Wow, Atlanta received some snow. When I awoke at 7.30 am it didn’t look like it would snow but then a couple of hours late, the snow started to come down. We went outside with the dogs so that they could experience the snow but it really wasn’t a big thing for them.
If you had told me ten years ago that one day I would be completely passionate about dogs, I would have asked you what you had been smoking. 😉 I never took care of a dog in my life before and I pretty much enjoyed my freedom. Sure when I was a child, I wanted a dog badly. A friend of mine had a Pekingese and that is what I wanted but but my dad was against it. He was afraid that my mother would eventually had to take care of it. And then there were Rex and Elvie, 2 German shepherds that my aunt took care of and I was afraid of them. They were not trained, the were kenneled up all the time and when I went outside to play with my cousin, these dogs always jumped up on me. If it hadn’t been for my husband Sloan, I probably still wouldn’t have a dog but then again, I don’t think he knew what he was getting himself into. I always enjoyed hiking but I didn’t have friends who shared my passion. So a couple of times I decided to go to the North Georgia mountains on my own. Once my husband found out about that, he got upset. He said, “you can’t go hiking on your own. What if something happened to you! This is not Germany. If you had a dog and took the dog with you, I wouldn’t worry about you as much.” That was the sign!!! And so I said, “I want a dog.” When I said that, I think he thought I was crazy. He was against the idea because we lived in an apartment at the time and he said, “we can’t have a dog while living here. The dog needs a backyard so (s)he can play.” I didn’t get that concept and counter argued that I wanted a dog for hiking and therefore got plenty of exercise. Eventually he agreed with my wish and I started the search process. He told me that we could only get a German shepherd and I was okay with that and so in July of 2001, our puppy Cito arrived from Germany. Over the years, our dog pack evolved. 2 years later Barko, another German shepherd, arrived in our family. Let’s put it this way, it wasn’t our intention to get a 2nd dog but Barko needed us to save him and that is what we did. We trained both dogs in Schutzhund and competed with them in several trials. We made a lot of mistakes along the way but we learned from most of them. On the weekends you would find us on dog sport fields or at dog training seminars across the Southeast. We lived, breathed and studied dogs. When Cito came closer to his retirement as a competition dog, I trained him as a therapy dog. Once certified we went to nursing homes and child care facilities to lighten their day and teach them about safety around dogs. In Fall of 2007 I became more aware of shelters and rescue dogs. The Sarah McLachlan commercial for the ASCPA made me aware of the misery that many dogs and cats in this country experience and I found a rescue group nearby my home. I spent many hours walking and caring for dogs until we fostered Shelby, our little Rottweiler female. You can read her story in my previous posts. Over the years we fostered many dogs – from dog aggressive, fearful, to old. We train them and socialize them, we integrate them in our pack and give them a great life until their forever families claim them. Living with and learning from dogs, whether they are our own or our foster dogs, has been an an amazing experience to us. They have been our teachers and I am grateful that they are so patient with us and allow us to learn from them – not only about life but also about leadership.
One of the areas where we need to work with Shelby is passing cars. When 1 or 2 cars pass her by, she stays rather calm. But when she sees several cars coming her way, she freaks out. So today we walked with her to the soccer field near the Elementary school close to our home. The walk is about 1 mile but we have to walk along Wallace Drive and in the afternoon there is a lot of traffic going on this street. On the way towards the school Shelby was doing fine. She stopped a few times but I got her going very easily. However, on the way back she went on strike. Several times she would just hit her 3 little breaks and she didn’t want to move. She just didn’t want to go anymore. And then at the end, she layed down on the street and didn’t want to get up. Since that happened around the traffic light, we waited for a while to see what she would do. But she just layed there in the grass. I even tried to pull her up but she just didn’t move and I dragged her through the grass. At that time Barko, our German shepherd boy and “house nurse”, really got concerned with Shelby. (I call him our nurse since he is always concerned when someone has an injury or makes whining voices.) He jumped around her, he nibbled her in the front legs, he scratched her at her shoulders, he tried to pull her up by biting her in the neck. Shelby didn’t move. So Barko started to bark at her, run around her and try to animate her to play and get up. It was really interesting to watch how concerned he was about Shelby’s well-being. Just 3 days ago we saw the movie “8 Below” where they talked about 8 sled dogs that were left behind in the Antarctic during a bad winter storm. 6 out of 8 dogs survived by themselves for more than 6 months until their care taker Jerry Shepard picked them up. Anyway, Max, the Husky, was a very “caring” dog. He tried to free one of the Husky’s before he passed on. At the end when Jerry, the owner found them and put 4 of them in the 4-wheeler, Max was running back and forth trying to tell Jerry that he wasn’t ready to leave. Suddenly he ran away and Jerry followed him. Not far he found Maya laying in the snow fighting for her life. Barko would do the same thing. When Cito doesn’t feel well, Barko stays around him or sniffs his injury. When Shelby came to our home, he always sniffed her stump and stayed around her. He even sleeps in front of her crate at night. Anyway, after Barko’s nudging, Shelby finally got up and walked home with us.
We believe in socialization. Our dogs have been with us in public buildings, restaurants (in German), at the airports, hotels and stores. The people at Lowe’s in Kennesaw know our boys already and when we go to Lowe’s without the boys, we are always asked the question, “and where are the dogs?” Today it was Shelby’s day to visit Lowe’s. Before we went to the store, we walked with the dogs at Kennesaw Battlefield Park to get rid of their exciting energy. Since Shelby is already doing so well with her recall, she is now allowed to run around freely to explore her surroundings. Of course, I keep the leash on her in case she sees a deer or wants to eat some horse poop. However, I never leave the house without treats so anytime she runs at me or I call her name, I make sure I have food in my hand. She is so cute when she sprints to me with her little floppy ears. And she has that smile in her face when she patiently waits for her reward. She is such a great dog, she comes when she is called. Once we arrived at the store, she walked nicely through the parking lot. When cars approach her slowly, she doesn’t even freak out walking next to them. In the store she was really well behaved. We asked her to lay down in the middle of the ile and she immediately responded. She walked with us through several iles without any hesitation. At the checkout lane she sat down while I paid for my items.Congratulations Ms. Shelby – now you know how to behave in a store.
Today was the first day that Shelby returned to the shelter. She still had a couple of stitches in her leg and I wanted the vet to take a look at it. Besides, I needed to check in with Ann, the head lady of the volunteers, so that she doesn’t think I took Shelby and never return. However, I don’t want her to go yet to the adoption places since she is just not ready yet. After all, it has been today just 14 days since we picked her up. She is doing so great. We walked with her to the shelter which is a one mile walk along a busy road. She walked much better next to the cars. When the cars drive slowly, she actually walks nicely next to me. When cars make weird noises, she stops walking and wants to hide. In that moment I just give her a slight pop so that she keeps moving. After a while her little brain got so saturated with the car noises and movements that she just kept going. Great job Shelby – I am so proud of you! The ladies at the shelter were so happy to see Shelby and I was so happy that they saw the confidence and improvements in Shelby. Before I walked with her into the building, Sloan said to me, “when she walks out of the shelter like no big deal, then you know we did some good work.” And guess what happened? Shelby walked in the building calmly, in the building she sat when I told her to sit, she layed down when I told her to lay down, and when we walked out, she walked out of the building as if she had done it a thousand times. No breaking, no panic, just pure confidence. Iris Grimm
Today we were walking at the Kennesaw park. I had Shelby on the flexy leash and she really enjoys these walks. There was an older gentleman walking behind us for a quite a while bu then he caught up with us. We walked to the side so that he could pass us conveniently. While walking by us, he stopped and said to me, “Did you know that one of your dogs is limping?” I was surprised but at the same time didn’t know who he meant. “Who is it?”, I asked. And he answered seriously, “The little black dog”, and he pointed towards Shelby. Sloan and I smiled at each other and answered, “Yes, we do know. She has only three legs.” The gentleman really acted surprised and said, “I didn’t even notice that she only had 3 legs.” Wow, now that amazed me considering that he walked right behind Shelby and me. That really kept us laughing for the rest of the walk. Shelby had a good time during the walk. When I threw the ball for Cito, I kept her short on the leash, so that she wouldn’t try to reach for the ball. She turned out to be a really cute personality. The fear covered her personality up like a large bed of kudzu, as soon as the kudzu was lifted, a beautiful flower appeared.