When the dog is awake, the shepherd may sleep.
Wow, a lot has happened in the past few months, huh? * Looks around nervously * Yeah. I have a huge list of drafted posts, but it most of it doesn’t seem appropriate. With so many people struggling right now, writing about our finished bathroom or upcoming renovations feels a little tone deaf. We are fortunate—so very, very fortunate, and we’re in a really good place. But it’s been a rough week, so … PUPPY!
I’ve been around dogs my entire life. I had several throughout childhood, and I grew up with my grandmother and aunt’s dogs, and all big dogs, at that. I’d longed for a German Shepherd since I was around twelve years old, which my parents kept saying “no” to—but I did get a lab mix, a Bluetick Beagle, a shelter dog, and a few others. There were also a few temporary dogs; my Dad was a career firefighter, and he worked at the local airport fire station. On a few occasions, he brought dogs home that people had abandoned at the airport—a German Shorthaired Pointer named Hunter (whose owners eventually came around to claim him), a Golden Retriever named Schooner (who, after a couple of weeks with us, ate all the Halloween candy while we were at work/school and then puked, peed, and pooped all over the house… to which my Mom responded by telling my Dad to find him a new home IMMEDIATELY), and a gorgeous, red Irish Setter named Jesse. I don’t remember what happened to Jesse, but I do remember we didn’t have him very long, either, and he infamously barked every time he heard an airplane flying overhead the house.
I had a few other dogs in my late teens and very early twenties—in hindsight, between undiagnosed ADHD and the turmoil of my life then, I was in no position to have a dog, but I never not wanted one. My boyfriend-at-the-time and I got an Olde English Bulldog puppy who, after much deliberation, we named Lucy. (I originally suggested the name Stella, because I was taking Italian lessons at the time and wanted an Italian name—”stella” is Italian for “star.”) When I moved to Prague, the plan was that he would bring her when he followed me over a couple months later… but dog quarantine rules were tighter then, and my ex wasn’t very helpful in figuring out all the dog-overseas details. So ultimately, I decided the best thing for Lucy would be to let my cousin take her. I sobbed… and then became fixated on French Bulldogs once we were in Prague. A French Bulldog is a far cry from a Shepherd, but they seemed far more manageable for the circumstances and location. I remember the exact moment I told that same boyfriend, “We’re getting a French Bulldog!” after I pointed out the tiny black Frenchie puppy that was waddling around Radost FX one night. We broke up… sorta (that’s a story that requires a book of essays to tell), but then we talked about getting a French bulldog together when he started making noise about me moving back in with him in the other Czech town he had moved to… but I realized I could not go backwards when my freedom and mental health finally felt so close. OH! I digress. So many stories to be told.
Anyway. I never stopped wanting a German Shepherd.
When I met my husband, I didn’t give it much thought at first since he claimed he wasn’t a dog person (which… well, let’s just say it’s a miracle I gave him a chance anyway!), and we lived in a rented house in Santa Monica where a dog would have been really hard to manage. But then—another story worth telling again at some point—there was The Night of the Shooting outside our house. And all that I’ll say here is that a K9 unit came around, and I was swooning over the German Shepherds. The shooting happened only about a month before we left LA for Seattle. That incident left the kind of impression on me that had me shaking and sobbing on the phone with my Husband, then my mom, after I heard an unidentified loud bang in the distance from the living room of our new house in Seattle. Since my husband often traveled for work and we had a baby, a big enough house, and a good-sized yard, my I WANT A DOG campaign began in earnest. And I was not settling for a French Bulldog. I was getting the dog I always wanted—to be honest, I’m not just a “dog person,” I’m a big-dog person. And I really needed a dog that could do more than just sit around looking cute, ya know?
So a little over five years ago, I convinced my husband to just go look at some German Shepherd puppies during a road trip to Boise, Idaho (with our five-year-old son). I know what you’re thinking—”Just look, nice try.” But I really did just want him to look and get used to the idea. I wasn’t prepared to deal with a puppy at that moment. However, in all my hours googling of German Shepherds, I became obsessed with the silver and sable ones, and that was what the breeder in Idaho had: silver, sable, black, and white.
PS Before you start getting on me about going to a breeder—this is no ordinary breeder. The dogs live and roam around on a working farm, and many of them are trained for and sent out on search and rescue. Relatives of our dogs have been to on missions to areas hit by tsunamis and earthquakes… and even Ground Zero after 9/11. These are no ordinary German Shepherds!
So my husband grudgingly agreed to take a side trip to the breeder, repeatedly grumbling, “We are just looking.”
Yeah, well. Guess who fell in love with a dog on the spot? It was me who kept saying, “Are you sure you want to do this now?” as I anxiously thought about my son & I flying back East to visit my mom a couple weeks after, and wondering how my husband—who had never had a dog—would manage.
We had gone into an area where older pups were roaming around first, and this four-month-old, golden-eyed, sable girl (who also happened to be the biggest and “pick of the litter”) wasted no time manipulating my husband and son. We went over to another area where there was a pile of eight-week-old fur balls rolling around, and as I cooed and squealed over them, both my son and husband kept staring back in the direction of the older pups. My husband was sure the sable girl was staring after us. I quickly realized she was doing me a solid, and that my “I Need a Shepherd” campaign was over. Just like that. I hadn’t wanted a dog right that second, (Really!) but since the boys were the hard sell, I figured we should get whichever dog they connected to. So we actually drove home with a dog the next day. Obviously, we are all in love with her, and after five years, my husband still keeps repeating, “Wow, I think I’ve been a dog person my whole life, I just didn’t know it!” (Obviously, I must have sensed this, because how else to explain my hanging around someone for so long who claims to dislike dogs?)
So then the pandemic comes along. And I found myself idly looking at dogs online… and the next thing you know, I’m saying, “Maybe I should contact the breeder and see if they’ll have any litters soon…?” And Husband and Kid are saying, “Hell, yeah!” And then the breeder tells me they have a litter that will be born sometime in May, ready to go around end of June/early July. And then I tell Husband and Kid and they’re saying, “Hell, yeah!” again as I tell them repeatedly that a tiny, eight-week-old puppy is very different and much harder than a sixteen-week-old puppy. (Plus, our girl truly is the smartest damn dog you’ve ever met—she was completely, fully house-trained in two days. And of the two accidents she had in the house during her first two days with us, she barked to alert me that she’d pooped on the kitchen floor. But that’s a Shepherd, for ya!)
I guess a puppy felt like just what the doctor ordered. Since our plans for Bora Bora and Russia were upended (and the two weeks I was planning on spending in Prague, writing), and we were all home and the glorious Seattle Summer was coming up, we figured… why the hell not? So the pups were born and two weeks ago, this little guy joined the family.
He’s a full-on silver shepherd, and we now officially have the two most gorgeous dogs on earth. Puppies are hard, for sure, but it turns out it is actually a little easier when you have a trained, older dog in the house. We were really nervous about how our girl would feel about the new addition, but she’s always been a pretty laid-back dog and loves playing with other dogs. So now we have a lot of this:
We’re not dog people, we’re German Shepherd people! And I just bought this, which is now hanging in the kitchen:
And just for the heck of it, here’s a few more pics of our dogs. Puppies are hard, for sure, but if you can’t go on any of the vacations you’d planned for the year and the world is falling apart around you, they’re a great distraction. Two German Shepherds is not a bad consolation prize. :