Importance of knowing the breed.
To first understand the German Shepherd Dog breed, one has to first understand the spelling. Most GSD owners fully accept the implications of owning a dog that herds. When I receive a message from a frantic owner stating that their shepherd just bit someone, I first question the severity of the bite. I stopped answering the phone because the amount of time I was taking to explain the breed to inexperienced owners, was becoming time consuming. I'll never understand accepting an animal into a home where it will have access to strangers, children, small animals, and then being surprised when the dog acts according to its breed characteristics. They are shocked that their chickens are being chased! How dare the shepherd kill the chickens! They are shocked when their children are outside yelling and chasing a ball and they get nipped in their rear. They can't believe that their neighbor was bit after placing his hand over the fence to pet the shepherd.
Pictured is Lucy. She was owned by a family who repeatedly got GSDs and never grasped the basic understanding of the breed. I'll start with Lucy. While this family's children were outside playing with a ball, Lucy (being a GSD) was very excited. There happened to be a visitor that day. Eh, I don't have to finish the story for all you experienced shepherd folks. So, the family thought it would be the right thing to do, to surrender her to their local Animal Care and Control. Lucy was facing euthanasia. Thankfully, the shelter contacted me and I was able to save her. I know aggressive dogs. Lucy is NOT aggressive. Lucy is young and she loves the chase. Sometimes to better describe dogs' personalities to potential adopters, I'll assign a human personality or trait. I loving call Lucy, "party girl". She needed structure and obedience in addition to a well-educated family. The family seems confused about the breed that is ideal for their needs. Inexperienced owners repeatedly equal needlessly dead shepherds.
Now, the irony is...when I first started the rescue in 2011, this same family adopted a GSD that I absolutely loved. In fact, I loved her so much that after she left with this family, I could barely see the road because I was crying so hard. I had to pull over and gather myself. I knew that I could not keep every shepherd that I rescued. I was going to have to used to letting them go. But Katy, she was different. I hoped that family would simply return her for any reason. I told myself that if Katy was to be mine, that God would find a way for her to return. Almost f
ive years later, the owner contacted me and told me that their family were planning on moving to a rural area; a farm really. They were concerned that Katy would chase chickens. I couldn't believe what I was hearing. They had Katy for five years and are more concerned about damn chickens? I was mad and the owner knew it. I'll abbreviate this story a bit, but look for it in my upcoming book. Anyway, the owner also said that her children were upset because their cat was living with friends in the neighborhood because Katy chased it. I couldn't wait to get her back. I reserved much of my anger because I didn't want to lose Katy again.
If I could change one thing in rescuing this breed is that the adopters/purchasers educate themselves about the breed before getting them. Most people do more research into a car they are planning on buying than the breed of dog they want. They judge by looks or how the dog will make them appear to the public. I suppose it's "cool" to own a working dog because they do "cool" things such as apprehend bad guys. They are protective and that definitely looks "cool". I mean, that's impressive that a dog will lay down its life for its owner. Sadly, when the GSD meets the inexperienced owner and that owner puts the dog into situations where someone will eventually get bit, the dog is now the enemy and the owner cannot wait before they "get rid of it". I've always said that the one downfall a GSD possesses is their endless beauty as it attracts people that have no business owning them.
Katy has been with me ever since and she is never leaving me again. She was always mine and I knew it. I will feature my Katy soon as she is aging and it's very hard for me to accept.
©2020 Amber Marks