time. And when she does, 90% of the time she needs to pick up a toy and bring it in to me and drop it on my lap. Well one day, she does this and I said something to her and she jumped up on me and got her feet caught into my pants and couldn’t her herself untangled while I’m sitting on the “john!” Oh my goodness, another “tear producing” laugh out loud moment.

Sometimes I wonder if it isn’t easier just living with a dumb dog. These Shepherds are just too gosh darn smart................and funny! So some of you people that have kennel dogs……you don’t know what you’re missing! They are without doubt a constant source of entertainment if your blood pressure can take it! I’d love to hear your stories about the comedians that share your house with you!

My rating: smart dogs: (4), smart and bad dog combination: (1)

From the book:   "THE NEW BETTER BEHAVIOR IN DOGS: A GUIDE TO SOLVING ALL YOUR DOG PROBLEMS"........" invaluable tool for solving behavior problems and training...This books belongs in the library of every dog lover." -- Gleanna Doyle, My Dog's Place

Owner’s Guide to Better Behavior in Dogs should be skimmed for sheer Pleasure before delving into for its wisdom -- (Enid Bergstrom, Dog World)

They used to kick ill-behaved dogs…Now intelligent people read Better Behavior in Dogs. Read it. (Roger Caras, ABC News) -- (Roger Caras, ABC News)

Whatever behaviors you find objectionable on the part of your pet, you will find the explanation in this book. -- (Jack Volhard, trainer, author)

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

MAYBE TODAY - (The Forgotten Kennel Dog)

MAYBE TODAY - (The Forgotten Kennel Dog)
Barbara J. Galasso

The sun comes up, the birds are chirping, a soft breeze caresses my face. Another day is announced. I can hear the rattle of pans hit against one another as she comes down the slightly sloping hill. I get a whiff of my breakfast as the air turns in my direction. Me and my kennel mates bark excitingly as she approaches our runs. Maybe today, I’ll get a pat on the head as she drops my pan of food at my feet. But alas, that's not to be, so I gobble my food, and retreat to my corner to take a rest where shade from a small tree shadows my run.

My kennel mates either follow my lead and take a nap or they run the fence telling one another off. Day after day, week after week, year after year, this is my existence. I was born a German Shepherd dog.............wasn't I meant to be herding sheep somewhere, giving direction to the blind, rescuing an accident victim on some mountain top or playing fetch with little Johnny in some field somewhere? Maybe today she'll open the gate and take me for a walk or play ball with me, but instead the only contact I have with her is when she brushes past me to clean my run and to put water in my bucket.

Yesterday I got special treatment though. I was even taken out of my run and brought to the garage. There one of my kennel mates (I don't even know his name) and I were briefly introduced as I heard my owner whisper to her friend, "I hope to get a huge litter out of these two." I'm returned to my run where I wait until night creeps upon me, and once again the crickets keep me company as my eyes begin to shut and I think to myself , "Maybe today" was not to be, so I'll dream of it to come tomorrow.

Time passes and I find myself now surrounded by ten little balls of fur because of that brief encounter in the garage a couple of months ago. Gee, I never had so much contact with anything before, all of these little creatures crawling all over me demanding of my attention. I experience love for a few short weeks. Maybe today, she'll appreciate the good job I've done and invite me into the house for a dog biscuit. I hear they taste so good. But then she comes and puts me on a leash and back to my cemented dwelling I'm returned.

My puppies are now put in their own run and I see strangers come into our yard as one by one my babies are picked up and put into their car. I watch them drive away down the dusty dirt road that leads them further away from me. Maybe today one of these nice strangers will come to take me away too. But it's my baby’s kennel which is now left empty, as I turn to lay once again under the shade of the lonely tree.

Airplanes fly over head, the lawnmower hums as it busily eats up the grass that surrounds the kennel. Flies claim their favorite spot on my ears as the mosquitoes hover overhead fighting for a special morsel to call their own. The gnats are are too small to fight with these guys, so they just find a resting place on my eyes. Maybe today she'll come out to my run and spray me to relieve me of these trouble makers that have targeted my worn out body.

I grow old and weary. My arthritic bones allow me an occasional walk to my water bucket. Time has surely passed by slowly as I wait for her to stroke me, brush me, play with me, take me for a walk, or bring me in the house. Many more babies came into my life after that first encounter all those years ago in the garage. She even kept a couple and now I see they go into the garage instead of me. The pans are rattling again as she makes her way down the hill to the runs. The other dogs are anxiously jumping up and down, youth still on their side. Maybe today is the day she'll pat me on the head just one time but instead of me wagging my tail and greeting her at the gate, I go lay my head against the rusty fence one last time under the shade of that little old tree.


My rating: good breeders: (4), backyard breeders: (1)

From the book: Mutts Shelter Stories: Love, Guaranteed..... Until one has loved an animal, one's soul remains unawakened." --Anatole France "This book is a credit to [Patrick McDonnell's] life's work and passion, and I know you will enjoy it and be moved by it." --Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO, the Humane Society of the United States. Patrick McDonnell's Mutts is up there with Peanuts, Pogo, Krazy Kat, and Calvin and Hobbes--cartoons that are smart and funny, brilliantly drawn, and full of heart." --Matt Groening, The Simpsons creator. To me, Mutts is exactly what a comic strip should be" --Charles Schulz, Peanuts creator. Mutts creator Patrick McDonnell pairs his heartwarming "Shelter Story" strips with real-life, fan-submitted testimonials and photographs to provide an emotionally gratifying look into the lives of the 10 million rescue animals adopted into loving homes each year. In this emotive collection, McDonnell spotlights stories of animal rescue submitted by fans across the nation.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

PLACING YOUR HOPES ON THE BREEDER'S OPINION (Or what you MUST know BEFORE buying a show quality puppy)!

So you’ve been bitten by the bug and decided that you would like to show a German Shepherd Dog in the conformation ring. Where do you start? Obviously you need to buy yourself a good quality animal that can be competitive in the show ring. You pick up the telephone and call the breeder that lives a couple of hours away from you and tell her you’re looking to buy a show quality puppy. She invites you to her home. You’re excited when she shows you her newest litter of champion sired puppies. You like that one over there or even the other one on the other side of the yard, you tell her. The breeder can tell by the way you talk your lack of experience in picking out show puppies. So quite literally, you are trusting the knowledge and honesty of the breeder in helping you pick out a show quality puppy. (See the above picture of what a show quality puppy may look like at 12 weeks of age).

Now in defense of all the breeders out there……a breeder is looking for a top show home for their puppy if they can get it. They normally prefer someone that has experience in showing dogs and knows what it entails to do so. However, the breeder also knows that everyone has to start somewhere and occasionally will take a chance on a “newbie.”

So a reader writes to me privately a couple of days ago about my subject that I wrote about when I wrote on my blog about the fronts of the German Shepherd Dog. He told me that he has bought many dogs throughout the years and none of them had great fronts or were great movers. He told me that he bought two puppies from one of the top breeders in the country whose kennel is known to produce great fronts and great moving dogs. Did he finally get what he was looking for? NOPE! He told me neither one of them can move. Pretty to look at, but they’re not movers. Now why is this?

In my opinion, when one goes to buy a show quality puppy, you better know what you’re looking at. If you don’t know the first thing about the structure and the movement of a German Shepherd Dog, then get yourself educated BEFORE you write out that check and sign your name on the dotted line of a contract.

Realize that no matter how good and successful a breeder is, even she can’t guarantee you that the puppy you buy from her will finish his championship. Anything and everything can happy as that puppy grows up. He might have been very promising as a youngster, but as he matured, he just ended up being another pretty pet. Obviously the smartest thing to do is to buy an older puppy or young adult. However, many times these are not available as many breeders don’t want to have to hold on to too many puppies for longer than they have to. Space and finances may dictate that he sells his puppies early.

Again in my opinion……if you don’t know the proper structure and movement of this breed, then you have no business asking a breeder to sell you a top show prospect. If you have to totally rely on the breeder to pick you out a show puppy than if he doesn’t turn out the way you were hoping, don’t go crying to the breeder. EDUCATE yourself BEFORE you go looking to buy a show dog. You wouldn’t buy a car without investigating the quality of that automobile. Do the leg work needed……study the standard for the breed. Know what it is that you are looking for. Go to as many specialty shows as you can. Watch as many DVD’s of the German Shepherd in motion as you can. Make sure you slow the DVD’s down so you can see the dog moving step by step. Observe his back in motion. Is he dipping behind the withers? Is his back soft and loose? Is he opening up in the shoulder or is he reaching from his elbow? Is he driving in the rear or is he kicking up in the rear? STUDY, STUDY AND STUDY SOME MORE!!

If you want pretty and plush, than don’t buy hard and dry. If you want deep, dark pigment, don’t buy washed out pigmentation. If you want good temperament, don’t buy the shy little guy because he’s so cute and you feel sorry for him. If you want lots of hindquarter, don’t buy a square little boxy pup. If you want a good mover……know what good movement is.

If you buy a puppy from a breeder and take his word on it that this puppy is a good mover, then you better agree with him that he is. And you only agree with him because YOU KNOW what he’s saying is true. You don’t take his word for it that a puppy is a good mover and you know that he isn’t thinking that the breeder knows better. I remember many years ago going to one of the top breeders in the country to look at some puppies that she had. She raved on and on about the quality of her puppies and how she had waiting lists for them. I was just starting out showing dogs at the time. I already had a small bit of success in the conformation ring. I was looking for another puppy to show. Although the woman was hugely successful and a good sales person, I wasn’t easily taken or ignorant to what made a puppy a good one. I didn’t buy any of those puppies and I don’t remember later on seeing them winning in the ring either.

Why didn’t I buy one of those well bred puppies? Because they didn’t have the movement that I was looking for. I’ve been very fortunate to start off in the breed having dogs that had good front assemblies. So although the puppies had plenty of rear, I saw straight shoulders with over driving rears. Know what it is that you are looking for BEFORE you buy it.

The breeder can tell the buyer that they know their own lines and this will come in later and that will go away later, etc. In my own experience, either the puppy can move or he can’t. I’ve never seen a puppy that didn’t have a front, grow up and all of a sudden get one. I know that the hindquarter of the puppy can and does change but I’ve never seen the front do the same thing. The puppy may be clumsy and not using himself all of the time, but watch him, and you will catch him moving the way that you would expect a good moving puppy to do so.

Don’t lay out a gazillion dollars for a show puppy that doesn’t even have his second teeth in yet! If you can afford it, lay out the gazillion dollars for an older one where your chances of buying a youngster that will finish his championship is greater. The time to take chances with a younger puppy is when he is very well bred and he’s very affordable. Both you and the breeder are placing your hopes on this baby turning out at this tender age. Anything else is just an educated guess.

Don’t let your excitement about buying a show quality puppy rule your heart. Go with your head when making an important decision like this. Are you buying the puppy because YOU think it’s a good one or are you buying the puppy because the breeder TELLS you he’s a good one? Yes, in many cases you are buying the expertise of the breeder. Do you buy because YOU KNOW or do you buy because YOU ARE TOLD?

Know the reputation of the breeder BEFORE you buy from him. Because they have finished a million champions, doesn’t mean that they have a good reputation! One thing has nothing to do with the other! Ask around. Inquire about his dealings with people. Does he stand behind his dogs? Is this breeder considered an honest breeder? And please don’t just take one person’s word on it. Get several peoples opinions.

Most breeders are honest breeders. They want their buyers to be happy with their purchase. They will let the buyer know that they can’t guarantee that a puppy will finish his championship. They will let the buyer know that right now the puppy doesn’t display any disqualifying faults. No one can predict the future of a show quality puppy. If you want more of a chance of finishing a dog, buy him or her when they are older if you can find it.

So if you find yourself “stuck” with another promising puppy that didn’t turn out, ask yourself how responsible you were in the purchase of this puppy. Did you know what you were looking at or did you rely wholly on the breeder to help make up your mind for you? The breeder does the best breeding that he can. You buy one of his well bred puppies. You are buying the puppy AS HE IS RIGHT NOW with the HOPES that this puppy will be able to finish his championship in the future. So know that right up front you are paying for HOPES and not the finished product. The breeder can’t guarantee you the finished product because he’s still in the growing stages when you bought him. Know that you choose to take the chance when you buy a HOPEFUL show quality puppy! If you don’t educate yourself BEFORE you buy him, then don’t blame the breeder for your lack of knowledge. The only blame that can be made is when the breeder takes advantage of your lack of knowledge!  In this writer's opinion, you are not ready to buy a show quality puppy until you know what it means for a puppy to be called show quality.  Show quality DOES NOT MEAN that it will finish it's championship. 

Years ago an advertiser used to say......."An educated consumer is our best customer"..........and so it too can apply when purchasing a puppy.  KNOW WHAT YOU'RE BUYING BEFORE YOU BUY IT!  EDUCATE YOURSELF!

My rating:  educated consumer: (4), depending upon the breeder to choose for you: (2)

From the book:  "Breeding a Litter"........Breeding a Litter: The Complete Book of Prenatal and Postnatal Care is the most up-to-date and inclusive guide to breeding, whelping and placing puppies. There is a focus on making the most of the "breeding experience" in order to produce puppies who are physically and emotionally sound and go on to enjoy life and enrich the lives of the humans around them. This book contains the all-important basic knowledge necessary to serve as a foundation for the reality of firsthand experience. A clear and commonsense format shows everyone who is thinking about breeding a litter how to create the best possible environment for dogs, puppies and owners alike. Beyond the basics, author Beth J. Finder Harris gives detailed information on selecting breeding stock, neonatal care, puppy development, social conditioning, and also fully addresses the aspects of breeders' responsibilities, contracts and puppy care instructions.

Monday, March 22, 2010


It looks like a grain. It feels like a grain. And maybe it even smells a little bit like a grain. But it’s not a grain! Wellness Core is a GRAIN FREE dog food! In fact it’s a dog food that’s FREE of many other things as well. Like it’s free of Wheat or Wheat Gluten, Free of Soy, Free of Dairy, Free of Corn, Free of Artificial Colors, and Free of Flavors or Preservatives.

After trying this companies Wellness “Super Mix” dry food a little over a month ago and reporting how much my dogs loved it, I was very anxious to try their top of the line dog food known as Wellness Core. Would I notice any significant difference I wondered? Just what is so special about this food compared to others that line the shelves of the better known dog food stores?

I am fortunate that my dogs are good eaters and pretty much eats whatever is put in front of them. So getting them to eat this new food wasn’t a problem. But like the other Wellness food, they loved this one as well. They licked their bowls clean and wondered if a second helping was coming their way. I liked that there weren’t any strong odors in the bag when I opened it. The dog food itself is a small kibble so it’s easily digested.

So just what’s so special about this premium food? Well besides not adding all of those unnecessary ingredients that I mentioned in my first paragraph, I like a food company that adds probiotics to their food. If you read this blog enough, you know how much that means to me. The German Shepherd Dog can have digestive problems so when a company addresses this by adding probiotics, then I know that they are concerned about the health of our dogs. The one thing that I noticed within a week of feeding this food was the dog’s stools. They were well formed and they were hard. No soft stool at all, so clean up was a breeze. That is always an added bonus for me.

Now lets look a little further about why this Wellness Core grain free dog food is recommended by “The Dog Food Journal.” Could it be because it’s All-Natural With added Vitamins, Minerals and Taurine , or because of it’s higher, not extreme levels of protein, or that it has moderate fat & calories, also it has controlled minerals, lower carbohydrates , preventative health benefits or maybe it’s because it has a delicious taste from higher meat content. I believe that it’s all of these things combined in one dog food.

Wellness CORE is based on the raw feeding philosophy of providing nutrient-rich, high-quality meat to a dog's diet. Each grain-free recipe is packed with meat from deboned turkey and chicken, turkey meal, chicken meal, whitefish meal and chicken liver along with a proprietary blend of fruits, vegetables, oils and botanicals that nurture your dog to the core.

I tried my dogs on the Core original formula and this is the ingredients that it contained. Deboned Turkey, Deboned Chicken, Turkey Meal, Chicken Meal, Potatoes, Dried Ground Potato, Tomato Pomace, Natural Chicken Flavor, Canola Oil, Chicken Liver, Salmon Oil, Flaxseed, Carrots, Sweet Potatoes, Kale, Broccoli, Spinach, Parsley, Apples, Blueberries, Vitamins & Minerals, Chicory Root Extract, Yucca Schidigera Extract, Glucosamine Hydrochloride, Chondroitin Sulfate, Dried Lactobacillus plantarum, Enterococcus faecium, Lactobacillus casei, Lactobacillus acidophilus Fermentation Products, Rosemary Extract.

The crude protein is 34 and the crude fat is 14. I didn’t feel that the higher protein level was too extreme as I’ve seen other companies that go up to 42% crude protein or higher. I felt for a high quality product like this 34% wasn’t excessive especially for show dogs or athletic obedience and working dogs. I feel it would be too high for puppies and even the company’s website recommends feeding this food to dogs that are over a year old.

The Wellness Core brand contains 80% more meat than other dry dog foods made from grains and being that the dog is a carnivore, this makes this dog food that much more appealing. I would venture to guess that the fussy eaters would enjoy this food immensely because of its high meat content.

After trying this companies two top selling brands of dog food, I am confident that the Wellness lines of canine food have the best interest for our dog’s health and well being. My dogs did very well on it and after all, if they are happy, then I am happy. Did I tell you how good their stools were?

Wellness Core is on the pricey side of the spectrum when it comes to dry dog food. However, if you look at the ingredient label again, you are not spending money on a food that is loaded with grains. Your money is being well spent on a high level of meat ingredients. The saying, “You get what you pay for” would be well suited for this excellent line of grain free products!

My rating:  Wellness Core dry dog food quality: (4)

From the book: "Dogs: The Ultimate Care Guide: Good Health, Loving Care, Maximum Longevity"......Reap the knowledge and wisdom from more than 100 veterinarians, groomers, trainers, etc.......Discover:
* Why changing your dog's food bowl might make him healthier (page 236)
* How to stop fleas for good (page 325)
* Premium foods-- are they worth the extra cost? (page 216)
* A complete guide to the top 50 breeds (page 17)
* A toy that's guaranteed to stop barking (page 144)
* Why dogs stick their heads out car windows (page 202)
* How to teach your dog to wave-- and other fun tricks (page 134)

Friday, March 19, 2010


Since I’ve been in the breed going all the way back to the 1970’s, one of the hardest things for a breeder to do is to breed good fronts (or fore assemblies). It is still a topic of discussion when breeders get together. Why is it so hard to breed a good front but yet easy to get a good rear assembly on our breed? They are both part of the skeleton of the German Shepherd Dog, so why is it that one part is easier to obtain then the other?

It is said that if you have good fronts in your bloodlines that you’ve got yourself a gold mine. Many feel that with a bitch that has a good front and comes from generations of good fronts that you can breed her to practically any dog you want and expect that she’ll produce some good fronts in her puppies. Why does it seem that fronts are so elusive and a goal of many breeders?

The German Shepherd Dog Club of America has this to say about the fore quarter of the standard for this breed. (I quote)……”The shoulder blades are long and obliquely angled, laid on flat and not placed forward. The upper arm joins the shoulder blade at about a right angle. Both the upper arm and the shoulder blade are well muscled. The forelegs, viewed from all sides, are straight and the bone oval rather than round. The pasterns are strong and springy and angulated at approximately a 25 degreed angle from the vertical. Dewclaws on the forelegs may be removed, but are normally left on. The feet are short, compact with toes well arched, pads thick and firm, and nails short and dark.” (End quote).

Why is it hard for some people to recognize what a good fore assembly looks like? Once you’ve lived with it in your own dogs, you never forget what it looks like. Watching a dog move (provided he has all the other structural requirements) that has a good shoulder is a breeder’s dream come true. The dog floats and moves effortlessly across the ground. There is no wasted energy, and no lifting from his elbows, just everything is in harmonious unity that makes you believe this dog could gait all day and make it look easy. It truly is “poetry in motion.”

When you have a good eye for what constitutes a good shoulder layback, you can watch just about any breed of dog and recognize his good fore assembly as well. Just watch the Westminster All Breed Dog Show. I may not know much about the different breed standards, but I can pick out a good mover every time because I can recognize their fore assemblies.

Not every dog that wins his championship will do so because he was a great mover with a great fore assembly. They all don’t have to have this quality to win their championship. Many are fine movers and have beautiful breed type.

Naturally the fore assembly is only part of what contributes to a dog moving well. He needs a strong back and a good rear quarter as well. One does not work without the other.

So what does a poor front assembly look like? Well there are a few things that you can look for. Sometimes when the dog is viewed straight on from the front, he may stand east/west. That is, his front legs turn out. He doesn’t stand true under himself with both of his legs going straight down to the ground. When you look at his feet, they turn out. Also his front or chest may be too wide and when he moves, he’s not single tracking. This would mean the dog is coming at you wide in the front. There are others that a judge might say elbows coming at them. That means that when the dog is moving toward the judge, it is evident that his elbows are sticking out when he’s in motion. Viewed from the side, (and this one is where many people get confused), the dog may be lifting at the elbow. This is very evident if you see a picture of a German Shepherd in motion that moves like this. The dog is bending at the elbow which causes the dog to lift high off the ground in the front and it’s very easy to see in a picture.

Another way to study and learn about the proper motion of a dog is to view him on a DVD and put it in slow motion. A German Shepherd Dog should be moving with his feet close to the ground without lifting in the front or kicking up in the rear. They do this by transmitting their motion from their rear drive through a strong back to their fore assembly.

So why then is it harder to get one structure (in this case the front) than it is the rear? Is it because some pedigrees are saturated with lots of hindquarter angulation and we weren’t paying attention to the front assembly? If this is the case, it would mean that for generations we bred for hind quarter without much concern for their fronts. This might be the reason why it’s harder to get and maintain fronts because it’s not in the animal’s pedigrees. I don’t know. I’m just guessing here.

It is the wise breeder that studies his dog’s pedigree and when he looks at potential breeding partners for his dog, that he studies his as well. Certain blood lines are stronger for fronts than are others. Try to find those pedigrees that have generations of good fronts behind them. And yes, owning a breeding bitch with a good front is important just because it is so hard to get.

You might hear some breeders say that it’s easy to get a good rear……you can do that in one generation. It’s the fronts that are hard to get…..and why is that?

From the book:  "THE GERMAN SHEPHERD TODAY".......Presenting the Great, New Third Edition of the Most Respected Book in Print on the German Shepherd in the English Language. From the time Captain Max von Stephanitz undertook the development of the modern German Shepherd just before the turn of the 20th Century to the present, dog enthusiasts have been quick to recognize the versatility, trainability, and desirability of the universally beloved Shepherd and have taken the breed to their collective heart. 

 My rating: Good fronts: (4), "The German Shepherd Today" book: (4)

Thursday, March 18, 2010


Several years ago I wrote this little spoof. I've just re-tweaked it and added a little more to it and changed the ending. I got a chuckle out of writing it. I hope you enjoy it.

Barbara J. Galasso

In the beginning, God created woman and he called her Eve and all was well. Or so he thought…..

One day God came to visit our little Ms. Eve in the Garden of Eden to see how she was doing. “So Eve dear, how do you like your garden which I planted for you with yellow buttercups, orange tulips and beautiful blue irises?” “Oh it’s alright I suppose,” Eve answers unthankfully, but I was hoping for a garden of red roses instead. God replaces her garden with weeds.

The next day the Lord returns to see if Eve is in any better spirits. He asks her how she likes the abundant amount of fresh fruits and vegetables he has bestowed upon her. “Well to tell you the truth, I was so hoping for a surf and turf dinner,” the ungrateful Ms. Eve replies. Poof……all the fresh fruit and vegetables are gone except for a lone apple on a tree with a serpent slithering close by.

Now on the third day, the Lord being of a kind and generous spirit decides to give our little resident in the Garden of Eden one last chance to show her gratefulness. “So Eve, how are we doing today?” his patient voice asks. “I’m lonely. That’s how I’m doing today,” an agitated Eve answers. “All I have are these wooly lambs, and fat piglets, and those scaly fish in that pond over there to keep me company.” “Well what would you like instead to keep you company Eve?” the Lord asks. Eve rests her head on her chin and says, “Hmm, I’ve been giving this some thought. I need someone to listen to me when I tell him my problems. You know someone who won’t judge me. I want him to be smart, but not smarter than me. He must be obedient and trustworthy. He must help me keep these gardens and grass clean. He needs to share the work load around here! The Lord rolls his eyes and wonders if bringing woman in to the world first was a good idea after all. Eve’s eyes light up and she says, “I know what I need. I need a partner to share the Garden of Eden with.” Just then the winds begin to kick up as the tree tops sway to and fro. A storm is brewing on the horizon. There’s a rustling in the bushes. Eve turns around to see what’s making all that noise and out trots a German Shepherd Dog with his tail wagging and his tongue sticking out of his mouth making him look goofy. The Lord sees a look of bewilderment come over Eve’s face. “What is that?” Eve asks totally shocked. As the Lord begins to walk away, he says to her, “Well you wanted a companion who was obedient and trustworthy. You wanted someone to share your work load with. He’ll listen to all your problems and he’ll never judge you. With that, the dog lets out a big bark as if in agreement. Startled, Eve jumps back away from the intruding animal. “Sometimes I don’t send you what you ask for Eve, but instead what you need.” Before she can answer him, he disappears in the clouds.

Confident that Eve has nothing more to complain about, the Lord returns to the Garden of Eden the next day looking forward to hearing positive things. “Well my dear, I trust all is well with you today” he says as he strokes the head of the affectionate dog that comes to greet him. “All is not well,” the grumpy Eve says. That horrible beast herded all the sheep to the next pasture and they never came back. Then he ate all the piglets and afterwards went in to the pond with the smelly fish and now he stinks. He’s left his smelly droppings all over my lovely lawn and lifted his leg on my beautiful fragrant flowers. And he lay down next to me all night long breathing in my face with his hot breath never leaving my side. He is definitely not what I wanted when I asked for a companion.” The Lord decides it is time to teach Eve a lesson. With that, the skies open wide with a loud clap of thunder. Something falls from the sky and lands over on the sandy shore by the pond. Eve runs over to investigate the object laying there. All of a sudden it moves. It turns over and scratching his head, looks up at her and says, “Gee, I didn’t know you were going to be so chubby. Oh well woman, your man’s home and what’s for supper and where are my slippers?” The dog upon seeing the man wags his tail enthusiastically and lets out a loud welcoming bark. Just then the snake who was observing all this from that infamous tree moves out on the branch so Eve can see him. Eve raises an eyebrow and gives the dog a dirty look and turns an evil eye to the man. She says to him with all the sarcasm she can muster, “You’re hungry, are you? How about a nice Shepherd’s pie for supper?” she says, once again looking over at the dog. The dog whimpers and puts his ears back lowering himself on the ground next to the man. Eve stands there with her hands on her hips wondering what she ever did to deserve these two. “Well let me see what I can offer you to eat,” Eve says moving closer to the tree that harbors the sleazy little serpent and “that” apple. Because of the dog’s devotion to Adam, he tries to trip the man as the man eagerly runs to the seductive Ms. Eve who’s dangling the ruby red apple from her dainty little hand. And as they say, the rest is history. And so God truly made the German Shepherd to be man’s best friend because he saw that man couldn’t take care of himself as was evident in the Garden of Eden. Try as he may, through the ages the German Shepherd dog has tried to lead the blind men of this world away from the seductive daughters and granddaughters of Eve. And as for little Ms. Eve, well she knew that God created woman to bring to man trouble so the German Shepherd could fulfill his destiny. After all, she didn’t want to interfere in God’s plans for his creations. Women are thoughtful like that! And God was pleased.


Taken from the book: "James Herriot's Dog Stories: Warm and Wonderful Stories About the Animals Herriot Love's Best".....Readers of Herriot's four classics and viewers of the PBS series will recognize many of these stories, which will still bring a smile or a tear to the eyes of dog lovers. Each of the 50 stories is preceded by a pen-and-ink sketch. Following each story, there are one or two paragraphs of Herriot's philosophy, outlook on life, and reminiscences about the dogs he has known. In these accounts he illustrates the various reactions of the dogs to the vet who treats them, thus providing the psychological side of animal doctoring. Especially interesting and enlightening are the descriptions of treatments given in the '30s as compared to what research has put into the hands of today's vet. A good choice for dog lovers.

My rating: Be careful what you ask for: (4)

Wednesday, March 17, 2010


If you are like me and you’re ready to shoot yourself and get it over with, you may be living with a hyperactive dog! I’ve owned German Shepherd Dogs most of my adult life and of all the dogs that I’ve owned only one time did I ever own a hyperactive one. Most of the time the German Shepherd Dog has steady nerves and given the proper amount of exercise and training, they make wonderful companion dogs. With that said, remember that the German Shepherd is a very emotional dog that requires lots of interaction and attention from his owner. Ignore him and he’ll become even more pushy and demanding until he gets some reaction from you. Good or bad, he’ll take whatever type of attention you give him.

Every once in a while, you will come across one of those dogs that truly can be called a hyperactive dog. Some people and veterinarians as well wonder if these types of dogs have the same condition that some children have called attention deficit disorder with hyperactivity (ADHD). ADHD in the dog is a remote possibility. So far it hasn’t be proven that dogs can have this disorder, but if they need a “poster child” for research into this condition, I own the “perfect” representative that I’ll gladly offer them!  See her angelic face looking back at you in her puppy picture above!

Within seconds……not even minutes, that my dog comes into the house, total chaos erupts and my nerves begin to rattle. It’s like she has a stick of dynamite up her pretty little “tush” and she’s constantly on the move. Up on the counters, up on the stove, up on the table, up on the walls, up on her sister and mother and up on my nerves! I love her dearly, but I fear an early grave is being dug for me because these old bones just “ain’t” what they used to be any more! Nope, I just can’t keep up with my wild child! Caesar Milan, where are you when I need you? She’s is definitely a prime candidate for his television show! It’s like she is putting herself on constant display. She struts, she poses, and she’s all about herself.

So just what does it mean when you have a hyperactive dog? Are they born this way? Are they made this way? Or maybe it’s a combination of the two. And the better question still is how the heck do you live in harmony with these types of wild kids?

An overactive dog is a dog that is in perpetual motion most of the time. They seem to have boundless energy and even age doesn’t seem to slow these guys and dolls down. They’re on “display” constantly. Their need for stimulation is more highly developed than that of the normal dog. Normal everyday life is not as satisfying for these dogs. They are constantly inquisitive and they seem to never miss anything that is going on. Because of their high energy level, this type of dog would do well in agility work to help alleviate some of his boundless energy.

This type of dog requires lots of stimulation and exercise. Put this dog to work, and he’ll be happy and hopefully tired enough to learn to lie down and relax once in awhile. This is not the type of dog that does well in a crate for most of the day while you are away at work. He’ll come out bouncing off the walls more than he already does. I love what this next sentence says about this that I found when doing research for this article. I quote: “These dogs may behave as if they are trying to cram 24 hours of fun into a one- or two-hour window of time, which is close to the truth.” (End quote). Kind of sad isn’t it!

The hyperactive dog is different from the highly reactive dog. The reactive dog is just what the word says……he reacts to every little thing; much more than the average dog would. Everything that’s in his life, he reacts to practically going berserk. If he hears footsteps coming up the walk way, if a car screeches its tires, leaves falling from the trees, you name it; this dog reacts to it in a wild uncontrollable way. Again, maybe this type of dog is not getting enough attention or enough exercise.

Another reason some dogs may “act out” is because they are looking for attention from their owners in any way that they can. Now here’s the psychology behind this which is so very similar to childrens behavior. If you only pay attention to the dog when he’s misbehaving, then that’s what he’s going to do…..misbehave. He’s got your attention. You yell and scream at him when he’s jumping all over the furniture. You yell at him for barking and making a nuisance of himself. In other words, we are encouraging our dog’s bad behavior and reinforcing it by paying attention to him when he’s doing these undesirable things. He’s got our attention now. All eyes are on him and that’s all he’s wanted from you in the first place. Now you have to use reverse psychology on him, by ignoring the bad behavior (go ahead try doing this when he’s ripping your bedspread to shreds) and rewarding the good behavior (does he really know what that is)!

Aggression and pushy attention seeking or bully type of behavior are other behaviors often associated with hyperactivity.

For a veterinarian to even entertain the idea that a dog can have ADHD, he must view the dog on his own. He will watch to see if the dog is in constant motion, jumping, running, turning around and around and reacting to even the mildest environmental distractions. If the vet is worn out by watching this dog, he might diagnosis him with being hyperactive. The true test for this condition is to give the dog a stimulant like Ritalin or Dexedrine under controlled clinical conditions. Here he will have his heart rate, respiratory rate and behavior observed. If the dog truly has ADHD, all of these parameters will be reduced. Newer drugs like Adderall may prove even more effective than Ritalin or Dexedrin.

ADHD is considered a genetic condition. It is rare and can only be diagnosed by a veterinarian or a behaviorist that has experience with this condition. Most of the time, however a dog that is hyperactive needs to have his environment, training and exercise regiment changed. It is more likely that one or a combination of these factors contributes to the hyperactive dog’s misbehavior and not the disease of ADHD.

When doing the research for this article, it was an eye opener for me because I live with a hyperactive dog. I learned that my “misbehaving” girl that is a constant source of torture to her sister and her less than tolerant mother is really looking for more attention from me. I must say that she exhausts me with her “neediness!” I do however; know that she loves to go for walks. She loves to investigate and smell everything. She is truly a happy dog but doesn’t know what to do with all that built up emotion and energy. She needs an outlet for it all and until I help her release it, she will be like that little “energizer bunny” that we used to see advertised on television all those years ago.

So should I be hanging my head in shame and admit I’m like the human character in the book called, “No bad dogs." Am I that “bad” person? Am I the source of my frustrated dogs’ intolerable behavior? Did I create a monster? Just maybe I’ve contributed to it in some way because looking back, she was a sick puppy for a short period in her life where I was overly protective of her and coddled her maybe a little too much. In her little baby mind, this gave her a higher position in the “pecking order” and boy did she ever use it.

So unless your dog has been diagnosed by a veterinarian as having a definite medical condition like ADHD, living with a hyperactive dog can be controlled. Like everything else it takes time and patience which sometimes seems I don’t have enough of. As I said in my third paragraph, “It’s like my girl is on constant display.” I didn’t realize how profound that sentence was until I finished researching this subject. Yup, she’s on display alright because it’s my attention that she’s after. So my dog isn’t really hopeless……………it’s all about me! She’s saying, “Look at me!” I always knew that she was very intelligent and now I truly understand that she is more intelligent than I thought. Once again another example of the dog teaching the human. If we would only listen more, we’d understand just what it is that they are trying to tell us. There truly are no bad dogs!  We don't only need to train our dogs, we need to train ourselves.

From the VHS tape:  "Miracle Methods -- How to correct ANY behavior problem in your dog"....
Change your life and learn: 1. The core issue behind EVERY behavior problem
2. What a dog's #1 emotional need is.
3. The Very Famous List of DON'Ts.
4. The 7 reasons not to use a loud voice.
6. Find out why people call these methods a miracle!
This is a formula of guidelines, discipline, and correction techniques that will almost immediately correct any unwanted behavior in your dog. The basis of this video is learning the "The Process of Subordination." The information will give you the basis behind EVERY behavior problem a dog and owner may suffer from. The most serious problem a dog can have is Aggression, and the only way to ensure that your dog will not bite, is to take them through the Process of Subordination.  Ramona Redmond, renowned Animal Behavior Therapist, soon to appear on Animal Planet, presents her Miracle Methods video. The video is one full hour packed with extremely effective techniques. This video will give you the techniques to correct ANY behavior problem or issue you may be experiencing with your dog; aggression, hyperactivity, door charging, leash pulling, etc. This unique, highly effective, scientific approach developed by Ms. Redmond gives immediate results with even difficult to correct dogs of any age or breed.

My rating: training and exercising your dog: (4), training ourselves: (4)

Tuesday, March 16, 2010


That's me in the picture at the top of this article back in the early 90's, and no that isn't a German Shepherd Dog, but I love all dogs and that little guy belonged to my sister in law. I send this blog out to four different German Shepherd Dog e-mail lists. However, I also belong to other e-mail lists as well. One of those lists is for all breeds of dogs whether it’s for show dogs, breeding dogs or pet dogs. It doesn’t matter, just as long as you love dogs and are looking to share information about them. Many times I’ll read some of those e-mails and it’s about topics or questions I may not see on my German Shepherd Dog lists. This morning someone was writing about a “little lost soul” Pit Bull puppy that once lived in her neighborhood. She was saying that this little puppy was being mistreated by her owners. The puppy was tied up all day without any human companionship. She would break loose from her chains and this woman would come to her rescue. She felt very sorry for the puppy and would care for it until the owners returned. This woman even went so far as to have the puppy micro-chipped with her own contact information in case she got lost.

Well one day this is exactly what happened. The puppy did get lost. She got the call when the puppy was found and brought to a shelter. They checked her for micro-chips and that is how she knew the puppy was there. They said she was to be put to sleep the next day if she wasn’t claimed. She must have told them who the real owners were so they could be contacted. It seems that the owners didn’t have enough money to take the dog back home again. The puppy was put to sleep and the caring neighbor is beating herself up for not going to get the puppy. She said she thinks about this puppy every day.

Another person writes about a min/pin tied up in the back yard in the harsh cold of winter. This is a type of breed that doesn’t have an insulated coat to protect him from the unkind elements of the frigid cold. She says she sees this little dog shriving and crying on a daily basis. She’s called the authorities but everything remains the same for this little guy. She wants to steal him, but knows that is out of the question unless she enjoys sitting locked away in a jail for who knows how long. In these instances, these stories are about other breeds of dogs. But it could be just as well written for a German Shepherd puppy or adult that sits on death roll in some shelter anywhere in the United States.

I’ve told this story a long time ago, but never on my blog so I will tell it again in case it may help even just one dog. I lived in the Atlanta Georgia area back in the early 90’s. I lived in a beautiful residential area where children played and many people owned pets. Across the street from us were neighbors that had two children and a beautiful female Cocker Spaniel puppy. She was maybe about 12 -16 weeks old. Both husband and wife worked all day, while the children went to school all day. I wondered why they got a puppy to begin with if there wasn’t anyone there to take care of her. They used to confine her on the front porch with a “makeshift” type of barrier at the top of the steps to keep her barracked in. Well like any puppy that is left for too long of a time, it’s going to look to try to escape. Time after time, she did just that.

Every time this puppy got off the front porch, she’d find her way over to my house. She was adorable as most Cocker Spaniel puppies are. But man oh man, was she ever fresh!!! She had absolutely no training or discipline which was understandable for being by herself all day. She just loved to use my hand as a teething “toy” until I trained her to let her know that it wasn’t. Wow……was she stubborn! She insisted on chewing on my hand. I insisted that she wasn’t going to use it for that purpose. This became a battle of wills, until she realized that I was so much bigger than her and I meant business. After a long fought “war” I won!

When the children came home from school, we brought the puppy back to them. This went on for awhile. Then one day the father came over in a “huff!’ He told me that I had some nerve taking his puppy into my house. A few more unkind words were exchanged and he and his puppy went back home. His wife came out later and apologized to me for her husband’s rudeness. She also thanked me for watching after their puppy. I gave her a few suggestions and tips about taking care of her little rascal.

Time went by, but nothing changed for the poor little puppy. It would break my heart hearing the puppy cry everyday locked away in her “jail” known as the front porch. How I wanted to go over there and take her off the porch and play with her and give her the attention and love she deserved and craved. My hands were tied as to do this would have meant I was trespassing on my neighbors property. Eventually the day came that we were moving back to New York. While packing up our belongings in the moving van, I could hear the familiar cries of the pathetic little “forgotten about” puppy. Do you know how very tempted I was to go over and scoop her up in my arms and take her back to New York with us? Heaven help me, but I was very close to doing just that, but I knew that I couldn’t. She didn’t belong to me and I would have been committing a crime.

Many times we hear about German Shepherds tied up and left outside in the harsh elements of the winter cold or the summer heat. Many times we hear about a dog that is being starved to death. We see them in the shelters, on the news or the internet. When is stepping in to do something to save an abused dog considered a crime? It is if we trespass while doing it.

I would probably be one of those people that you see on the six o’clock news shown in handcuffs being escorted in to a police car protesting all the way. Abuse, neglect, torture and total disregard for our beloved breed or any animal for that matter is something that I couldn’t turn my back on if I seen it in my own neighborhood.

I realize that I am just one person but there is a lot of other “just one person’s” like me out there. And if all of us people got involved with what is going on in our communities, perhaps maybe we would be responsible for saving one of the neglected “no hope” dogs that lives two houses down from our homes. His pitiful whining, moaning, and desperate barking continues with hopes that it reaches our ears. Someone will stand up and will be the voice for this animal and all animals like him. Oh I can hear some saying, “I don’t want to get involved. It’s none of my business.” Oh but it is our business.

When the parents of children make a conscious decision to abuse and neglect their animals, they have now taught their children how to deal with people, with animals, with laws, and anything else that may come their way. It’s alright to abuse. It’s alright to neglect. If you own it (as animals are considered property), do whatever you want to it. It’s yours. The law is on your side! These are the type of children when grown up with be with our children when they grow up! Scary thought!

Fixing an immoral society, happens one generation at a time. How we protect and treat the meek, the broken, or the hopeless is an indication of the moral backbone of a once great society. Once the moral fiber of a country is lost, the once great empire crumbles and we become one of many like us, rather than one that stands above the rest.

From the book:  "Shelter Dogs"....Photographer Traer Scott’s endearing portraits of dogs living in American shelters are irresistible and heart-rending – and make a passionate appeal to dog lovers everywhere. Some of the dogs subsequently found good homes; others were never adopted. The portraits reveal the strikingly intense emotion, dignity and, sometimes, humour and whimsy that Scott saw in each face despite the dog’s circumstances. By documenting the undeniable expressions of emotion in the dogs encountered in her volunteer work, Scott raises awareness of animal rescue causes, and especially the need for more adoptive homes for abandoned dogs. This book of true portraits of fifty beautiful shelter dogs is a poignant and loving tribute to all dogs.

My rating: reaching out and helping (within the law): (4), turning your back and hoping it goes away: (1)