Dog Eat Dog.

Or dog nip dog.  I have such problems with dog owners who just don’t understand German shepherds.  Gaaaa!  Yeah, I know everybody thinks they’re dangerous, but they aren’t.  They just… aren’t.

When my dad was a kid, his family had a series of border collie’s named Harvey.  Yes, all of them were named Harvey.  And they were all buried in the backyard with a ‘Harvey’ headstone.

When I was a kid, we had a fox terrier who died at the age of one year… very sad.  A Sheltie who was a pain in the ass – she hated us kids.  Hated us.  She bit my sister in the face and practically tore her nose off.

When I was an older teen, we got a collie/German shepherd mix, who was not only beautiful, but brilliant, just brilliant.  Boaz was a great dog.  My dad says Boaz was the best dog ever.  And yeah, he was, until my husband and I got Louie.

Louie wasn’t our first dog.  Before Louie we had a Golden Retriever, Rosie, the sweetest, most perfect dog for a young family with little babies.  Rosie put up with anything.  She treated our babies like her own puppies.

I could say, “Rosie, watch the baby.”  And she’d lay right down next to the baby on the floor.  Or, “Rosie, clean the baby.”  And she’s clean up the baby’s face and hands.  I know what you’re thinking – “Eww…gross!”  Not really.  Rosie wasn’t one of those poop-eating dogs and I figured her mouth was at least as clean as the sand my kids ate out of the sandbox.  I’m not a clean freak and my kids don’t suffer from allergies so I guess I did something right.

After Rosie died, I couldn’t bear to get another Golden because I knew we’d always be comparing the dog to Rosie, so I got Louie, a German shepherd cub.  The long-haired shepherds look just like bear cubs.  Louie was the cutest, the smartest, the easiest dog I’ve ever had.  He wasn’t perfect.  Just ask Jane, the Jack Russell Terrier he nipped in the butt.  She never forgave him.  Never.  And I had to keep a spray bottle of lemon juice handy because he liked to use those sharp little puppy teeth on the kids.  He dug a hole in the backyard – one hole – obsessively.  When he went to the vet, he’d never bite or nip, but he’d thrash.  Imagine a hundred pound dog thrashing while you’re trying to look in his ear.  It would take four or five of us to hold him down for the simplest problem.

Louie was terrified of really small children.  He’d always run away from them, but one afternoon we were hiking and a little boy, maybe four or five years old, ran up to him and threw his arms around Louie’s neck.  I was horrified.  I just knew Louie would rip that kid’s face off and it would be terrible and there would be hell to pay.  But Louie held perfectly still.  I could see the effort it took.  His eyes were saying – “Don’t bite him.  Don’t bite him.  Don’t bite him.”  By sheer force of will, he controlled himself.  This is the same dog that went after the man who attacked me, the man wearing a ski mask and carrying a knife.  Louie probably saved my life that day.  Certainly he saved me from being raped.

Those of you who know me know how devastated I was when Louie died suddenly a year after that incident.  A German shepherd is not a dog.  These dogs are people in hairy suits.  I know we all say that about our dog, but German shepherds really are people in hairy suits.  (Once you have a GSD, it’s hard to go back.)  I was so distraught at the loss of my best friend (sorry honey) that I went out and got Jake – known around these parts as Albert Einstein on meth.

Jake is now a year and a half.  He’s the talk of the dog park.  Everybody knows him.  He’s the playinator.  He never tires.  His best friends are Zoe, Daisy, Hector, Ford, Eddie, Winston, Callie, Riley, Winnie and Rufus.  There is only one dog he doesn’t like, so we avoid that dog, and there’s one dog who doesn’t like him (a teacup chihuahua who would like to tear Jake’s head off except he’s only as big as Jake’s ear – Zini).  Jake’s social problems, when they arise, stem from his high energy level, his speed, and the fact that he’s bred to herd sheep.  If a dog runs away at high speed, he’ll chase the dog, cut him off, nip at his butt, and turn him back towards us.  Some dogs and their owners take offense at this behavior.  They freak out when a German shepherd chases their dog, even when their dog initiates the play.  Christ, my dog doesn’t even lift his leg to pee yet!  He’s still a baby.

I have to be so careful with new people.  I need a sign that says, If your dog runs, my dog will chase him.  He won’t hurt him, but he may nip his butt.

Mostly I have to anticipate and gather Jake in.  If I can tell a dog is going to run, and if I sense fear coming from an owner, I leash Jake and we walk on by like it ain’t no big thing – he’s the perfect gentleman on leash.

Jake’s favorite day to chase?  When the Vizsla club comes to the park.  Talk about speed!  He gets to herd a dozen dogs around.  He thinks they’re deer.

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22 Responses to Dog Eat Dog.

  1. yoshi says:

    I bet Rosie would clean up the babies even without being told to do so. Probably would clean up a lot of other things too if she got the chance.

  2. Amber Skyze says:

    LOL Beckett our Golden loves to clean the baby. :) He’s the best dog I’ve ever owned and I’ve had many in my life. We also have 2 labs who are wonderful with kids and great dogs, but can’t compare to the Golden. The engery of of golden is incredible. He can run and chase the ball all day long.
    My aunt has always had German Shepards and I know they are amazing dogs. Your Jake is gorgeous.

  3. Penelope says:

    I love this post! (Can’t stop smiling)….

    One of my sister’s friends had a Collie who used to “herd” people in the backyard during a party. My sis said by the end of the party, everyone was squeezed into one corner. hee hee…cute!

    Lucy, my long-haired mini doxie is all about love. She doesn’t want to walk. She doesn’t want to leave the house. She wants to sit next to the children and lick them until their skin falls off. There isn’t a lot of badger-hunting hound dog left in her.

    Great post!

  4. Mia Watts says:

    My cat can’t herd for shit. ;)

  5. Katalina Leon says:

    We’ve had a series of Border Collie mixes and I just love them. All were shelter rescue dogs. They’re definitely the right fit for our family.
    XXOO Kat

  6. Jaye says:

    I’m a mutt person. I love German Shepherds, though. They’re what I call “thinking” dogs. You can almost see the gears turning as they puzzle out a problem. (as opposed to a dog like my chow/lab mix who’s never had a thought in his head and he just bumbles along until he can’t bumble no more and then sits and waits for somebody to come pull him out of whatever pickle he’s gotten himself into)

    I love that image of Jake and the Viszlas. There’s a local borzoi club that brings their dogs to a nearby park to run them through obstacle courses. I bet Jake would have a blast chasing them. Except, borzois are so snooty, they’d probably stop running and give Jake the doggy equivalent of “Excuse me, son. You’re bothering me.”

  7. Yes, Jaye, German shepherds are angsty dogs. They wonder about their place in the world. Why am I here? What is my job? Who are these people? Is that man up to no good? He knows a borzoi. She ignores him. He’s way beneath her notice. His friend Zoe is a chow/German shepherd mix. Jake adores her.

  8. Yeah, Kat, you’re like my dad. Smart dogs! Are yours named Harvey?

  9. Hello Miss Mia! Poor kitty cat! Maybe she can herd mice?

  10. Oh Penny, I’d love to meet Lucy. She sounds so friendly. Jake is a hoot, but he scares people – he’s so enthusiastic.

  11. Oh Amber, don’t you love Golden’s with babies? They are perfect for children. So nurturing! And they learn fast that children equal dropped food!

  12. Yes, Yoshi, Rosie also swept the floor on command!

  13. Mia Watts says:

    Mice are merely edible toys. They have a nice juicy crunch and who’s going to ignore a thoughtful kitty who leaves you a mouse kidney to prove the destruction of the little buggers?

  14. Stephanie says:

    We came home from a trip once — either someone stayed at the house with the kids or they were at the cat spa, but we got home and there were three nastily decapitated, identical rodents lined up in front of our garage door. We think someone was playing homage to our cats’ superiority.
    My sister had a cat of whom my brother in law said that he wouldn’t chase a rodent unless it were wearing a friskies label.

    Ta. S

  15. Steph and Mia, you can your cats! Now my cats, on the other hand, used to help contribute to the welfare of the family by leaving dead mice on the kitchen counter. All ready and waiting to be prepped for supper!

  16. I had 2 German Shepherds growing up. One got sick and died very young, but the other one lived to a grand old age. She was the most loyal, sweet dog…unless you wore a uniform or were a man. She didn’t like them. She lived to protect the kids (me and my sister) and would defy Dad to do it. I could never bring myself to get another one after she was gone, and recently got a Mastiff. He doesn’t herd anything, but he does guard things…well, me. He makes sure NO ONE gets near Mommy. Even Daddy. So Daddy likes to play the, “I’m gonna get Mommy” game until Indy (Indiana Jones) lays on top of me to ensure no one can get to me. If Daddy doesn’t stop this game soon, Indy will grow beyond his current 170lbs and I will be crushed to bone dust. I feel bad for people who don’t know what it’s like to have the love of a good dog.

  17. Oh, and to the cat lovers out there…I have a ninja kitty who is like the Godfather of the neighborhood. All the neighborhood dogs tremble in fear of Henry Chow, Ninja Kitty.

  18. We have a Weimaraner, Edgar Allen Poe. He is my awesome protector from UPS, FEDEX & the mailman. :) Oyr son has a Pit Bull who is a mush. Talk about a bad rap!!

  19. Sharon! What a great name for a dog! I love it! Jake has one pit bull friend. When raised right, they are very sweet. And Jake loves everybody who comes to the front door. But you don’t dare enter his backyard. He’s quite protective.

  20. Erica – too funny! I’d like to meet your cat.
    I have to admit, there is something about German shepherds and people in unusual garb. They don’t like hats, especially hats pulled down low over the eyes.
    You’ve talked about your mastiff before. He sounds like a wonderful baby!

  21. Casey Wyatt says:

    Up until September we had Dalmatians for twenty years. They are rascals – always getting into trouble and they don’t care if you know it. They also love to play and run around (they were bred to run with horses and carriages – coach dogs). I suspect all of my Dals would have loved to play with Jake. He sounds like a ton of fun.

    And Boaz – was he by chance named after Franz Boaz, the anthropologist?

  22. Ha! Boaz was named for a friend of mine. A very handsome guy. But we mostly called Boaz Bo, so… Too funny! I shoulda named him for Franz Boaz. Jake loves fun Dalmatians, Casey, but usually they ignore him. They seem to have places to go, things to do…