Friday, December 21, 2007


Let me introduce you to Max. He's 85lbs of legs with a head the size of Hoover ball. A tongue that hangs to the floor and a whine that goes right through you. Max is a German Shepherd. We adopted him about 3 years ago from Mississippi Valley German Shepherd Dog Rescue based in IL. Interesting that for a rescue dog, they could actually trace him back to the backyard breeder and found out that he's from Czech stock. You can see it in his head. Goodness and it's a hard one too. It's at just the right height to see onto the counter, yet too tall to go smoothly under the dining room table. He has managed to clothesline himself several times, corgis go right under the table and he forgets to duck. I constantly am putting furniture back in it's place after he races through the house. So big and leggy that he can't always make the corners. Corgis have one up on him there. But to watch him glide across the backyard or field, he should have been in the show ring. Out moves every single GSD in the ring these days. He's just a pretty looking dog.

Now you have to be asking, why do I have a big lunky shepherd with all the other assorted misfits in the house and why did I get him from a rescue. Pretty easy actually. To keep us humble.

As breeders and dog fanciers go, we have a tendancy to forgot about the common dog. Not all of us had a expensive purebred dog as our first pet. Many of us fell in love with the neighbor's mutt or the farm dog that lived in the barn. David and I both grew up with German Shepherds. The intelligance, the loyalty and the down right stubborn attitude that they had when they wanted something. Due to a space issue, we turned our tastes to those little foxy faced corgis, finally settling down with the cardigans. Of course I have the collies too, a fond reminder of Georgie who I also had growing up. But back to Max and being humble. A person a long time ago said something that I try to keep in my thinking as I go through my life with dogs. Least we get too high on our pedestal, we should always have a rescue in my house.

When we moved out to the farm, it was time for a big dog again. Yes the collies are big dogs, but hello-everyone looks at them and says Lassie and how can you not love Lassie? The cardigans, again, cute little dogs that you just don't take seriously. David and I talked, I asked him a few questions. Of course I know several show breeders, we can get a dog from one of them. Do you want to do conformation? Obedience? Agility? David's response is that he wants a nice companion, with the potential to do a lot of different things, but nothing fancy. It was then that we decided it was time for another dose of humble pie and that's where Max came into play.

Max and I have a relationship that usually borders on just co-exisiting. He is totally David's dog, as most shepherds are-one person dogs. But we respect each other and for the most part he is a very good dog. Makes people think twice before they come to the house-the bark, the jumping the grumbling. Robbers take note-it's all a show. He just can't wait to greet you and have you pet him. But that's what we wanted. A big dog prescence that people take notice of. He gets along with all the other dogs, plays rough with the collies, they ask for it. Gentle with the corgis and he is actually very good with puppies considering his large size. Not a mean bone in his body, considering the horror stories I have heard about some of the dogs out of show lines-unpredicatable temperments.

I lost Max this last summer for a heart wrenching 48 hour period. David was out west for work and we were having terrible storms. I had let several of the dogs out in the front yard, just after a storm had passed. Max is the typical shepherd, hates storms and with David gone, it only made it worse. I checked on them, went inside, came back out 5 mins later and he was gone! Totally gone. I figure the storm, nerves and several collies playing chase, he went over the fence. Talk about panic. Posters, walking the roads, calling everyone I know. 48 hours to the minute I noticed him missing, he was back in the yard. Little skinner, little wet(storms again) and very happy to see me and I him. Since that point, Max has a had little more respect for me and I him.

Now to MVGSDR and rescues in general. As a show breeder, and you may notice this saying on the website-If you don't rescue Don't breed. It's true. Unless you can help out dogs in need that have breeders that don't care, you don't need to produce any additional dogs. Helping out rescue keeps you humble. Adopting from a rescue is even better. You help a dog in need, you get to prove to the world that that dog is worthwhile and you gain so many new friends. Downside is yes, you lack history on a dog. In adopting you knowingly take on that responsiblity that your dog has unknown issues.

What I find interesting is that there are breeders out there that, only out of the need to make themselves seem better then the rest, go out a spend a fortune on a companion dog from a well known breeder and proceed to flaunt all the wonderful attirbutes of the dog's breeding. All the while the dog sits at home, never leaves their property, they never take it to training classes or socialize the dog, all the things that they require puppy buyers to agree to do with a dog that they purchase from them. Ironic isn't it?

Yes Max gives you a dose of humble pie. He's not allowed on the furniture-he takes up the whole couch and he can't fit in the chairs. He does get to lay by the shower as David gets ready in the morning and he can't wait to get through that fence and tell those darn ducks to quit laughing at him. Oh and herding lessons, now there's another story, needless to say, Max doesn't take lessons anymore, too hard on the humans.

Humble pie-have a slice once in a while, it does a person good.


No comments: