Cutter, GSRNE #306
We entered the local pet store and
he paused at the entrance to savor the many smells. He couldn’t believe
there were so many! Bunnies, reptiles, dog food, treats, other people’s
dogs’ scents; he just stood with his nose in the air, taking it all in.
So excited he could hardly contain himself, he began to wag while trying
to look and smell in every direction, head swiveling, as we walked
forward between a delightful aisle of smoked rawhide on one side and the
delectable odors of pet beds on the other.
We moved along, straight down the
center, pausing for good sniffs every few feet. After inspecting most of
the store, I began to encourage him towards our ultimate destination,
the dog food aisle. But the marketing people weren’t fools, and before
we got very far we had run a gamut of different kinds of toys in bins,
on shelves, and on hang clips conveniently sited at his head height. He
finally couldn’t help himself, sat down in front of a clip of cheap
plastic reproductions of Sponge Bob, and began to alternately lick them
and bark, excited over all the possibilities. By now he was dancing in
place, looking at me, back at the toys, back at me expectantly, woofing
quietly all the while. When we moved along the aisle, he stopped at the
next set of toys and started in all over again, adding whirling in
circles in case I hadn’t gotten the idea that these were really GOOD
Did I have a little puppy on the end
of that leash? Sounds it, doesn’t it? No, I had Cutter, GSRNE #306. He’s
8 years old, 100 lbs when in good weight, and we aren’t sure he’d ever
seen a toy until we got him last year. He came to us as a foster in
October 2009 after spending months in a shelter in NH after his owner
died. Cutter had issues about everything and default behaviors whenever
things didn’t go his way, tearing up crates when confined, as well as
chasing cats and chickens. He didn’t know how to walk on a lead and
would hit the end of it running with all his 100 lbs. The first few days
he was here, several times a day, he would panic, run into the bedroom
and climb on furniture to get to windows to try to claw his way out. We
began keeping him on a long line after losing a few lamps, whereupon he
would climb the furniture in the living room and claw at the solid
paneled wall. We finally figured out that the trigger for that behavior
was the noise of the refrigerator opening. We’ll never know what caused
that one! Most dogs think the fridge is the source of all goodness.
Cutter found it very hard to trust.
He couldn’t handle people touching him (think checking for ticks) or
looking directly at him (think training a dog to focus on you). It was
difficult dealing with him, but every now and then he’d look at me
hopefully, as though he wanted to be friends but didn’t know how. Or
he’d quietly move over to Glenn and lean up against him if he thought no
one was paying attention. The signs were visible – there was a good dog
in there. We tried to let him know he was safe and that we loved him,
but sometimes love isn’t enough for a frightened, independent minded GSD.
Cutter spent weeks tethered to me in
the house and on a 20 foot long line outside of it. Once, the second
week he was here, he flatly refused to go into the hated crate no
matter the inducement. I put his long line on, ran it through the wires
in the back of the crate, applied light pressure, and waited. Every time
the pressure of him pulling away eased up, even a touch, I’d praise him
and offer treats (which he was too stressed to take at that time). 45
minutes later, he was safely in the crate and I was exhausted.
Fast forward to the present (March
2011). After more than a year and a lot of training, the good dog inside
is coming out and he is such a very good boy. We don’t know if he
didn’t get much socialization or if his owner thought it was ok for him
to act like that, but we know he had a hard time trusting people. He was
always pretty sure if something good happened he would have to fight for
it to keep from losing it. When Cutter finally did begin to trust us,
things moved along quickly, and he now listens, sleeps where he is asked
without argument, goes to dog training class and interacts (mostly)
politely with the other dogs, and even allows chickens to roost on his
back (with a long-suffering expression on his face).
He continues to allow more and more
liberties; we groom and bathe him without argument now and can check for
ticks at will, all things that were not on his “ok to do” list when he
arrived. It had become clear after several months that he wouldn’t be a
good candidate to move on to yet another household, so we applied to
adopt him and were accepted. His training continues as does his large
contribution to our lives. He is a joy and a delight every day despite
the challenges he can still provide us with.
I’ve learned more from Cutter than I
have from any of the dozens of other dogs I’ve trained, fostered, or had
permanently. I’ve learned to have more patience than I thought was
possible for me, to enjoy and appreciate baby steps in improvement, and
to love unconditionally. Once trust is earned, German Shepherds already
know how to love like nobody’s business, and Cutter is no exception. He
just needed the structure, time, and love from us to let him show it.
Taking him to the pet store now is a gift because he is confident enough
to ask for things and has self-control enough to not just take them; he
can now show me how happy he is to be there. And yes, if he’s polite he
often does get a new toy while we are there.
We wouldn’t swap our “problem child”
for anything in the world.
Carol & Glenn Visser
Leo (was Micah), GSRNE #172
He is one of the 5 "M-litter" puppies we
In 2002 we lost our 7-year old Shepherd, Keisar, to Bloat which
affects many large breed dogs. I remember crying for months and
thinking I could never have a dog again. After about a year we
started thinking about getting another Shepherd. I talked to my
husband, and we both agreed to get another dog. My friend told me to
check out the German Shepherd Rescue website and I did. I called
them and was informed that we could not adopt a dog until our son
turned eight years old. We had to wait approximately two years. I
looked at the website at least 10 times a month.
years ago we were blessed with our dog, Leo, a/k/a Micah #172. He
came from Maine as did his sister Miya #179. (Editor's note:
Miya was adopted by Jeannie McMahon, a GSRNE Board member and
Volunteer Coordinator. Leo and Miya were both part of the 'M'
litter.) I often wonder if they met, would they know each other.
I remember when he came home, he was such a good puppy: potty
trained and loved his crate, thanks to his foster parents. Our son
named him Leo, and it fits him perfectly. Leo's left ear does not
stand up and that is how his name fits him. L (left) E (ear) O
(over). Leo is an extremely friendly dog who loves people,
long walks with his friend Sofia; a Yellow Lab, and hanging out in
his backyard. He loves to talk (bark) when he is in the yard; I
think he's talking to all the other animals in our area. He's always
on guard, walking around the perimeter of our property; he even
makes his rounds at night when we are sleeping.
Leo rules the humans in the house, but our two cats rule him. It's
so funny watching the cats take over, and they love being the boss
of Leo. Our one cat, Milo, will sleep on Leo's bed and when I tell
Leo to go lie down, he gives me the look; I go and see Milo sleeping
on Leo's bed. I think this is so funny; here you have a 100 lb dog
afraid of an 18 lb cat.
He still loves to sing when we play the harmonica. Leo loves people and
loves it when people come over. He has to smell them all and give
kisses. Leo loves attention, and you have to give it to him at all
times. He still has to inspect every bag that comes into our home. Leo
is very protective of the house when we are gone. When he meets dogs for
the first time he is very vocal, and at times when the other dogs are
misbehaving, Leo will correct them, and then he wants to be their best
friend. Leo has several dog friends; we take long walks with his friend,
Sofia. We can leave the house for five minutes or 10 hours, and he
is always so excited to see us when we return.
Leo is six now and you
would think he's one. He is so full of energy that when people see him,
they are amazed that he is six years old. Leo is smart also. He knows
when we are finished eating dinner. He will come out of the bedroom and
sit by the dining room table and give us the look, "Ok dinner is over;
it's my time". We can't say the word "walk". Yes, he knows what
that means too. He loves being outside and it does not matter if it's
five degrees or 100. Leo is the best dog, and we are so grateful to the
German Shepherd Rescue for giving him to us. A special thanks to Laurie
Keating for processing our adoption.
Robert, Zack and Melina Limardo
Sampson, GSRNE #310
Well, it's been almost five months since I've found my new home. I've
been pretty darn busy, but I thought I'd take a few minutes break from
my duties of squirrel watching and keeping track of my people to let all
my friends out there know how I'm doing.
I went to my new home on February 21, 2011. I have to admit, I'm much
more relaxed now and settled in, but those first few days I was pretty
darn anxious. My foster family was so good to me and took such good care
of me that it was pretty hard to leave. I even had to part from my good
pal, Blossom, a sweet German Shepherd girl whom I just loved to romp and
wrestle with everyday. I'm not bragging, but she was pretty bummed when
I left... just saying.
When my new family came to pick me up, I was nervous, confused, and
excited all at the same time. I was quite anxious during the long drive
to my new home, getting up every few minutes and whining. I even got to
show off my big voice when we stopped at a rest area, and I saw another
pal in the parking lot. Geez, I just wanted to say hi! I quieted down
once we got on the road again. My new dad tried to sing to me - to calm
me down I think. Singing lessons might be in order.
I finally settled down a bit and then... we arrived! I didn't know it
was my new house yet, but of course I had to explore everything
completely. Lots of new smells! At the same time, I had to keep my new
people in my sights at all times - not an easy task. My foster family
called me the "Velcro" dog and I think my new family understands why.
Ok, so I like to be around my people. I am a German Shepherd, you know.
Just doing my job.
That first week especially, my new crate really helped me relax and feel
safe. Luckily my foster family (they're so thoughtful!) sent along my
favorite bed, along with my favorite soccer ball. I had my familiar
smells mixed in with all the new ones. That first week was filled with
new smells and experiences. Lots of walks, of course - I may be seven,
but I'm still a very active guy! I'm also very social and everywhere I
go I like to meet new people and dog pals. I'm working hard on not
yelling when I meet pups on my walks but, geez, I just want to play. My
folks are very impressed with how I get along with people and dogs of
all shapes and sizes. I'm quite the gentleman. When it comes to
squirrels, however, all bets are off.
But soccer is my favorite pastime. Give me my favorite soccer ball, and
I will insist you come out to the backyard and play with me. If you let
me, I will play until I drop, so my folks have to call it quits when
they think I'm tired. (Personally, I think they just get tired and won't
admit it.) I have an endearing habit of dropping the soccer ball right
at their feet and just staring at it, willing them to feel guilty enough
to pick it up and throw it just one more time.
During those first weeks, I met lots of new people and went to all sorts
of new places. I got to go along one day to visit friends for brunch at
their house. I was very well behaved. There were all sorts of people,
including very little ones, who all loved me, of course. One liked to
touch my ears gently and then run away screaming! I had a great time.
As time went on, I was getting more and more relaxed. I could even be by
myself sometimes, although when my folks came back I would let them know
pretty loudly that I was displeased. I can be a bit vocal sometimes with
my barking and whining (I call it singing). I'm working on vocalizing
my displeasure a bit more quietly and for a much shorter time frame. The
sacrifices a pup has to make. It's a tough life.
When my folks returned to work from vacation, I had to get used to being
by myself for a little bit most days. I got introduced to my new pal,
Pam, who stops by in the middle of the day when my folks are at work to
walk and play with me. I really enjoy her visits! I'm even getting
better at not barking too much when she comes to see me. My folks say
that when I get a bit quieter, I can come to work with them sometimes.
It's tough, but it gives me something to work for. You know us
shepherds. We love to work!
Over the next weeks and months, I got more
and more relaxed and settled in. I still miss my pal Blossom and my
foster family, but I hope to go back to visit and resume our friendly
wrestling matches soon. Blossom might even come and visit me and I can
show off my new digs (no pun intended...really, I don't dig!).
Now, life is great. I love to go on my walks with my folks around town
and in the woods nearby. Around town, everybody says hi to me and pets
me. I get lots of attention. The guys at the gas station at the corner
always have biscuits ready for me. Little kids stop to pet me and admire
my beautiful coat. My tail muscles get a good workout from all that
Recently, I had two chances to see a whole bunch of my friends and
well-wishers at German Shepherd Rescue. I went to the Auction where, I
have to admit, I got a little full of myself showing off for the crowd.
I felt a little embarrassed when I met the nice man whose car seat I
chewed up when I first came to GSRNE! I was a bit anxious way back then.
Trust me; I gave up that kind of thing. I think he accepted my apology.
It's amazing what a lick and a tail wag will do.
I also got to go to the annual GSRNE Picnic where I met loads more of my
friends - both the human and canine variety. My folks were pretty
impressed with how well I handled myself around all those dogs. I've
come a long way. A little barking and that was that. Maybe I will be
able to go into work with my folks sooner than I thought!
My pop's a fourth-grade teacher, and I finally got to meet some of his
students at the end of the school year recently. They loved me of
course! I also made a very good impression on the principal so hopefully
I can visit them next year as well! I've spent some time at my mom's
work also, and I'm getting better and better there as well. That's good,
because I love spending lots of time with my people, and they love
spending it with me, naturally.
So there you have it. Life is pretty darn good now, thanks to GSRNE.
When I first came to them, I was in pretty rough shape. They fixed me
up, put me with an amazing foster family, and now I finally have a
family and a home of my own! Hopefully, you will be able to see from the
expression on my face in the pictures I'm sending along how thankful I
am to everyone involved with GSRNE. I am one happy pup. Thanks! My folks
say they are pretty darn happy as well and feel pretty lucky to have
found me. Thanks from them as well!
See you all soon!
Luke, GSRNE #298
July 10th marked the one year anniversary of
our adopting Luke and we wanted to give everyone an update on how he is
doing. To put it plainly, Luke is just a great dog. Over the past year
he has thrived in his new environment and has become a cherished member
of our family. As time has passed his true personality has steadily
shone through, and today he is the happy, confident boy we all thought
he could be when we first met him.
A vital part of keeping Luke on the right path after his
rescue was enrolling him in obedience school after we adopted him. It
was an eight week course that covered all essential commands as well as
leash training. It was a great opportunity to reinforce the training
Luke received from GSRNE, as well as to further his socialization with
other dogs. He responded very well to the exercises and was praised by
the instructor on multiple occasions (no small feat considering the
stern disposition of the instructor!).
Outside of the classroom we have done our best to
keep Luke on a daily schedule consisting of feedings, rest, and lots of
exercise. We discovered soon after taking Luke home that he is the
ultimate beach bum, and we've spent many a Saturday and Sunday playing
and exploring in the sand and surf. Once we tire him out, he's very
content to dig a hole in a shaded area and nap while listening to the
Last fall we found a dog park nearby that Luke thoroughly
enjoys. It is not a traditional fenced in area, but a system of trails
that circle a large lake. It gives him plenty of opportunity to explore
the woods, play with other dogs, and cool off in the water.
During the week Luke enjoys neighborhood jogs in the
morning and playing backyard fetch in the evening. By the end of the day
he is usually worn out and it is pretty comical to watch him put himself
to bed on a night when we lose track of time while watching TV. He looks
up at us as if to say, "Don't you know what time it is?", and then gets
up and puts himself in his crate. Needless to say he has become a
creature of habit, and it definitely suits him.
On April 3rd we celebrated the birth of our
first child, Jack. When we first found out that Erin was pregnant, we
were a bit nervous about how such a major change would affect Luke. We
researched methods to prepare dogs for the arrival of a newborn and
spent several months working with him in various ways in order to make
the transition as easy as possible. We strove to
minimize any changes in Luke's normal routine. The end result has been
incredibly successful. Luke has been wonderful with Jack and has shown
no jealousy, aggression or animosity toward him. In the beginning we
kept their introductions brief, but over time we've been able to allow
longer interactions. Luke enjoys giving Jack a quick sniff followed by a
lick or two, and he sees it as his duty to lie close by anytime the baby
is on a play matt or in his ExerSaucer. It will be interesting to see
how he reacts when Jack begins crawling!