Friday, August 19, 2011


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, August 3, 2011


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

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

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

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

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

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

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