MY DOG - A MEMBER'S STORY 

     

 

 

 

Mary Belecz and her GSD's (August 2014)

I joined the club about ten months ago and had the great fun of attending the "CGC" test at Diane's house shortly thereafter with my delightful "Ella" dog (she passed the test!) but haven't had the time to attend much else since then which I hope to rectify in the near future... if only I can achieve early retirement!  I came to the club through Diane Benoit who I have known through business for years - Diane and I always tend to business and the get down to the important stuff - talking about our dogs! 

My experience with GSD's is pretty long and deep, an avid dog lover all my life I purchased my first purebred (west German working/north American "mix") when, in 1985 my beloved Collie/GSD mix passed away at age 14, and much to my amazement I found I was no longer “qualified” adopt a dog from a shelter due to my scandalous status of "working full time".  One door closes and another opens - I knew I wanted another intelligent active dog - thus my "Sarah" GSD pup entered my life... and taught me just how very active and intelligent a dog could be!  After the shock wore off (she sure taught me allot!)  I was "hooked" on GSD's for life.  Sarah paved the way for Onyx, a West German working dog (bred by Claudia McNaulty of "Vom Bar Berg" kennels) who had amazing intelligence, love and sense of humor combined with such courage, drive, outgoing spirit and kindness that I have never seen such character either before or since.  Onyx had a back injury (lumbar spinal instability) which caused him to stop schuztund training early in his career - I "blame" the sport somewhat for his injury since he was an extremely "hard hitting" dog at bite sleeve - but the sport also gave me a great insight into the dogs, motivations and training which I have used with each generation.  Onyx died way too young (lymphoma sarcoma) but first gave me his daughter Hildie, and caused me to find his "great nephew" "Barley"... who became known as "Pinkie" due to his delightfully kind and humorous character... with an insatiable drive for constant creative play.

 "Pinkie" learned two of Onyx’s favorite games from him before the cancer took Onyx away, after that Pinkie spent a life-time perfecting the games Onyx taught him: "Placement" is delightful life-long creative game and can even be played by senior dogs, and "Go round" is a game that burns off energy from young dogs while also engaging their minds and drive. My current Ella dog learned her own style of these games from Pinkie, and we would be happy to share these games with the club to – they provide joy, creativity, mental and physical stimulation and also provide a happy, strong human-dog bond that virtually eliminates worries of dog's "running off" when off leash for us humans become way more vital.

My current generation of dogs started with Ella - who I brought home as a pup a year after Hildie passed and Pinkie unfortunately was dealing (happily and bravely though) with arthritis and spinal afflictions.  Ella (aka: "EB") is West German conformation lines - I intentionally switched to a "lower drive dog" due to my own advancing age-related (ugh) limitations ... she is still delightfully drivey when out and about but she settles down easier at "quite" time than my working line dogs did.  Ella was joined this past year by her dad - Orbit Vom Anger - it wasn't planned but when her breeder called asking for a good retirement home, how could I say no?  Orbit showed/competed quite successfully in both Europe and America, he has numerous(SV) titles and high trial scores but his most important achievement is being a loving yet tough “huggy boy” who has added a wonderful note to the family – he is so happy to trade his former city (New York) kennel life for our "happy acres" and experience hikes, swimming, unlimited play and his own den and bed that his physical condition has actually improved since we got him – he’s doing pretty darn well for an eight-year-old.  Oh... and I have a third non-GSD dog ... I grew aware of all the "south" dogs needing homes, found a Carolina Dog pup that took my heart, and so rescued "Jacob" (better known as "puppy whuppy") I love the little guy dearly but mixing the non-GSD mind with GSD's is not the easiest... it’s a good thing Orbit is older and slow and "Whuppy" is so darn fast!

Well that’s it for my introduction letter - oh how dog mom of me - I forgot to mention my beloved partner  "Don" who dog-sits each day (he’s retired) while I’m at work, and creates a loving home for me and the pups!   I look forward to spending more time with the club and getting to know all of you. 

 

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Susan and John’s Story (April 2014)

My story with German Shepherds began when I met my Husband. Before going on our first date I made sure that John liked dogs. Come to find out, he loved dogs and had grown up with a variety, his favorite by far being German Shepherds.

My family dog growing up was a Poodle. He was a great dog. He was playful, affectionate, very funny and goofy and very smart. But the reason we had a Poodle was that my Mother has wicked allergies and it was all we could have in the house, even with her getting monthly allergy shots. It became important to me to be sure that anyone I had a romance with had to share my love for dogs and…not have allergies.

In the Winter of 2008, John had an unfortunate and serious accident with a snow blower.  After a four hour surgery he had months of physical therapy, doctor’s appointments, and pain. He worried about permanently losing the full use of his hand. And to make matters worse, he found that the accident had re- injured his back.

I saw that his impatience with the healing process was making him depressed. I realized I really needed to find something he would enjoy that would distract from his problems and also help with his healing. Long story short, we got Fiona. Having a high drive, alpha East German puppy to deal with turned out to be just what the Dr. ordered.

In the beginning our house got turned upside down and my standard Poodle Lacey looked at me many many times as if to ask why? But John and Fiona immediately became a team. First John poured his energy into obedience, then he came across something called Nosework. The rest is history. Fiona now has an NW1, NW2, and also CGC,HIC,BH,TR-1, and RH-F E.

Beside the work John and Fiona were doing together, John and I joined the GSDCSNH club when Fiona was a puppy. We have always been so grateful that we found this group of GSD enthusiasts. The members of the club are all a valuable resource to us and we have learned much. In fact I learned early on that I wanted a GSD of my own. And after seeing some of the wonderful GSDs in our club, I knew what I wanted was the complete opposite of Fiona. I put in my order to Brownhill and got exactly what I asked for, Lieben.

He’s my big handsome boy who wants to be at my side as much as possible. He has slowly matured to the point where he wants to work as a team with me and he has earned his CGC and ORT, so we will be exploring the Nosework world again soon. Lieben’s awesome temperament and sweet loving nature make me want to share him and I would love to get into therapy work with him, something I always wanted and never found time to do with his sister Lacey.

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Sadie’s story by Anita Munoz (February 2014)

Meet    Sadie:  SAMDA’s Somethingroyal, CD BN RE CGC TDI  (Sadie is pictured above in front and in the middle of her parents Darla and Barkley.)

Sadie was born on December 23, 2010 with her sister and six brothers in my dining room. What a Christmas Blessing it was. Her proud parents, Darla and Barkley always there to lend a paw with the pup raising and happy was Darla when she was going to be able to have one of her babies with her forever and always. 

Sadie is the first female pup I’ve had the opportunity to raise from birth and it is quite a different experience than her father and grandfather before her.  She marches to the beat of her own drum at times and can be a crazy pup, for even at 3! She will get a case of the zoomies whether she is inside or out and go wild. She’s very smart and learns new things very quickly, very typical of this wonderful breed.  I am still not sure if she can in fact open doors or she has found a flaw in the way they have been closed but she has on occasion, let the dogs in and found her way into my son’s room to harass his stuffed animals and park her furry butt on his bed.   At 14 months of age, she earned her CGC and TDI certification which for her was a very big accomplishment.  She did amazing during the testing.  Sadie is not the most welcoming to strangers and if you want to ever hope to be on her friend’s list, then just let her get to know you on her terms. She is not aggressive by any means, in fact, the opposite.  The more you try to be her friend, the more she becomes suspicious of “why” and if you have ever done something weird to her in her short young life, she does not forget.  Yet, as a therapy dog, she knows exactly what she is doing and is always there to bring smiles to patients, whether it is a new one or one she has been visiting for a while. She and Barkley visit patients every week and she has learned quite a lot from him.  Our escort at the hospital has completely won Sadie over and Sadie just loves her.  Sadie is just 3 visits away from earning her AKC Therapy Dog title.

From May of 2012 to July of 2013, Sadie was no stranger to the obedience ring and has earned her  BN,CD, RN, RA and RE Titles.  Since then we have been working hard on our Open exercises and hope to debut in the spring. These are unchartered waters for me as I retired her dad, Barkley after he earned his CD and RAE, but I am excited to get back out there with her and just see how much we can achieve together.   I learn as much from her as she does from me as we try to accomplish new tasks together.   Patience and understanding are two big examples.

Sadie loves her family, both skin and fur. Her obedience goes out the window when her “boys” come home. She just can’t contain herself with the excitement of seeing her skin brothers and she becomes a jumping fool.   She enjoys harassing Darla and Barkley every day and well, like all good parents, they let her. Haha. Darla spoiled her from day 1 and she has no problem taking full advantage of that. Sadie can always bring a laugh or two with her silly ways. She has a face so full of expression and an attitude to match.  She is curious and can be a busybody and forgets nothing. She often knows what I’m going to do before I even do it.   I love this silly girl for her unique and goofy ways.  She is never far from my side or on my lap for that matter when I am home.

 

 

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Weston’s Story by Cathy Green (December 2013)

After arranging to get a puppy from Emily, I needed to fly from the Atlanta airport to the Manchester airport. It seemed a little daunting at first. I booked a flight with only a 45 minute layover. But with a little research, I thought I could do it. I had a borrowed Sherpa with me along with a little fan and a bit of courage. With a little skill and luck, I could pick up my puppy from Emily. He was 8 weeks old. Everything went like clockwork and I flew him back home with me under the seat of the plane, literally stuffed in the Sherpa.

We gave Wes a couple of days to settle in and then took him out to the field to start tracking on the third day he was here. He took to it quickly. He began to learn what the flags were for and would get excited to see them. By the time he was 12 weeks old, we started him on turns. I do have to say that I had an advantage with my trainer. He is a retired AKC rep in tracking who has put numerous tracking titles on dogs as well as trained others who have done the same. A wonderful man and very helpful and knowledgeable. He is very patient with the dogs and hard on you as a handler. He made you really pay attention to your dog. He is Herb Morrison. His wife is Teresa, which is also a good friend. Here Wes is at 12 weeks old tracking: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sQkf1ZfW92Y  Here he is doing a turn on the same day: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pPLfirFUpHU

 One day we were out in a field with grass above my knees. Wes was 4 months old and couldn’t see anything but field grass. Herb had laid a track for us earlier. It was a field we had never been in. Herb showed me the start flag. Wes and I took off. We kept going and going with multiple turns. All I could think was where in the hell was the glove and this seemed to be really long! Well, Wes found the glove. I was glad. As we left the field and were talking about the track, Herb informed me that it was a certifiable track and that he was going to certify Wes to enter a test! I can’t tell you how excited I was!  He was a young boy.

When I entered the first test, there were 6 available slots. Wes was 6 months old. The test was in Kentucky at the Horse Park in Lexington. Lovely location. Herb’s wife and I both entered. She had a French Bulldog. A young bitch, about 15 months old. The show secretary called me when she got my entry. She wanted to know if I had written Wes’ birth year wrong. I said, “No, he will be 6 months old”.  Although Herb certified Wes, she actually called AKC to see if a dog could be certified before 6 months old. She knew Herb and should have known he knew the rules. Kind of funny now. Wes was the 1st alternative. We had to go to the test to see if we could actually get in. The extra track had been messed up so it couldn’t be used. Oddly enough, someone had misentered their dog in the wrong category (TD), so Wes got in. We really got in by the seat of our pants! Teresa and her Frenchie were already in.

 

Teresa had track #2 and Wes and I had track #4. The first dog failed. Up next was Teresa and her Frenchie (Wes’ good friend by the way). They passed! The first French Bulldog with a tracking title! Nice!  The third dog failed. Now it was our turn. I am very nervous, of course. Harnessed Wes up and went to the gate and into the field. He saw the flag and knew what to do. He just pulled me to it. When he hit the first turn, no problem. The second turn, no problem. Then it seemed like we went forever. I thought for sure we were going wrong, but heard no whistle. All I could do was trust him. Later on I found out that that leg was 190 yards. Then all of a sudden he started casting. OK, we were at a turn. I just had to wait him out and listen to him. If I had learned anything in my training is to wait it out…be patient. He told me where to go. I followed, that was all I could do. All of a sudden, he found a critter hole. HOLY CRAP! REALLY? He stuck his nose it. I yelled at him to “leave it!” I had already asked about the rules if this happened, but was afraid to walk up to him and then back up for fear I would get the whistle even though it would be OK. I yelled at him to “leave it” once again. He left it and went on and then the silly boy went back to check it out again. All I could think was “REALLY”? I told him to “leave it” once again and then off he took. I can’t tell you how relieved he was. There was another turn, but honestly, I don’t remember it. I knew we should be close to the end and looked forward a bit. There was the glove in sight!!! I kept thinking, keep it up Wes, keep it up. Don’t give up now. Sure enough, we got the glove and I was thrilled!!!

Teresa and I had the only 2 dogs that passed out of 6 that were running. We had worked 4 days a week, in various areas and terrains. After we entered, we worked for 6 days a week. Still, different terrains and of course in rain and sunshine.

I’ve not worked much on a TDX or further. It takes a lot of time (letting tracks age) and space. Wes will indicate cloth, leather, and metal. He has been given all sorts of things to find and does an incredible job. On one occasion we were working a track and he indicated a stick. I asked the tracklayer (now a judge) if that was an article. She said no, but Wes said yes. I asked her if she touched it. She said that she might have and to praise him and go on. Come to find out, she had in fact touched the stick and pointed it in the direction that we were to go. Wes was on to it. I have other stories of his ability that are similar. I think nose work would be fun for him.

Wes is a lovely companion. He is a bit dog reactive (not with my girls, they push him around and he respects them, and he is very gentle with the cats and doesn’t bother the chickens), and I really don’t mind. I need a dog to be a guardian around here. I would love to show him in obedience, however, I haven’t worked with him to control his emotions. He does, sit, down, roll over (in both directions), gives a high five with both front feet, finishes(heel position to the right), swings (heel position to the left),  stays in both sit and down positions, comes to front and I did have him weaving between my legs while I walked. He just got to tall for my short legs.

What else can I say? We love him very much!


 

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Elsa’s Story by Karen von Sneidern (November 2013)

“Brownhill’s Free Spirit” aka Elsa is a gorgeous black and red 5-year old GSD out of Leo and TD. She is loaded with personality and is happy, happy, happy…all the time! She came to me at 8 weeks old…a bubbling bundle of black fur and floppy ears…full of energy.

Three months prior to getting Elsa, I had to put down my beloved 14 year-old male GSD. I said “Never again! I’m all done. I can’t go through this any more!” The pain was too deep; the grief unbearable. But the house was too quiet; the rooms too empty; the yard too lonely. So I made the decision to once again give my heart away to a GSD.   

When Elsa was 4 months old, I took her to dog school where I met Denise and her 4-month old GSD named Lucy. We quickly became friends…having play dates in the woods and sharing in many dog activities. I had already applied to join the GSDC of SNH in the hopes of meeting other people with GSDs. Denise decided to join as well. We have had so much fun with the club…matches in February; sheep herding in April; parades in May; banquets in the winter and many more adventures with our dogs. Elsa earned her CGC at 9 months of age and her TDI at 2 years. She has also completed Advanced Obedience training.

Elsa’s first swimming experience was right after “Ice Out” at Lake Winnipesaukee in early April when she was nine months old. I was playing ball with her in the yard when she saw ducks in the water of my neighbor’s house. Her herding instinct came into action and she raced down the dock to herd them into a group but they were in the water and she was on the dock. She never stopped at the end of the dock and went full speed into the water. Splash!!! When her head popped up she screamed and her front legs violently splashed around. She was clueless about what to do. (I thought all dogs knew how to swim???) I raced down to the dock to save her since she kept going under the freezing water. I was finally able to grab her collar and get her front legs on the dock and then I pulled the rest of her out. My heart was pounding; her heart was pounding! That summer, she learned how to do the “dog paddle.” Now I can’t keep her out of the water!

Club member, John Rumson, got us interested in a new dog sport called Nosework. We started going to Nosework classes in MA and then to John’s class with the club. We loved it! Elsa earned titles in “Nosework 1” and “Nosework 2” in 2012.

Every now and then in life, you make the right decision. Choosing Elsa (or maybe she chose me) was just perfect!!!

 

 

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Whiskey – My Hero Dog, by Janice Lariviere (October 2013)

On a cold Frebruary night I received a call from Susan Sullivan who was with Emily at Brownhill inspecting the “groundhog” puppies.  Four days prior I lost my once in a lifetime dog, Zeke.  My heart was aching.  My loyal dog Robin was by my side, missing Zeke as much as I was missing him.

Susan asked me if I was going to get another dog.  I told her no, Robin was going to be my only dog.  She said that was too bad because they were calling to ask me if I would be interested in one of the groundhog litter.  My first response was no.  I know that every time I get a new dog sooner or later it will break my heart and I’ve had too many broken hearts over lost dogs.  On the other hand, they bring an awful  lot of joy over their lifetimes.  Like this morning when I was trying to put my shoes on and he purposely put his ball in the left shoe.

It didn’t  take much convincing and I decided to take a male sable.  I would be able to pick him up in 8 weeks.  Robin and I bonded during those 8 weeks, taking long walks together and training at Waggin Tails in Westboro, Ma. Hoping to get a rally title, which she did get.

Soon it was time to pick up my prize.  A Brownhill Shepherd.  He was the cutest little thing, he was loveable and nuzzled his little snout into my neck and shoulder.  Robin was in the van, waiting to meet her new baby brother.  The first night we had him my husband was afraid the pup would be lonely so the pup slept on top of him in a recliner.  Both were very happy in front of the gas burning stove.  The second night Gordon still worried about the little guy and they slept together in the recliner again.  I was getting upset. I did not want them to bond too much, after all, it was my pup, he should have been bonding with me.  Not to worry, on the third day Gordon’s back was breaking from sleeping in the recliner.  That routine was over. 

It took me a couple of days to name him, Brownhill’s Kentucky Bourbon, aka Whiskey.  Named for a herding trip to Kentucky with GSDCCM members.

Whiskey and I started obedience training at Waggin Tails and he was the star of the class.  For some reason I can’t remember, we stopped training.  Whiskey has no titles and due to lack of exposure to other dogs he is now dog aggressive.

He has skills in another arena however.   Whiskey has the uncanny ability to sense when my blood sugar is getting too low.  Low blood sugars usually happen late at night or at 0 dark thirty.  Several times he had awakened me to alert me to the problem.  But on Sept 8, 2013, he was a little late on the alert. By the time he started pawing, whining and barking at me, I was already too far gone to help myself.  He kept at me and I finally got out of bed, only to pass out in a diabetic coma.

Whiskey wasted no time going to wake up my husband, asleep in “their” recliner, supposedly watching the Red Sox.  Whiskey barked at him, pawed at him and wouldn’t leave him be.  He thought Whiskey needed to go outdoors so he opened the back door but Whiskey would not go out.  He just continued to bark.  Gordon returned to the game.  Whiskey returned to pawing and barking at him.  Gordon opened the back door again and again Whiskey refused to go out.  Whiskey turned on his heel and ran upstairs, barking all the way.  He ran back down, still barking.  He turned and went back upstairs.   Gordon heard me moan and came upstairs after Whiskey to find me passed out on the floor with Whiskey and Robin sitting beside me.  Gordon crated the dogs and called 911, or, called 911 then crated the dogs – not sure which came first.   

Ever since that night Mr. Whiskey does not leave my bedside, or he joins me on the bed.  Every now and then he gets in close to me and throws his head over my neck and sniffs me.  He is closer and stickier than any dog I’ve ever owned.  He is constantly watching me, and tries his hardest to keep Robin at arm’s length (ok, paw’s length).  She does not have the extraordinary sense that Whiskey has and I guess he doesn’t want her getting in the way if he has to go into action.  For several nights I was afraid to go to bed.  I put a jar of honey and my glucose tablets on my nightstand.  Every time Whiskey wakes me with his nose I take a glucose tablet just to be safe.  So far, our combined efforts have helped me make it safely through the nights. 

It was fate that brought Whiskey and me together…..he was meant for me…..I was not looking for a dog when the opportunity came along.   I guess I never had to worry that he would not bond with me, it had already been predetermined.  I owe my life to this dog.  In my eyes, he can never do any wrong.  Thank you Susan and Emily for bringing Whiskey to my life.  I guess another way of looking at is that you ladies saved my life. :)