Friday, May 28, 2010


Barbara J. Galasso

The janitor sweeps up the floor of candy wrappers carelessly left behind. He walks up to the next roll of seats, picking up half empty cans of soda pop, an arm band is picked up, number 89 it reads and without giving much more thought to it, he throws it in the trash can. A half eaten hot dog lies neatly on a chair's arm rest like its owner might come back to claim the rest of it. An open catalog lies haphazardly on a chair with the numbers one, two, three and four circled next to strange unknown names. Moving among the seats, he notices a spray bottle on the cement floor. He picks it up and opens the cap. He thinks to himself that it smells very much like a hair conditioner. What would someone be doing with a hair condition in a sports arena he wonders? “What’s this, he mumbles to himself. Oh boy, it looks like someone left their eye glasses behind.” He picks them up and puts it in his pocket to turn it into the lost and found. It's been a long day, cleaning and polishing and making things look new again. He's tired as he reaches to turn the light switch off.

The stadium is dark as he climbs the steps that will lead him out the arena door. As he reaches for the handle, he hears a slight noise and turns to look in its direction. He hears it again and recognizes it as the echoes of people clapping and cheering, and screaming and laughing. He turns the switch back on once again and the arena is flooded with light as he takes a seat at the top of the arena and listens as the thunderous applause surrounds the stadium as it did just a few short days ago.

"Excuse me sir", someone says to him as they try to squeeze past him with popcorn and soda in their hands. A little bit of the soda falls on the janitor’s shoes and he tells the kid to watch where he’s going. “Well it’s not like I did it on purpose” the kid wise mouths him. “Kids today have no respect” he says to himself. "Over here Tony," he hears another kid say. I've found an empty seat. Excuse me mister” the kid says as he tries to squeeze himself past the old man. The janitor looks around the huge arena, and wonders why these kids can’t find another seat besides the ones next to him!

Dogs are lying in the aisles. He knows he recognizes this breed, but can't quite figure out what they call them. "Oh, yeah, they're those police dogs," he says to himself. He looks down at the middle of the arena floor and sees hundreds of police dogs in the center of the ring. He wonders what they’re all doing here. He sees dogs running around the stadium with people running after them on long leashes. He sees some lady in the middle of the ring open the dog’s mouth and is looking at its teeth. "She's a lot braver than me," he thinks to himself. "And why is she touching his private parts?" he wonders. "She's lucky he doesn't take those teeth and sink it into her leg," he chuckles to himself.

"Pardon me sir," a teenage boy says to him. "I think you're in my seat." “Go sit over there he tells him in a menacing voice. This is my seat. Got it?” This kid doesn’t answer him back and quickly takes a seat several rolls away. "Hey did somebody borrow my catalog? I want it back, someone cries out in protest. "Where the heck did I put my glasses?" a little old lady mumbles to herself as she sits down in front of the janitor as she starts to rummage through her pocketbook.

He hears the woman a few seats away from him saying to her friend, “Did you ever see such a horrible looking bitch? She has no front, her rear end is all over the place and she’s missing a couple of teeth on top of it! Her friend responds by saying, “You should see what she produces like. Her babies are just as ugly as she is!” “Wow, the janitor thinks to himself. In my time, women didn’t use such language and it was one thing talking about someone, but quite another to be talking about someone’s kids!” He decides to take another seat further down the roll away from these offending women.

He turns his attention back to the ring. The dogs are all lined up in a roll over against the wall now and standing just as proud as can be. "Wow, I like that one in the front," the janitor says to himself. I've never seen such pretty looking police dogs before." He hears someone whisper to another that they like the second dog better than the first dog and questions why the dog in 15th place is not moved up to the front of the line?

Just then the dogs start to run around the ring again, one faster than the other. He hears whistles, and bells, and chains that rattle. He sees people running around calling out names like Royce, and Lillie and running into one another. He wonders where they're all running to in such a hurry. He looks around uncomfortably to make sure there isn't a fire that’s started somewhere. He thinks maybe he should get up and investigate, but is having too much fun watching all the pretty police dogs.

Then the lady in the middle of the ring points to the dog in first place and everyone stands up on their feet to a thunderous ovation. He wonders if he should be doing the same thing only he doesn't know what he'd be clapping for. He sees bulbs flashing as a photographer takes pictures, hands congratulating one another and others walking away cursing and tearing off their arm bands. A huge trophy is brought out to the center of the ring and the dog he likes is standing next to it. He's so beautiful, that he wants to go down there and pet him.

Just then he feels a hand on his shoulder and he say's to himself, "If someone asks me to move one more time, I might not be so accommodating as I was before!” "Come on Harry, for Pete's sake," he hears a familiar voice call out his name. "If Mr. Drake sees you napping again, you're going to be fired," he hears the voice say to him. He looks up and it's his co/worker John standing above him. "I'm not napping John," he tells him. "I'm watching the police dogs. Sit down and watch them with me," he tells him. "What police dogs? John snaps. There's nobody here but you and me, you old fool. Now if you don't mind, I'd like to lock up the doors and get home tonight."

Harry looks back at the arena, and the dogs are gone. He hears the applause dying down until there is nothing left but silence. He follows John to the door, scratching his head wondering if it was really just a dream after all. Maybe John is right. Maybe he is nothing but an old fool. But it all seemed so real.

He turns one more time to look at the arena and sees the beautiful dog with the trophy standing there looking up at him and wagging his tail, but decides not to say anything more to John about it. He all ready thinks his lost his mind. When they get out to the parking lot, he yawns as the night air hits his face. He waves good bye to John as he walks over to his car. He reaches in his pocket to get his keys out and feels the cold metal of an object. He wraps his fingers around it and pulls out the eye glasses of the little old lady.

From the book: "CHICKEN SOUP FOR THE DOG LOVER'S SOUL: STORIES OF CANINE COMPANIONSHIP, COMEDY AND COURAGE".....For thousands of years, dogs have been cherished as devoted companions and exuberant playmates—their unconditional love, limitless affection and unwavering loyalty never fail to melt our hearts. The stories in Chicken Soup for the Dog Lover’s Soul truly capture the special joy these four-legged creatures bring to our lives and hearts. From exciting and entertaining accounts of courage and humor to heartwarming tales of healing and learning, each touching story in this book will inspire dog lovers to rejoice in the unique bond they share with their canine companions.

My rating: dog stories: (4)


Thursday, May 27, 2010


Now a days there are so many ways to “reach out and touch” someone that you may never have to leave the comforts of your home to do it! I mean I can look at all your pretty little faces if you and I have a connection to “Skype.” This is a place where you and the person you’re communicating with can see one another on the screen of your computer. If you got a puppy you want to sell, you can put him on your lap and if nothing else the other person can see his darling little face.

I have accounts with many of these social networks. Some of them I barely use. One of the most popular is “Twitter.” I personally do not understand the excitement about this network. This is where you write a few sentences to people telling them what you are doing today. It’s seems to be immensely popular with the entertainment community. They leave messages on there all the time. I did a small search to see if I could locate any German Shepherd Dog folk. I didn’t find any that I knew personally, but I did find some German Shepherd rescues groups. Twitter is probably a good source to advertise your business.

Then there is Facebook, probably the most popular of all the social networks. More and more German Shepherd Dog people are discovering this huge gathering of enthusiasts of the breed. Unlike Twitter, on Facebook you can put your picture there and your litters and stud dogs, your show win pictures, your family pictures, your kennel, German Shepherd rescues, your business, etc. Also you can put videos on this web-site. It truly is a great way to meet other people in our community. Half of the people that are on my Facebook account, I don’t even know, but this is a good way of getting to know them.

Now with both Twitter and Facebook, to belong to someone’s network and communicate with them, they have to approve you. The only thing that I don’t like about Facebook is that once you approve someone, anyone that is in that persons network of people gets to see your posts. You may not like all the people that that person has in their network of friends. However, that person can’t communicate with you unless you let them in your network. But they can still see what you post to other people, but they can’t answer that post. If you want to remove someone from your network of friends, you can do that as well.

I was told about it a couple of months ago and I don’t know how true it is, but the buzz has been going around that come July 10th. Facebook is going to charge you to have an account on their website. So just this morning, I signed up for the group on Facebook that is against this happening. Their goal I believe is to get 500,000 signatures. I believe they have over 200,000 right now. I won’t pay to belong to this website. There’s just too many other ways I can connect with people and don’t have to pay to do so. What about you devoted Facebook fans, will you pay to stay on this website?

I also belong to a huge group called “Gather.” This is probably where I get most of my e-mails from. If you don’t like receiving lots of e-mail, don’t join this group! This is a place to connect with people from all over the world and you sign up for each group that you are interested in. They have all sorts of categories to choose from. Also belonging to this group, you accumulate points that when you reach a certain number you can cash in for gift certificates from stores like Amazon. So if I’m going to “chat away,” I might as well get paid to do it! Don’t expect to become an overnight millionaire as it takes a long time to “gather” up those points!

Probably my very favorite website of all is “You Tube.” You can find just about anything on here from people showing their puppies and adult dogs movement shots to how to train your dog to “sit or stay.” There are entertaining videos, tutorials, educational videos, you name it. If it can be videotaped, you’ll probably find it here. I’ve seen lots of German Shepherd videos on this website. I just love it!

There are also many groups that are more specialized in their concept. I belong to a couple of those as well, but you know what I use them so rarely that I’ve even forgotten some of those that I’ve joined! One of the more informative sites is “E-How” which advertises…..”How to do just about anything.” It truly is an excellent website for learning about different things that you didn’t know how to do. Those that are good writers can write about the German Shepherd Dog pertaining to any subject you want. I belong to a couple of writer’s websites where I’ve written articles about our breed, but if you read this blog then you’ve already read them here.

And what about “Craig’s list?” I admit I don’t do too much surfing on this list. It’s got about a trillion people that hit this list a day……..well maybe that’s an exaggeration, but you know what I mean. You can list just about anything on here for sale or that you are giving away. There have been German Shepherds listed on here as well. Some people use this network to meet other people with similar interests. For instance, I know someone that used this media to meet some other people that had an interest in “jamming” (playing musical instruments) in maybe putting together a band. I’m a little nervous about this list as there have all ready been some serious criminal allegations brought up against some people that use this list. That’s why I like my other groups that I’ve already mentioned. I “meet” them through writing to them. I never have to take the next step of meeting them in person unless I want to.

Another large group of people is on 'My Space." I’ve never used this format. I think it’s geared more to the younger group of people and I’m sorry to say as of my last birthday, I just don’t seem to fit in to that category any longer. You can listen to people’s music on here as well as connect with friends and look for classmates. Speaking of classmates, there’s a social connection for that group as well. Nope, I don’t belong to that one either.

Then there are the e-mail lists that one can belong to when you are looking to communicate your interests. There a hundreds of e-mail lists on Yahoo that you can connect with. There are many different German Shepherd Dog lists on there as well. Just find one that suits your needs. Not all of these lists talk about the same things. Check out what their list was started for and see if you want to join in the chatter. There are other e-mail lists that are not on Yahoo also so look around and ask around. You’re sure to find the one best suited for your interests.

I have to admit, I enjoy connecting with many different people that have the same interests as I do, but I also find it ever fascinating to connect with those that can teach me many things that I never knew about before “meeting” them. On the flip side of the coin, there are also those that I’m glad that I’ll never meet, because “Wow oh wow” it’s truly a jungle out there and if you’re not careful, you’ll get eaten alive! I’ve communicated with some of those people that the “men in white coats” are still looking for!

Belonging to all of these social networks can be very time consuming, so it’s only advisable to join those that you think you’ll enjoy and have some time to communicate with others. There is no reason for anyone in the German Shepherd Dog community to be uninformed, uneducated about the breed, or lonely because of lack of friendship with others in the breed. As I said in the beginning of this article……just reach out and touch someone. Pretty soon, you’ll be a little social butterfly too!

I JUST LOVE THIS NECKLACE....TAKE A LOOK...."A TRUE FRIEND REACHES FOR YOUR HAND BUT TOUCHES YOUR HEART!" Description: This shiny sterling silver looped ribbon heart pendant is inscribed with a heartwarming message that celebrates friendship. The open heart is threaded on an 18-inch sterling silver box chain. It makes a great gift for someone you cherish.

My rating: social networks: (3 – 4), e-mail lists: (4)

Wednesday, May 26, 2010


Because this is a German Shepherd Dog blog, I’m asking that question in relationship to the breed. Hopefully, you’re all ready a good up standing citizen, a good parent, a good partner, and all that other good stuff. I want to know when you leave this earth will people remember you for what good you did while being involved in this breed? Have you accomplished all that you wanted to do?

Because of the versatility and intelligence of this fabulous breed, we are not limited in what we can do with them. Not everyone is in this breed for the same reason and that’s a good thing in itself.

Maybe you bred a gazillion champions. Maybe you had the top working dogs in the breed. Maybe you were responsible for rescuing over a hundred dogs. Perhaps your dog is known to the community for all the hours upon hours that he does therapy work. Perhaps your dogs lead the blind, or help make the police departments work a little bit easier. Maybe you’re responsible for training hundreds of people’s dogs so they can go on and live a productive life. You could be the one whose hand rises every time your club is looking for a volunteer to do a job. Maybe you’ve been hired by more clubs than most for the beautiful show photography that you produce and your pictures grace many people’s walls. Perhaps you’re proud of all the shows that you judged and the many champions that you helped give their title to. Then maybe you never did any of these things, but you’re most proud of the dogs that you’ve given a good home to and devoted your time and love to raising happy animals. Maybe your dogs brought joy to many people’s childhoods. Maybe it’s your kindness and willingness to lend a helping hand that people will remember you for. Maybe it was your smile or your shoulder to lean on when someone lost their beloved dog.

Looking back over your life, will you be remembered and if you are remembered, will it be for the good that you’ve done? No one wants to be remembered for being nasty or unkind. No one wants to be forgotten. Will people talk about you for years to come because you are missed for all your wonderful contributions to this breed and to your fellow members of the German Shepherd Dog community? Were you liked? Did people admire you? Did you leave a good impression on most people? Did you touch people in a positive way? What will your legacy be?

There are people in this breed that are long gone now, but the German Shepherd community still speaks of them with fondness. They left lasting impressions on people’s hearts. Some of them still make us laugh today when we think of them.

I remember all those that treated me kindly. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, I was very fortunate when I first started out in this breed. I reached out to people that I admired and thought I could learn from. The reason that I was fortunate is because none of them turned me away. They were more than willing to help and lend a guiding hand. Many of them are no longer with us, but it’s because of their contributions to the breed and those involved in the breed, that their memory keeps them alive in all that they touched.

It’s not only about the “big shots” of the breed but it’s about the little guy that sets up the show ring so the big shots can show their dogs. It’s about the stewards that help make the judge’s job easier. It’s about the club’s newsletter editor that gives his members hours of reading enjoyment. It’s about the treasurer of the club trying to figure out if they have enough money to buy the trophies for the shows. It’s about the big shots, the little shots and all the others that make this dog community what it is. No one is more important than the other. One can not do without the other.

So what do you want to be remembered for? Will you be remembered? Did you matter?

From the book: "RANDOM ACTS OF KINDNESS"......Named a USA Today Best Bet for Educators, this is a book that encourages grace through the smallest gestures. The inspiration for the kindness movement, Random Acts of Kindness is an antidote for a weary world. Its true stories, thoughtful quotations, and suggestions for generosity inspire readers to live more compassionately in this beautiful new edition.

My rating: contributions to the German Shepherd Dog community: (4)

Tuesday, May 25, 2010


I got the idea for this article from a friend that told me how much she pays for a handler to board and train her dog. She asked me if I could write something about this subject. Seems the handler has had the dog since the National and charges $400 a month for boarding and training. Now I’ve got to ask right up front……just how much training does a dog need month to month to get ready for the show ring? Just to fill you in, this dog had a high placement in a huge class at the National and has been shown just a few times since then. His owner has had Select and Futurity winning dogs so she’s very familiar with owning show dogs. She’s probably one of the best double handlers that I know. Just how much training is enough training? I told her by the time this animal finishes his championship you will have spent a great deal of money to attain it. She’s frustrated. Take the dog back home I told her! Come on now, the dog has already shown that he is competitive in the show ring by doing so well at the National! What is he being trained for? Give me a break!

Years ago, this was unheard of. How many people sent their dogs to handlers to be trained for several months? We all know that the German Shepherd is a very easily trained dog. Unless you are elderly, disabled or pressed for time is this really necessary? Of course it isn’t. No dog needs months of training to get him ready for the show ring. This is a lot of nonsense. Unless the handler is keeping the dog at his place and showing him every week end or so, what does he need your dog there for? Someone is eating steak for dinner…….and it’s not my friend!

How much money are you willing to put out to have your dog finish his championship? Are you willing to pay your handler to show your dog week after week? And for that matter, can you afford it? How many reserves are enough? Is there a limit to how long you’ll continue to show your dog? Do you have an unlimited, bottomless bank account to do so?

Some people are willing to do what ever it takes to own a champion dog. They truly love the sport of showing and they are having fun no matter what. They will do whatever it is that they need to do to finish their dog. Then there are others who don’t care about having any fun (Oh yes, I’ve had people tell me this already), they come to a dog show to win. Nothing else…….end of story!

I know of someone that has been showing their dog almost every week-end. I think the dog needs another major to finish. The dog is over seven years old. Is it a good dog? In his owner’s eyes he is. His owner wants the dog finished and is determined to make sure that he does. His handler doesn’t mind. He’s getting paid. The owner is happy. The handler is happy. The dog…….well he’s got a pleasant personality so he’s just a happy dog anyway. By the time this dog finishes his title, he will be a very expensive champion. It makes me wonder, who was the most expensive dog to finish his championship title and how long did it take him to do it? I wonder how old he was. Does anyone know?

Is there a limit on how long it should take a dog to finish their championship? Are you of the belief that you just keep on plugging along until he does attain it? Some will argue that they are doing it for the fun of it. How much fun is it to lose the majority of the time, I wonder? One would think that they are no longer doing it for the experience. But hey, if these people are truly having fun, then it is their business. Then there are some who believe and have said, “We don’t need anymore mediocre champions in the breed!” Yup, I just read that the other day on one of the e-mail lists that I belong to.

Under normal circumstances, showing dogs is an expensive hobby. We’re talking about handling fees, traveling fees for the handler, his meals, his lodging, and tolls on the highways. Add to that any bonus you may throw his way if he wins the points or goes Best of Breed. Then you have to pay your own expenses to travel as well. Then there’s the entry fee for the dog, the expense of grooming equipment and supplies, leashes, collars, and any special supplements you may add to your dogs already expensive food. So owning and showing show dogs is a luxury, and in this day and age, a luxury that many can’t afford.

How expensive is it to show your dog at the National Specialty show? If you go with a popular handler, it will cost you quite a bit. Remember that these professional handlers have their choice of which dogs that they want to show. Most of the time they will choose the dog that they think they will have the best chance of winning with. Also most of these handlers have a loyalty to their long standing clients and those clients will normally have first choice of these handlers. It can run you thousands of dollars to show at the National level. And don’t forget the bonus’s that these handlers are accustomed to receiving if they do big winning with your dog. This is the biggest show on earth in the German Shepherd Dog community. Also many people show at the Canadian Nationals as well.

Then take a look at the Futurity/Maturity shows. Some people consider these shows nothing more than glorified match shows. Try telling that to the big winners at these shows. There are no points awarded to winning at these shows. Years ago this was considered a breeders show so one could see what blood lines were producing the qualities that they may be looking for in their own breeding stock. Now days, many exhibitors consider them just as important as any other show because they know if they win the big awards here that it is their ticket into the futurity/maturity finals at the National Specialty show. This is where their dog will have a chance to compete for Futurity Victor/Victrix and Maturity Victor/Victrix. So once again, showing at these types of shows will cost the owners of these dogs more than a pretty penny.

So how deep is your pocket? Do you work around a budget that you save just for showing your dogs? I have a friend that works a part time job just to support her show dog hobby. Yup, she takes the money that she makes from working to show her dogs. Do you eat hamburger helper every month to ensure that you have enough money to show your dog? Is it foolish to be so “dog obsessed?” For most people, they don’t care. They are doing something that they love!

I never sent my dogs to a handler for training. Looking back on it now, most handlers weren’t set up to take other peoples dogs for training. It seems like times have changed and more and more people are sending their dogs away to a handler. I believe in the saying: “Never say never” because you don’t know what you may do that you normally wouldn’t have in the past. That said, how I feel about it is, even if I could afford to do it, I wouldn’t. I don’t feel like a dog needs to go away with a handler under most circumstances. However, if the dog is one that the owner wants to show all over the country looking to win Best in Show awards, then I can see where they’re coming from. It’s almost impossible for most people to take off of work to travel all over the country to show their dogs so sending them to handlers makes sense.

As much as most of these beautiful dogs do lots of winning all over the country, there’s another side as well that some people don’t like to talk about. Because I’ve never sent my dog away, I’m only relating here what I’ve been told by some people that have. What about those dogs that gets sick, or worse dies when they’re away? What about those dogs that get loose and either are never found again or are killed by a car? What about those dogs that bloats and dies? No handler wants to make the call to an owner with this type of bad news.

A friend of mine that is a German Shepherd Dog judge told me one time she sent her dog away to a very well known trainer. She told me when she got her dog back that his temperament was never the same again. Yes, this is the negative side of this discussion and most of the time these things don’t happen, but try telling that to those people’s dogs that did have this happen.

As some of us get older, our desire to show our dogs may still be there, but sometimes we are just not physically capable of doing what’s necessary to get them trained for the ring. This is when I can see a trainer or handler can be very useful. But does he need to be away for several months? Not in my opinion, he doesn’t! I’ll keep the “jingle ling a ling” lining my own pockets!

Just because sending a dog away isn't right for me, doesn't mean it isn't for other people. Many of those people have the trophies, blue ribbons and champions to prove that it is. Everyone's circumstances are different. For some people getting a phone call from their handler telling them that their dog just won the points is a wonderful thing. I on the other hand like to be there watching my dog do the winning. Whatever works for you and your dog!

I’ve worked with the best handlers in this breed at one time or another. I admire the hard work and dedication that they put into their craft. I always brought my dog to the show ring, ready to be competitive and shown to perfection by his handler. As positively that I feel towards handlers and the tremendous contribution that they have made to the sport of showing dogs, I still want to enjoy my dogs and want them home with me. They’re my companions first and a show dog second. If I can’t get them ready for the show ring myself, then maybe it’s time for me to check into a nursing home. And if it’s any indication about how “wonderful” I was in training my own wild child “Bu” for her futurity, I just might be checking in there sooner than I planned!

From the book: "BEST IN SHOW"......"...this book is an absolute "must have" unqualified triumph." -- - Dog World (UK) "A bible for all dog show enthusiasts...a treasure that nobody in the dog show world can be without, at least not if they want to maintain their credibility." -- - HUNDSPORT (Sweden)
"A must-read to help you enjoy and understand the world of dog shows even more." -- - David Frei, co-host, The Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show on USA Network
"We put this workhorse to the test at the GAZETTE and it became indispensable in about 15 minutes. We can give the book no higher praise than that." -- - AKC Gazette, February 2008 "a treasure trove...the be-all and end-all book about dog shows." -- - The Ringleader (Australia)

My rating: handlers: (4), sending dogs away to be trained: (2-4)

Monday, May 24, 2010


Maybe when you were growing up you always had a dog. Or maybe you were one of those kids that wished you had a dog. Whatever your circumstances were growing up you probably now own a dog or many dogs.

For most of us when we got our first German Shepherd, we just loved the breed and wanted to own one of them. He was going to be our friend, our watch dog and our buddy. He was going to be there for us when we got home from work. We could take him for rides in the car with us. We’d play ball with him in the park or even take him for a run on the beach. We’d go hiking with him and he’d even come with us when we went camping. I mean after all, isn’t this what people do with their canine companions?

So when did your interest grow from just owning a German Shepherd to wanting to train or show him? How did you discover there was such a thing as dog shows?

Do you remember your very first dog show? Did you go just to watch and observe or did you participate with a dog of your own? What were the people like back then? Were they friendly and welcoming? Was your first dog show a good experience?

My very first dog show was the most prestigious dog show in America. We went to Westminster at Madison Square Garden in New York City. Oh no, we weren’t showing. We just went to watch, to learn and to be educated. Didn’t we think we were something though? We already owned our first German Shepherd that we bought in a pet store. I mean isn’t that where everybody buys a dog? What’s a breeder? I never heard of them before. I just thought you bought a dog at a pet store or you went to the Humane Society and got yourself one. But we wanted a pure bred dog with papers so we bought our girl at the pet store.

It didn’t take us long to have our bubble burst about what a good German Shepherd looked like. We thought we had something special with our long coated black and silver girl. But we were soon to find out that “The only place you’d find a dog like that is in a pet store.” Yup that’s what a very known breeder told us who we met at that prestigious show in New York City all those years ago. Well we really weren’t heartbroken. We loved our dog and didn’t have any intention of letting her go. We continued taking her to obedience classes and we bought a show quality puppy from that very well known breeder that we met at Madison Square Garden. Long story short, he was a fear biter. So we placed the well bred dog and kept our black and silver long coated girl that we bought from the pet store. Her temperament was wonderful and we figured show dog or no show dog, she was a dog that we could be proud of.

Was I upset that this breeder sold me an inferior dog because he knew that we were novices and what the heck did we know anyway? Oh yes I was upset then because I had to place this youngster and even though his temperament was far from ideal, I still loved him and cried when he left. He went to someone that wanted his property guarded.

Looking back on it now, I realize it was a good thing because it taught me what a good dog is and one that isn’t. It taught me the difference between good and bad temperament. This dog’s conformation was not that of a show quality dog either. I know that now, but I didn’t then. I really thank this breeder now for opening the door for me. Because he sold me a bad quality dog didn’t turn me off to the breed. I knew there was something better out there for me and I wasn’t going to stop until I got it.

Our next show dog was indeed a true show dog. But alas he was from bloodlines at that time that was known to have produced the dreaded bloat. We lost our beloved show boy to this horrific disease at 2 ½ years of age. He went to doggie Heaven with seven points and a major to his credit. Somehow, I don’t think the Heaven’s was impressed.

We bred very few litters a year.....most of the time one to two litters was enough. Like all breeders, we bred some good ones and some mediocre ones. And like most breeders we had some show dog quality puppies but mostly pet quality puppies. We dealt with those people that came knocking on our doors looking for a pet for their little Johnny. We may have tossed and turned wondering if we should have let a certain puppy go before we realized his true potential. We cleaned up and we scooped up. We watered and we fed. We groomed and we trained. We won and we lost. We took home a trophy and blue ribbon one day, and another day we went home empty handed. And we never really learned how to say good bye even though popular belief would have us believing it gets easier with time. NOT!

So where did it all start for you? Was your experience a good one or a bad one? Did you have any mentors helping you or did you learn on your own? I was EXTREMELY fortunate that I had some wonderful people, many of them pillars of the breed guiding me in those early years. Many of them are no longer with us, but what they taught me and showed me remains with me to this day. All of these people in one way or another helped shape my future in this breed. I listened, I learned and I watched. I took what they taught me and formulated my own opinions about things. I am forever thankful to them for their guidance.

So this is how it all began for me. What about you? Would you do it all over again? Would you have done things differently? Would you have been just as contented owning a pet German Shepherd as you are owning a show dog?

My rating: Owning a pet or show dog: (4), Learning from mentors: (4), educating yourself about the breed: (4)

Friday, May 21, 2010


I got this idea to write about this product from someone who wrote about it on “The GSD Showcase" e-mail list that I own. I thought it sounded like a great product so I wanted to share it with my readers. Any time I think something sounds interesting and might be of interest to my readers, I like to share it with you.

Anybody know what a “Thundershirt is? Neither did I until one of my members wrote about it. Seems she was having difficulty (or should I say her dog was) with the often very scary “thunderstorm” and all the ruckus and hoopla surrounding it. Like many dogs, he would freak out because of the loud frightening noises that these storms generate. You know that most of the time dogs can detect a storm coming before we may even know about it. My house dog gets restless and paces a bit. When the thunder angrily slaps the sky with its ferocious ear splitting intrusion, she starts barking which in turn gives an invitation to her daughters to do the same thing. So that leaves “yours truly” not only being “serenaded” by mother nature, but three very loud and vocal German Shepherds! The next thing they hear is my big mouth, yelling out, “Alright, enough already!”

No one cowers or hides under the bed or gets to the point of having high anxiety. They’re just not overly fond of it. However, some dogs are very traumatized by it. They may pace, shake, bark, whimper, hide, jump on the door or whatever is by them at the time, etc. They are having a true anxiety attack. Some people have resorted to giving them a pill to calm them down.

So anyway there looks like there may be a better, more soothing way to help the anxiety ridden animal. Here’s the letter that my member sent to my list. I’m posting it here with her permission. Thanks Deb!!

Hi everyone,
Not everyone knows that my GSD Bull has terrible storm phobia. Well he does. Sad and scary since I live at the end of tornado alley in Mo USA. I have tried everything, Ace, (fights it upsets his tummy), DAP Collars and diffusers they help but we spend about $600.00 a yr. on them. Bull paces, pants, paws at us. 2 weeks ago I thought he was going to explode his heart or Tourq. Well a golden friend of mine told me about the Thundershirt for her golden and how it helped Gus. So I bought one for Bull it was only $36.00. Well let me tell you they work...Last night a storm came thru. Bull pawed at me (I was asleep). I saw and heard the lighting, put his thundershirt on, and he went into the tub (lays there during storms) and went to sleep. No pacing, no pawing for me to help him. I just hope it works this well during a really bad storm, but I am thinking it will cuz any storm to Bull is a bad storm. Just wanted share in case any one has a storm phobic dog. You all know how stressful it is on us and our poor terrified fur babies
PS big thank you to Bob and Shiela

I had to laugh when I first received Deb’s letter. After reading it, I said to myself: “What the heck is a Thundershirt?” I never heard of it. So I went on the web and investigated myself. This is what I found out about this product. This product is great for the dog that has a fear of thunder or fireworks, separation anxiety, travel anxiety, crate training, problem barking, reactivity, leash pulling, etc.

The Tundershirt has a patent-pending design. Its gentle constant pressure has a dramatic calming effect for most dogs if they are anxious, fearful or over-excited. The company says that based on surveys completed by over 1,000 users, over 85% of dogs show significant improvement in anxiety symptoms when using the Thundershirt.

Why does this work? Experts such as Dr. Temple Grandin believe that gentle pressure works to calm the dog because it has a calming effect on the nervous system. Using pressure to relieve anxiety has been a common practice for years. Thousands of veterinarians and dog trainers now recommend Thundershirts for their anxiety cases.

The Thundershirt can be used to other things as well. It is also a very useful tool for managing excitability or hyperactivity with strangers, on the leash, or in a training environment. The Thundershirt’s calming effect helps a dog to focus or refocus her energies in a more constructive direction, allowing training to be more effective.

The Thundershirt looks like a vest that you put on your dog. You secure the dog in the vest with Velcro straps. It comes in different sizes, so make sure you get the one that is made for your dog.

Now the Thundershirt may not be right for every dog. Some dogs may be too frightened having anything new and unfamiliar wrapped around it's body. That's why it's important to introduce him to this product before a thunderstorm comes. Get him familiar with it. Some dogs just might be too sensitive to wearing it.

Geez, just think if this works so well for the dog, I wonder how well it would work for the human that suffers anxiety attacks? Just think of the business it would take away from the manufacturers of those little yellow pills!

I have known those that have put a dog to sleep because it had issues with noise and storms. I wonder why it’s alright for a human to have nervous condition or anxiety attack and it’s not alright for the dog? Now there may be a way to help these animals cope better with their fears. Who knows what they go through? Perhaps their hearing is more acute than the average dog and it really hurts their ears! Who are we to judge? We just don’t know what physical and emotional trauma the animal is experiencing.

My rating: Thundershirt based on the reviews: ( 3 - 4)

Thursday, May 20, 2010


                                                                                        Armani vom Finkenweg SchH1 KkL1a Life

I’ve already written about the many different colors that the German Shepherd Dog’s coat can be in another article on this blog. When the general public thinks of the German Shepherd Dog, most of the time they will think of him as a black and tan dog. This is the standard color that is normally associated with this breed. Some people won’t own any other color like a black or a sable. I’ve never been color blind to other colors besides the black and tan dog. A good dog is a good dog no matter what color he is. Do I prefer certain colors over another color? Yes, I prefer the black and red or black and orange colored dogs or the red sables. These are just my preference but I don’t HAVE to have it!

So I’m talking to my friend the other day that just imported another German bred dog that she just shown for his first time in the United States. I was congratulating her on her dog winning his first major points towards his championship title. Now I haven’t seen the dog yet although I have been invited to her house many times to come make friends with her new boy. With my own schedule, I haven’t found the time to do it yet. So I’ve just looked at his pictures and marveled at his handsome masculine head and bone and that black and RED pigment!!!

So I ask my friend. “Hey, you know what I’ve been thinking, how come I never see the German dogs in any other color besides black and red or black and orange?” I really had to stop and think about that for a moment after I asked it. It’s true. I never see any sables. I never see any blacks, bi-colors, saddles, or lighter black and tan dogs. “Why is that”, I wondered. My friend said that the German breeders only breed for the rich black and red pigments that we always see on their dogs. She said something about them breeding the other colors out of their breeding program years ago.

So that is my question that I’m putting to my readers. Is this true, did the German breeders stop breeding the other colors of the breed that we still see here in the United States? And if this is true, how come? Did they not find the other colors of the German Shepherd Dog as appealing?

I have never owned a black and red dog, but have owned a black and orange dog. Not only did he have beautiful rich dark pigment, but he had a plush coat as well. In my opinion the combination is stunning.

And speaking of plush coats, that’s the next part of my question. How come MOST German bred dogs along with their beautiful pigment have gorgeous thick, plush coats? I know not all of them are plush coated, but the ones that I’ve seen advertised, most of the time are. When I think of these very dark pigmented dogs, even the American bred ones that I love; many times they are plush coated. Although I can think of a dog that went Select at one of our more recent Nationals that wasn’t plush coated but has extraordinarily beautiful rich black and red pigment. Years and years ago, the winner’s dog at the National had this beautiful black and red pigment but he wasn’t plush coated either.

How important do you think dark pigment is when you breed? How are improving the coat length? Do you breed to improve pigment and coat? Of course temperament, structure and movement as well as the health of the pedigree is more important than pigment and coat length when choosing a breeding partner for your animal.

One thing that I’ve noticed with the German bred dogs is they have consistency in breed type. They all look the same. The American bred dog is not as consistent in breed type because they have so many different color combinations. Certainly this discussion is not about German vs. American lines and which one is better. They both have their redeeming values and I’ve never owned anything but American bred dogs. I’m just commenting about the color of the coats and length of coats.

To illustrate three different colors of the German Shepherd Dog, take a look at "Armani" at the top of this article. He’s a black and red dog. Then take a look at three of my dogs that I owned on the top of my blog. "Nuance" was a black and tan dog. "Rajah" was a blanket colored dog. Because you can’t see his whole body, you might think that he’s a bi-color. He was not. He had a lot of black on most of his body, but he didn’t have the stripe going down his toes like the bi-colors do and his legs were mostly tan in color. "Xanadu" which was the mother of both of these dogs was also a blanket bitch. However, her face wasn’t predominately black like her son "Rajah’s" was.

In my opinion there is nothing more gratifying than looking at a beautiful looking dog lying by your side or walking down the street with you. Some of them can take your breath away because of their stunning beauty. Someone had a picture of an American bred male that she owns (maybe I saw it on Face Book – I can’t remember now), but he was dark and plush and drop dead gorgeous and I wouldn’t mind owning him.

So although the German Shepherd Dog is considered by many a movement breed to do the work that he was bred for, there is not substitute for beautiful breed type. And yes that’s me saying that and my friends all know that I’m a movement nut, but that subjects for another article.

Speaking of color and coat length, I don’t think that I’ve ever seen a plush coated bi-color. I’m sure they must be out there, but most of the time I’ve seen closer coated bi-colors. I’d be curious to see pictures of them if anyone has one.

I would like to know, which kennels in America has deep dark pigment…….either black and red or black and orange dogs or red sables? If they have plush coats, that is even better. Which bloodlines are producing these qualities?

So although as a breeder, you should never just be breeding for one thing, improving on breed type is never a bad thing if you have structure and movement in your lines already.

I thank Dan and Marilyn Smith of Darby-Dan Shepherds for allowing me to use a picture of their dog "Armani" for the sake of this article.

My rating: a good dog is a good dog no matter what color: (4)

Wednesday, May 19, 2010


I wrote this a few years ago and it was published in the AKC Gazette. I've tweaked it a little bit. It was written for one of my all time favorite "heart" dog's "Nuance" pictured with her half brother "Rajah" at the top of this blog. She was truly a German Shepherd in every sense of the word and no matter how many years go by, I still miss her!

Barbara J. Galasso

The moonlight shone through the parted curtains in my bedroom window the other night as my eyes slowly shut and my body surrendered and gave itself up to sleep. Oh it was a simple dream at best. Nothing special about it, so I thought at first. My dream was about an old house; one that was unfamiliar to me. But I've had dreams of this kind before. There are strange places, strange people, and strange surroundings. The only thing that I recognized was you and how you once shared my life and now instead tiptoed through my dreams. I welcomed your presence in these strange surroundings. For it was you, my beloved dog who came to keep me company. You were in the old house with me, but because you were there, everything was familiar again. You followed me from room to room like you used to do so many years before. Everything about you was the same; all your actions, all your emotions, all your affection, and all your devotion to me. My love for you flooded over me and I thought I'd drown from it because I couldn't reach out and touch you. You played with me. You teased me. You were beyond my reach. My heart felt you right down to my soul, but I could not reach out and touch you even though I desperately tried. How unfair!

Your heart was only loaned to me; on borrowed time I'm told. Has it really been so many years that you are gone, when you are so alive in my dreams? In my dreams, it's like you never left me at all. Everything about you is real again. You walk with me and beckon me to follow you. Happiness floods my dreams when you pay me a visit, but when I awaken, my heart cries out for you and my arms long to hold you again. The pleasure of your company has once again eluded me and in my waking hours, I find myself eagerly longing for your next visit.

If I can't have you while I'm awake, than may my dreams keep me in slumber a little longer each morning I pray, for I know when I awaken you will be gone, not knowing when you'll return again. A few hours of you in my dreams is all God shares with me until he decides to send you to me once again. But alas, you don't come to me every night, and I selfishly find I want more of you each time you leave. Haunt me if you must then. Just stay a little longer with me before you leave. In my dreams, you are alive again as if fate has played a cruel trick on me. Or is it just my imagination that makes you so real and you are once again with me like you never left at all? I twist and turn stubbornly fighting from waking up for I know that you will be taken from me when I do. "Don't leave", my brain seems to plead in its dream like state, but you fade into the background and become a shadow as reality sets in, and I'm left with the after glow of knowing it was only a dream. I wipe the star dust from my eyes and realize you only visited my dreams for a few stolen moments. “Not long enough," I cry, ........never long enough with you"

Not all my dogs come to pay me a visit in my dreams like you do, you know. Although they all were loved, few were special and those are the ones who come back to remind me why they were designated as such. Gone maybe in body, but in my soul the memories I carry once again brings them back to life leaving their paw prints upon my fragile heart.

So until we meet again my friend, I will have to be content with the little windows of light that is bestowed upon me that reflects your image until I too reach the place that is called dreams. "Only a dog some may say?", but then they've never known the unselfish love between a man and his dog for nothing is expected from us, and everything is given from them. So come if you must and play with my emotions for a little while longer for the piece of my soul that you took when you left, is restored and renewed when once again in dreams I walk with you.

From the book: "SAYING GOODBYE TO YOUR ANGEL ANIMALS: FINDING COMFORT AFTER LOSING YOUR PET: In this thoughtful book, Allen and Linda Anderson walk you through the numbing pain and dreadful sense of loss that arise when a beloved animal dies. They offer solace to help you deal with grief, remember and honor key moments in the animal’s life, find comfort through groups and with professionals, and get past the depression. They also include exercises, affirmations, and meditations to use through the various stages of grief. The Andersons’ caring, practical advice covers all aspects of pet loss, offering guidance on: helping children grieve :: honoring your religious beliefs :: grieving for runaway pets :: helping others know what to say or do to console you :: planning an appropriate memorial ceremony or tribute. The book also explores the concept of after-death experiences of departed companion animals and relates many beautiful stories, including the Rainbow Bridge story, that reinforce the love and sense of peace that come from honoring the place animals hold in our lives.

My rating: heart dogs: (4)

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

THE RED BOOK (A publication of the German Shepherd Dog Club of America)

Of all the books and literature that is available to the student of the breed, in my opinion, none is as informative and valuable to have than “THE RED BOOK.” The reason that I say that is because it’s about everything pertaining to the German Shepherd Dog. Here’s how The German Shepherd Dog Club of America describes it on their website:

THE RED BOOK - Year in Review
The Red Book has something for everyone. The latest in health, veterinary news, genetics, breeding and nutrition. The Thirteen Club. Our Juniors Program. Complete list of Award of Excellence winners, including pictures of the AOE recipients. Certificate of Health Merit Excellent recipients. Complete tabulations for the Futurity/Maturity shows, including pictures with write-ups for the top twenty producing sires and dams. Complete tabulations of sires and dams of progeny winning AKC major point shows during the competitive year, including pictures and write-ups of the top twenty producing sires and dams. Complete Register of Merit tabulations, including pictures and write-ups of the top twenty living ROM sires and dams. Complete tabulations of the top producing performance sires and dams. Dual award winners for the year. Information and pictures for GSDs in obedience, herding, agility and the GSDCA-WDA.

I wonder where they got the name Red Book from for this publication. Yes, it’s red, (see the picture) but I wonder why they chose that name. I’m sure someone will write to me to tell me why. The cover isn’t very eye appealing and you won’t buy it because it grabs your attention. It looks more like an encyclopedia or medical journal. But wait, open this magazine and be awed by pages after pages of pictures of some of the top producing and winning German Shepherds in the country. If the book at first doesn’t grab you with its cover, it’ll keep you entertained and informed for hours and hours of enjoyable reading. Be prepared to get an education.

The wonderful thing about this book is that you will find yourself referring back to it time and time again. It is truly a great reference book about genetics, health problems, bloodlines, etc. Many a time in the past, I turned to this book looking for bloodlines to breed a bitch of mine to. It’s great because not only do you get to see a picture of the sire of a potential future breeding, but pictures of what he’s produced as well.

There is not just one author of this book, but many authors. The health and genetics articles are written by different people that have some expertise in these fields. The sections with the pictures of the stud dogs and bitches are written by their owners. Here is where you can get a picture of what the dog is truly like and what he produces. They may suggest the type of bitch that goes well with their stud dog and they may tell us some of the faults of their lines.

Being invited to write about your dog because he/she has made their ROM (register of merit) is a dream come true in my opinion. I say this because this book is a history of our breed and many people collect these books for their dog library. I have had my dogs in these books in the past and writing about my ROM bitch…….well lets just say I was extremely proud and honored that she and her progeny would be included in these educational volumes.

The articles about health and genetics are very well written and they may not apply to any of the dogs that you have now, but in the future you may find yourself picking up one of these books to look something up.

My deepest gratitude goes to the people that give selfishly of themselves year after year to the excellence of the quality of this “must read” treasury of the history of our breed. These are volunteers that devote their time to the development and production of one of the best publications of our breed so that we and future generations will know the German Shepherd’s story.

So come meet the breeders, meet the stud dogs and bitches. Look at the winning show pictures. Read about the genetics and health of the breed. Get educated. Get informed. Get in the know. If you buy nothing else this year to read about our breed, buy this! You’ll be glad that you did! You can order “The Red Book” on the parent club website at:

My rating: The Red Book: (4)

Monday, May 17, 2010


I didn’t plan on writing about an article on this subject this morning. Actually, I started writing another article yesterday on a totally different subject. I rarely if ever write on my blog over the week-end, but it was something light and once again showed my “off the wall” kind of sense of humor. So here it is Monday morning and instead of writing something light and amusing, I find myself writing about something dark and not amusing at all.

I was clearing the Sunday newspapers off of my kitchen table and realized that I hadn’t read the magazine section of the paper called “Parade.” So I quickly skimmed the pages as I didn’t plan to read anything but a small article on one of the pages caught my eye. The title read “A New Plan to Stop animal Abuse.” Under a black and white picture of a couple of dogs behind a fence, the words in bold type read: “Convicted pet abusers would be listed online.”

So I read the short but informative article and then went on their website to see if I could find out anything more about this subject. Basically they had the same article on their website as they did in the paper. However, there was a place to vote (which I did) about your opinion if you thought this was a good idea or not. What I liked reading most of all was the letters that some people wrote about voicing their opinion on this subject.

This is what the article had to say. They wanted to know if the public should know if a convicted animal abuser lives or works next door. It seems that there’s a bill before the California legislature that would require adults convicted of felon animal abuse to register with local law enforcement. Their names would be placed in a database similar to the national sex offender’s registry. Other states that are considering animal-abuse registries are New York, Tennessee, and Louisiana.

It’s a known fact that animal abusers are five times more likely to commit violent crimes against humans. I didn’t know that they are also four times more likely to commit property crimes than those without a history of violence against animals.

Who would the registry include? It would include people that have been convicted of maiming, mutilating, torturing, or killing animals as well as pet hoarders and operators of animal fight rings.

Starting and maintaining a website for this registry isn’t cheap. The website “” run by volunteers has a database about pet abuse. It costs about $10,000 per year to operate. It now tracks nearly 16,000 accused or convicted animal abusers.

Here is what some readers thought about this idea. Most people didn’t see any difference in abuse to children as abuse to animals. Just a couple of people said the two shouldn’t be compared. The majority felt that the animal suffers just as much pain as the child, so why should these cases be treated any differently? Right or wrong, abuse is abuse no matter who it’s directed at. In my opinion, the animal should not have to be expected to suffer any more pain than we should be able to endure. To read the full article and letters pertaining to it, check it out at:

If it’s a known fact that these monsters that are misfits to society have started their “careers of abuse” by abusing animals, then they need to be stopped before it goes any further. They have scratched and crawled their way to our children’s school yards, the local parks and even sneaks through someone’s bedroom window. This is why in my opinion that the law abiding citizens of a community need to get their law makers attention to this growing epidemic that preys on the innocent starting with the animals. If they can stop it at this level, perhaps they can prevent further abuse in the future. We need to get these predators at the beginning of their “careers” (at the animal level) before it escalates to the abuse of people.

If we had a registry of animal abusers it could help the police department in the future. If they are looking for a criminal that has abused a child or an adult, they could also check the files of the animal abusers as many times as we know this is where it all starts.

If you have ever checked the registry for sex offenders on line, you would be shocked to know who lives down the street from you, and in some cases right next door. And speaking of this subject, I just got an e-mail message from CNN news. This is what it said: “Supreme Court rules federal government can keep some sex offenders locked up after they serve their sentences.” I say take the key, lock them up, and then throw away the key and keep them locked up. In my opinion, you can’t rehabilitate these types of people. They come back out and do the same thing all over again.

Perhaps you might know someone that abuses their animals. He could be even a family member or relative. Most of the time no one turns them in. They couldn’t think of doing this to a loved one, however what they are doing to the animals is disturbing. They choose to look the other way or they don’t want to get involved. It is never easy when the person doing the abuse is someone that you know and love. There are other reasons these people don’t get turned in. Many times it’s because people are afraid of them. The animals that they are abusing can’t speak up. Only we can.

I believe if we don’t do everything that we can to stop animal abuse; the crime rate in this country will continue to rise. If the authorities keep treating animals abuse with a “slap on the wrist” and continue to let these offenders get away with murder than they have no one to blame but themselves. We already live in an angry” out of control” society. Need any further evidence of this? Listen to some of the popular music our children are listening to. Watch some of the television violence laden shows. Go to the movies where the seats are sold out because people need their adrenaline rush through the violence portrayed on the screen. Know than when you see animals being tortured, you are looking at the further of a society numbed by violence and abuse. When this becomes the “norm” and when those who revolt against it are considered the minority, then the shift of good and evil has taken place while we slept. Let’s hope we wake up from this “zombie like sleep” and proclaim that enough is enough……and indeed, we’re not going to take it anymore!

Pay attention to animal abuse. It’s not going to go away anytime soon. It must be stopped. If you love animals whether you’re a pet owner, a show dog breeder, or just a good citizen of your community, get involved. Animal abuse affects us all. If we turn our backs to it, then we’re turning our backs to the further crime in this country. If we don’t want to be abused, robbed, raped or murdered, go after the animal abusers now before it escalates to this level. Make the abusers punishments to animals be just as serious as those done to man. Animal abusers are people abusers!

From the book: "SILENT VICTIMS: RECOGNIZING AND STOPPING ABUSE OF THE FAMILY PET".....this is what one person said after reading this book....."Phenomenal job on this book! Very well written with excellent scenarios and realism. It truly brought out the reality and severity of the link between domestic abuse and animal abuse, with close attentiveness to victims who cannot defend themselves against these crimes. As you read it, you tear a bit, with the reality so vivid. A very well-done book. I recommend it to all Animal Control Officers like myself, law enforcement officers, domestic violence advocates. It really opens your eyes. Thank you Tom Flannigan for sharing so much of your knowledge and experience with us!"

My rating: Stricter punishment for animal abusers: (4)

Friday, May 14, 2010


Hopefully dealing with the German Shepherd community, you never have to find yourself ending up in court with them. However, before they were German Shepherd people, they were just people like any other people. There are good people and then there are bad people and most people fall in the middle of the two. Owning a German Shepherd doesn’t change any of that.

We live in a “sue happy” culture today. It seems if you look at someone the wrong way, you’re going to get slapped with a law suit. I think most people try to live a good honest life and do their best to be fair with people. I don’t think that too many people go out of their way to “put the knife” to somebody. However, there are those few…..

The best way to protect yourself is to make sure that you have a contract for ANY negotiations that you have with someone else. Make sure everything is spelled out in easy to understand language. Now is the time to ask questions BEFORE signing on the dotted line. If you don’t understand something in the sales contract, then say you don’t understand it. Rather be thought the fool now than be the real fool later.

Sometimes a sales contract is only as good as the people that are signing it. I have heard of stories of some people in the breed that are not living up to their sales contract. And please, whatever you do, don’t take someone’s word for anything! I don’t care who they are, or how long they’ve been in the breed or whatever other positive “adjectives” they use to explain themselves. Even if you’ve known them all your life………..get EVERYTHING in writing! Many a friendships have been lost due to a small “misunderstanding!”

A sales contract can cover puppy sales, stud dog breeding, bitch leasing, hire for work, designing websites, purchasing a used van or motor home, etc. Know ahead of time what it is that you are contracting to buy. Watch out for words that sound nice in a sales contract for a puppy for instance. Do you know the difference between a “show quality” puppy, and “show potential” puppy? Can anyone truly guarantee how the puppy will grow up and turn out? Be careful if they say that they can! It doesn’t matter how well “they know their bloodlines.” The puppy that you may be buying from them may have other “plans” according to his own DNA!

If a breeder is a signer of the breeders code and he’s not living up to that code, then a complaint can be made against him to the Parent Club (The German Shepherd Dog Club of America).

And what about the pet buyer? What do you guarantee to him? If you guarantee good hips and elbows, it needs to be stated in the contract. Do you guarantee the puppy will have good health? Did you give the new owner a window of time to get the puppy checked by a vet? Will you take the puppy back throughout his life time?

And what about the stud dog contract? Don’t think you need one? The two dogs “do their thing” and now everyone sits back and waits to see what these two “superstars” are going to produce. The bitch whelps two puppies……one alive and the other dead. The bitch owner demands another breeding (free of charge). Did the stud dog owner guarantee a certain amount of live puppies or did he just say two puppies….period? Perhaps, and most likely this wasn’t even discussed ahead of time. Does the stud dog owner expect payment at the time of the service? Perhaps he takes half of the stud fee now and the other half when the litter is born. Maybe he’d like a puppy from this well bred litter. The stud dog owner definitely needs to have a contract stating what his responsibility to the bitch owner is and what he expects. The bitch owner needs to discuss what she expects as well. Again, “my word is good enough” is not good enough!

If you hire someone to design and set up a website for your kennel or other business, do you get a contract from the designer or do you verbally discuss what you want and then let him start working on it for you? What happens if you don’t like it? Will the web designer continue to maintain the site for you? Will they do upgrades for you? How much is all of this going to cost? It’s it one set price or does the upgrades cost you more? You need to know all of this BEFORE you hire the designer. He needs to know what it is you expect and you need to know that you are getting the best value for your dollar.

If a person is doing business on the internet by designing websites or selling merchandise and is not giving you what you paid for and not looking to make it right by you, then you can contact The Internet Crime Complaint Center at:

If you are purchasing someone’s used vehicle to drive back and forth to the dog shows, are you making out a sales contract with the seller? Can you take the vehicle to your mechanic ahead of time before your purchase the automobile or do you take the word of the seller that everything is in tip top condition? If you don’t have a sales contract then you have no one to blame but yourself if the “clunker” drops dead in the middle of the highway on your way to that five point major show!

I read about and talk to people that have told me their “nightmare” stories when dealing with certain people. They have come to these people in good faith with money in their pockets. Now that money is in someone else’s pocket and the buyer is not a satisfied customer. After many failed attempts to rectify the situation, some buyers are left without any other recourse but to take the offending seller to court! This is normally the last resort the buyer has. No one enjoys doing this. It isn’t any fun. However, the buyer came to the seller with good intentions and the seller didn’t live up to their part of the bargain.

Besides all the hard feelings involved in messes like this, not to mention the financial loss, the seller is now “black listed” among their peers. Word carries far in the dog world. If you are not standing behind your puppies, studs, bitches, work, merchandise, etc. you just might find that not too many willing hands are knocking at your door anymore. Treat people with respect and honesty and you’ll get repeat customers time and time again. After all your reputation is on the line. It’s not just the quality of your animals, work or merchandise that you’re selling; it’s your integrity as well. Nobody wants to hear the words, “See you in court”……….except maybe a lawyer!”

My rating: contracts: (4), Hearing the words, “You got my word on it!” (1)

From the book: THE CRIMINAL LAW HANDBOOK: KNOW YOUR RIGHTS, SURVIVE THE SYSTEM: "An easily navigated, plain-English resource for laypersons, including accused criminals and their families, victims and their families, and anyone looking for information about how the criminal justice system generally operates...An excellent and balanced guide to the state court criminal justice process...This easy-to-understand book contains everything you need to know about criminal law. Indispensable for anyone who wants to understand exactly what goes on in a criminal case......Quite simply, this volume should be on everybody's bookshelf... Bergman and Berman have created a guided tour of the criminal justice system -- intended both for the curious and for those who find themselves caught up in it."

Thursday, May 13, 2010


It’s 3 o’clock in the morning. Glass shatters. A window is broken. You hear the unwelcoming sound of footsteps walking across your living room floor. Those same footsteps stop at the bottom of the stairs that leads up to your bedrooms. Your ears strain as you listen for the next sound. Your heart’s pounding. Your pulse is racing. Beads of sweat form on your brow. Your ears strain listening for the sound of the familiar creak of the stairs that he’s climbing that is leading him to you. Where’s that darn dog when you need him?

If he’s a German Shepherd with the ideal temperament for his breed, than the intruder never made it across the living room floor to the staircase. As soon as the intruder put his sorry little leg into the room, the dog pulled him in the rest of the way and was shaking and ripping at his trousers. The sound you heard were not footsteps coming up the staircase. They were feet that were running to the front door trying to escape from the lunatic that has him by the seat of the pants!

If he’s a German Shepherd with a timid temperament, he’s hiding right next to you under the bed. The pounding of your heart is actually the bed shaking from the nervous coward hiding under it. Better get the baseball bat out of the closet because you’re going to have to fend for yourself and your dog!

If he’s a German Shepherd who is a fear biter, there is a very, very slim chance that he could help you (err, I mean help himself). Maybe when the intruder comes into the living room, the shrinking violet might feel trapped and will bite him and the guy will run away thinking there’s a big mean old dog in the house.

If he’s a German Shepherd who loves everyone, he’ll just let the guy in and show him where the silver is! The intruder will give him a bone which he carries in his pocket just for these types of dogs. The dog is happy and the intruder is even happier as he makes off with your belongings.

And then there’s one more type of German Shepherd that the intruder can run into. He’s the aggressive dog. He sees the man coming up the lawn and watches as he breaks the glass. As he starts to come into the living room, the dog already has him by the throat and his breaking and entering days are over.

If nothing else at least your dog will be a good alarm system for you. He’ll let you know that someone is trying to break in and enter. Hopefully this will give you enough time to call the authorities before the creep is in your house. Most dogs you don’t need to tell them what to do. If they hear a strange sound, they’re up investigating it and making a lot of noise barking at it.

Someone once told me that what’s the good of having your German Shepherd? All the intruder needs is a gun and your dog is dead. Well that’s why I always keep more than one dog in the house at a time. I have three. If one of them doesn’t get the intruder, than the other one or two will! Dogs are very quick and before the intruder knows what hit him, he should be knocked off of his feet.

Some people don’t feel that all dogs will attack someone if they tried entering their house. Some say that not all dogs will bite. I must admit that I have read about this when doing some research for another article that I wrote about. Many people are under the assumption that because it’s a German Shepherd, he will protect you and bite the intruder. Just because a dog acts like a maniac when someone knocks on a door, doesn’t mean that they will attack that person once he’s inside.

Of course, we all hope that this never happens and if it did that our dog would be there to defend us. Let’s hope that they never have to prove it.

My rating: German Shepherds as watch dogs: (4)

Wednesday, May 12, 2010


Anyone that owns a dog knows that one of their biggest concerns is fleas, ticks and mosquitoes. If you own a dog, more than likely you’re going to own a few fleas or ticks along the way as well. While you want to keep the dog, you want to get rid of the fleas and ticks. The mosquito presents its own problems, namely heartworm. So you know that you need to do everything possible to prevent these critters from infecting and in some case killing your dog. Some people choose the conventional medications and assorted poisons to get rid of these bothersome pests. Other people look to treat their animals with a more natural approach. But what about other creepy, crawling things and things that go bump in the night? Fleas, ticks, and mosquitoes are not the only things we have to worry about when it comes to our beloved pets.

It always amazes me that something so small can be so deadly. We already know how deadly the above mentioned insects are. But what about their cousins? Spiders, (one of my most hated creatures on this earth) can also cause problems for your dogs and especially puppies. Dogs lie on the floor, in crates, in dog houses, outside, etc. They are easy prey for these little "uglies!" Depending upon where you live, there are some very poisonous spiders like the brown recluse or black widow. And even a spider that isn’t poisonous can cause an allergic reaction in your dog. Many times I hear of people saying that their dog is swollen on some part of their body. Sometimes it’s caused by a spider bite. Little puppies are vulnerable to a spider bite. Rarely is the black widow bite fatal, but if a puppy is bitten by one they may have bigger issues with the venom due to their size. Treat bites with ice and Benadryl (your vet can tell you the correct dosage). If he develops an unusual redness, pain or difficulty breathing or paralysis, get the animal to your vet as soon as possible. The brown recluse spider’s venom destroys tissue surrounding the bite. Clean the wound with hydrogen peroxide, chorhexidine or vovidone iodine. If your dog becomes lethargic, develops a rash, fever, chills, vomiting or diarrhea or if you notice that the wound becomes larger or persistent drainage occurs, get in touch with your Vet immediately.

Another bothersome insect can be of the flying kind like the bee or wasp. My dogs will snap at them and sometimes chase them. Some of these flying insects have a temper! They will actually attack you or the dog if you go after it. Sometimes they will lose their “sorry” little lives if the dog gets it. Other times, your dog will be in danger. Again, like a person, a dog can have an allergic reaction to a bee or wasp sting. Many times if bitten, the dog will paw at his fur trying to remove the insect’s stinger. You can scrape away the stinger with a stiff object like a Popsicle stick or credit card. Now researching this article, I read two conflicting directions. One writer said to pull the stinger out with a tweezers. Another writer said pulling the stinger out with a tweezers or your finger could rupture the poison sac allowing the toxin to enter your dog’s body. The second writer suggested administering 1 mg. of Benadryl per pound of your dog’s body and applying a cold pack to the swollen area. I would recommend calling your vet to find out the correct way of removing the stinger and the correct dosage of any medicine before you use it.

Snakes are another creature that can prove deadly to your dog depending upon what part of the country you live in. Not all snakes are venomous. Knowing which ones are can be a life saver for both you and your dogs. Naturally prevention is the best medicine. If you live in an area that is known to have venomous snakes, don’t let your dog run loose. Walk him on a leash. Don’t let him explore holes or dig under logs or rocks where snakes are known to hide. Keep your dog away from areas that are covered in ivy or wood piles. This is where mice tend to hang out. Where there are mice……there are snakes! Yuck to both of them! If your dog is bitten, even by a non-venomous snake take him to your vet. Why? Because all snakes transmit bacteria simply because they eat rodents which can carry numerous amounts of diseases. And don’t assume if it’s a baby snake and you or your dog gets bit that you don’t have to worry. Baby Snakes can be just as dangerous as their full-grown counterparts. They are born with fangs and venom as well!

First Aid for a snake bite: keep the wound below the level of the heart. Carry the dog if possible. Increasing the dog’s pulse and respiration also increases the absorption of the venom. Make sure you call the Animal Emergency Center to make sure they have anti-venom and let them know you’re on your way. Ask if you should give the dog Benadryl and what dosage you should give him. Identify the snake or describe it, but stay away from it. Do not cut over the marks or try to suck out the poison. Do not move the animal more than needed. Do not place an ice pack over the bite because this can result in the limb having to be amputated. Venom is caustic and immediately breaks down tissue and blood cells, so as much as you don’t want it traveling to the vital organs, you also don’t want the concentration of toxin frozen in one place.

Another concern for the pet owner is rabies. The rabies virus is present in the saliva of a rabid animal. Many wild and domestic animals can be infected with rabies: dogs, foxes coyotes, wolves, and bobcats; also skunks, bats, raccoons, otters, cats, and ferrets. Small rodents, such as rabbits, opossums, squirrels, chipmunks, rats and mice are rarely infected, and their bites rarely, if ever, call for rabies prophylaxis.

I found this surprising to learn……Rabid bats have been documented in all 49 continental states, but Hawaii is rabies free! Bats are increasingly implicated as important wildlife reservoirs for variants of rabies virus transmitted to humans.

If you’ve ever seen an animal that has rabies, it’s not a pretty sight. Many years ago, I saw a cat that had rabies. This poor creature had absolutely no control of the nerves and muscles in her body. She tried so desperately to walk, but all she could do was back flips, shakes and distortions to her body. The authorities came and they shot her. They actually shot her three times because her body was still jerking all over the place. It was horrible.
What about other creatures that can attack our pets? According to the Veterinary Pet Insurance Co., the top ten wild animals that attack our pets in order of frequency are: snakes, coyotes, raccoons, squirrels, scorpions (specific to Arizona), javelina (pig-like creatures specific to the southwestern U.S.)…..I never heard of them……., porcupines, groundhogs, skunks and rats.

Animals like a bear will usually stay away from humans or dogs. In the rare occasion that they don’t it’s usually because it’s a female bear with cubs. However, that said these are tremendously big and strong animals and sometimes they have been known to attack without provocation. They can become very bold around campsites where people cook their food outside. They have been known to tear campsites apart looking of food. They have a tremendous sense of smell can can smell food miles away. With more and more homes being built in what used to be the wilderness and the animal’s domain, it is not uncommon to see the once “camera shy” bear or other large animal like a mountain lion become more brazen and venture closer to the human’s home and property. After all this was once their and their ancestor’s property and they consider us the trespassers!

Most of the times these wild animals stay away from dogs that are large like the German Shepherd. However, when an attack does occur, most of the time it’s because the dog initiated it. So how can we prevent this from happening? You shouldn’t leave your dog unattended outside particularly at night. Keep food indoors, clean out the bird feeders, and don’t keep food scraps in open trash cans outdoors. And ALWAYS make sure you have a fence around your property if you own dogs. Don’t sell your puppies to families that don’t have a fenced in yard!
We don’t want to become paranoid and never leave our house because of the dangers that are out in the wild. We must do what we can to co-exist in a world that is home to many different species of animals and unfortunately (in this writer’s opinion) too many insects. Our dogs don’t stop and think before they charge at something or put their nosy little noses where they don’t belong. So although the German Shepherd is our guardian MOST OF THE TIME, so we too must be their guardians when it comes to the other living things on this planet.

My rating: respecting other living creatures: (4), learning first aid: (4), having a first aid kit: (4)

Tuesday, May 11, 2010


Well the spring shows have been under way now for the last couple of months. Some Futurities are already finished and the owners of the top winning dogs are dreaming of the National Specialty show to enter the futurity finals. Some dogs have finished their championships already and others are on the same quest. Congratulations to the owners of these fabulous animals!

As the days get warmer, traveling to dog shows with food in the car becomes more of a challenge. For extended trips, I always carry a food cooler in my car. If I am staying over night at a hotel, I need to bring my dog’s food with me in something that will keep it cold and prevent it from going bad. Because I always add meat to my dog’s food, I must have a place to store it in my car until I get to the hotel. This is also a place for me to carry my drinks, sandwiches or snacks that I might want to eat on the road.

I like a cooler that is large enough to put small containers of my dog’s meat in. Sometimes you can use large freezer zip lock bags to keep the food fresh and this can save you room in the cooler so you can pack other things in there as well. Unless it’s a very large cooler, you might not be able to keep your dog’s water in it. Sometimes you may have to carry two coolers just for this purpose. You can also carry ice packs in the cooler in case your dog or you over heats.

My dogs as I’ve said before are excellent eaters. So I like to keep some treats for them that I can keep in the refrigerator for a cool snack. I keep hard boiled eggs on the shelves for both the dogs as myself as well. They’re nice and cold and loaded with protein so it’s a cooling and healthful snack for them to enjoy. I also give them cold veggies like baby carrots to satisfy their need for something crunchy and refreshing at the same time.

Speaking of over heating, the up coming hotter weather is the most dangerous time of the year to travel with dogs. It’s common sense, but it still needs to be said, don’t leave your dog in the car with the windows rolled up or even with a little crack in the top of the window while you run in the store to do a quick errand. The temperatures can climb so quickly and soon the car becomes a furnace with your dog burning up inside. Some people like to take their dogs with them everywhere. The hot weather is one of those times that you should just leave your dog at home.

If you are traveling to shows with your dog, pay close attention to your dog. Grooming him and preparing him for the show ring and then showing him can over heat your dog very quickly and can lead to heat stroke. Add to that the excitement the dog feels at a show and it can be a set up for a disaster if one is not careful and watchful of his dog. Keep your dog well hydrated. Many times the show grounds have a hook up for water hoses. One must be very careful, however when hosing a dog down. If you put him back in the hot car in his crate, he can heat up very quickly and the inside of the car can become like a sauna for the dog. This also can be true if you lay a wet towel in his crate. Initially it may be cool for the dog, but within a few minutes it will heat up and instead of cooling him down, it will have the reverse effect on him.

At any dog show, most people will look for the shadiest spot to park their car or van. Unfortunately those are the spots people fight to get and unless you get to the show grounds VERY early, those few spots will have been taken by the time you do get there. Providing adequate shade for your dogs is a must! Some people put their dog’s crate outside of the car under an awning that they have brought with them for this purpose. The main goal is to keep your dog as comfortable as you possibly can in hot temperatures. It’s not unheard of that some dogs have lost their lives in this type of weather. Make sure that your dog gets plenty of water to keep him hydrated.

For those that are lucky enough to own a motor home, keeping the show dog in this air-conditioned “home away from home” is a luxury many of us can’t afford. Don’t be too surprised if your dog doesn’t want to leave the comforts of the motor home to go out in the hot temperatures just to run around in a circle. You might find the time that he does the most pulling at the end of the leash is on his way back to the air-conditioned “giant!”

If you keep your dog outside for most of the day, again make sure he has proper shade and always plenty of clean fresh water. I’d rather leave my dog in a crate with air conditioning during the hottest times of the day than outside. If you work or have to leave the house for longer periods of time during the day, you can set the air conditioner lower just as long as it’s set at a comfortable temperature.

Investing in an inexpensive kid’s plastic pool can be a God send for the outside dog. Most dogs love to lay down in it to cool their hot tummies and feet. Just make sure you change the water and keep it clean and cool for your dogs. Mosquitoes larvae can build up in it if you don’t’ keep it clean. Spraying your dog with the hose can be cooling for him as well. Some dogs love to run through the sprinkler system on your lawn if you let them. Keeping them cool and comfortable should be your main goal.

Dark dogs feel the heat even more than other dogs do. The sun is naturally drawn to the dark dog’s coat. You might find him heating up quicker than some of your other dogs. My “Rajah” (the dark male pictured at the top of this blog) used to love lying out in the plastic pool outside on the back lawn. When I moved, I no longer had a pool for my two dogs. Both he and “Nuance” were my house dogs. When I went to work, they stayed in the house together all day. One day when I was home, I noticed that just Nuance was by my side in the house. Where was Rajah I wondered? So I quietly went around the house to see if I could find out what he was doing. When I didn’t locate him in the main part of the house, I went in to my bedroom. He wasn’t there. So I went in to my master bath, and lo and behold there he was! He didn’t have his beloved swimming pool outside any more so he made due with my bath tub! Yup he was lying in the bath tub. It didn’t have any water in it, but it must have been so cooling for his big 105 lb. body. I grabbed my camera (he wasn’t going anywhere), and I took a picture of him. I have that picture someplace in my storage. I wish I had it to show you with this article. Oh well, another time. But these dogs know what they need to keep themselves comfortable!

If you walk your dog everyday, don’t do it in the middle of the day when it’s the hottest outside. The best time of day to walk him is in the morning or evening when it’s a bit cooler. You’ll both be a lot happier.

If your dog does live outside, it is imperative that besides adequate fresh, cool water that he has shade and shelter from the elements. Provide your dog with a dog house that is insulated to help give him some relief from the extremes of the weather.

Basically all of this stuff is just good old fashioned common sense, but you’d be surprised how some people lack it when it comes to the proper care of their dogs in the hot weather. It’s as though they are suffering from oxygen starvation or heat stroke themselves. We can do for ourselves. The animals can’t. They depend on us. Take care of them first so you can all rest comfortably because believe me dealing with an animal that is under stress from the heat is not a pretty sight. Prevention is crucial to your dog’s safety. Just remember, if you don’t want to be out in the heat for any length of time, neither does your dog. He feels the heat a lot more than you do.

My rating: hot weather and your dog: (1), water readily available: (4), shade and shelter: (4)