I subscribe to a site called "German Shepherd Tips" on Facebook. They post some really great photos of Shepherds and many of them have funny captions that portray the nature of German Shepherds. Today a couple of these pictures hit really close to home.
I have written a number of articles about the German Shepherd that shared our home early in our marriage...our "first son", as it were. He was an attack-trained protection dog; very smart, very loyal, extremely protective, and a clown. He had such a huge personality and a very tangible sense of humor. He also had a sharp sense of right and wrong and what was fair and not fair. Yep. That is all true; sounds like a bit much for a dog, doesn't it? No, he couldn't read or write and no, he couldn't speak (although he did understand two languages). But he could communicate pretty clearly when he needed to.
This is Golf (the year before he died) and #1 Son in Phoenix.
His name was Golf; he was just 18 months old when we got him. We got him cheap because he had a training flaw that the pro couldn't work out of him and he had a slight hip deformation that made him unbreedable. But the pro told us that at 85 pounds, he hit like a hundred-pounder and had a very keen mind. Since we had no intention of putting him in competitions or breeding him, we were happy to take him cheap. He got to nearly 100 pounds before he died; someone poisoned him when he was 8 years old. There are a lot of stories between the day we bought him and the day he died and I have already posted several of them on Blogster and JU. Needless to say, he was a great friend and his loss was terribly painful for the whole family.
But back to the pictures. These two photos put me in mind of one night in Mannheim. We lived in military housing just outside of Mannheim called Benjamin Franklin Village, BFV for short. Every evening I would take Golf out to the end of Columbus Strasse. There was a small field across the street from the entrance to BFV and I would exercise Golf there, throwing sticks and balls and watching him go nuts chasing them down. It was especially fun in winter; I would throw snowballs and he went crazy trying to find them when they hit the ground. On this one evening I found a large stick. I debated if it was too big for him to fetch but when I tossed it, he came roaring back with it half-dragging on the ground behind him. So I found a bigger stick. He brought it back. I looked around and found a broken tree branch. It was about six feet long, six or seven inches thick and it weighed alot. Ipickeditup; it took two hands to hold it and I had to spin around two or three times with it in order to throw it and I nearly fell over when I let go of it. Golf was beside himself. He was all over that branch, trying different ways to get a hold on it, jumping from one side to the other, growling and slobbering and grumbling. He finally settled on the narrowest part of the branch, which was still at least five inches thick, and started tugging. Attack dogs are trained to grab a person by the arm and drag them to the ground with this powerful tugging action. With their butt squatted down to anchor their rear legs and their front legs stiff and planted firmly, they whip their backs with a huge snap. If you have ever played tug-of-war with any dog you have seen how that looks and you know that even the smallest dogs can generate a lot of pull that way. Attack dogs are trained to develop that natural action and an 80-pound dog can pull a 200-poundman off his feet easily. It took Golf a good five minutes to find a grip and another ten minutes to drag that log back to me, but he did it...and stood there panting and slobbering and proud of himself as could be.
The best part of the story, to me, was the way he looked at that branch every time we went back to the field. He would check it out and nuzzle around where other dogs had "left a message" and always put his "mark" on it so every other dog knew who "owned" that log. I loved that dog.