GSRNE #323
Adopted on January 13, 2012

My family (husband, 12 year-old son and 9.5 year-old daughter) and I, adopted Eli one year ago. During this time he has become an integral part of our family. But let me back up and tell you a bit of our story. At the time we first met Eli he was nearly 7 months old. We were all struck with his beauty and size of his enormous ears. After spending some time with him, it was clear how intelligent he was and how eager to play and to please his foster mom. But he is so much more. When Eli came to live with us, he had a number of fears and was rather un-socialized. Although his foster family made great strides with him and helped him heal from his broken rear leg, he still had much to learn and experience. He was afraid of the dark, cars, trucks, motorcycles, horns, baby strollers, bicycles, scooters, joggers, skateboards, trash barrels, recycling containers, flags and outdoor decorations of any sort. He was very wary of adults, especially bearded men. He pulled like a freight train on leash and barked like a deranged animal at other dogs on our walks.

But the one thing that was clear from the beginning was his love for children. Not only is Eli terrific with my two children, who love him to pieces, but he is loving and patient with all the children who come to our house, who we meet at the little league baseball field, who we meet walking to school and into town. Now that he has learned some very nice manners, he is able to sit calmly while they pet him all over and he accepts treats very gently. It always makes me chuckle when the very little ones, who are face to face with him get a big slurp up the side of the cheek or right smack dab in the center of the nose! My children play with him in every capacity; of course all three love to play ball, chase (with both human and canine getting a turn to be the chaser and the chased party), search & rescue, “rabies”, swimming in the pool, beginning agility competition training, tug, obedience training, teaching tricks, dress-up, lots of snuggles and animal vet.

This latest game involves my daughter (who has wanted to be a veterinarian since she was 3) giving Eli a check-up. And let me tell you, she is very thorough. She checks his ears, inside his mouth-touches teeth and wiggles the tip of his tongue, she moves his jiggley jowls, she checks his legs, in-between his toes and the little hiding place in the bottom of his paw between the big pad and toes. She handles his tail and rolls him onto his belly, feels his pointy chest bone. He takes this all in stride, being very patient with her …all this with him being a young, energetic dog himself! When he’s had enough, he gets up gives a little energetic bark, goes into play bow position and then is off running, often with a stolen stethoscope or shoe.

So, during the situations when he has been a challenge, I have always thought to myself, if he can be so patient with the kids, he can conquer this fear, this problem, this issue. He has grown so much in a year. He has graduated through two obedience classes, passed his CGC at 16 months and worked hard through two 6 week sessions with GSRNE’s Mary Farren. He has learned most of his commands with ease. “Come”, presented the biggest challenge, although when rewarded with a piece of deli meat, not only did he “come”, he came at top speed! He knows some fun tricks; speak, spin, kayak (hopping into our kayaks), arm (he stands on his hind legs and places his front paws on your outstretched arm), and crawl. The kids have taught him to run through a basic agility course, with jumps, weave polls, tunnel and pause box. Eli has been going to a wonderful doggie daycare facility two days a week for dog socialization. At the beginning, he was very uncomfortable with all those dogs but after a couple weeks he began to relax and now loves going. He seems to know which days he goes and is waiting for my husband to take him in the morning. Eli now walks by our side very nicely on our daily walks. He is still tempted by the squirrels and chipmunks, but a firm “leave it” is all he needs to be back on track. He is no longer afraid of all those things/ situations I mentioned above. Eli is still wary of some adults and continues to be dog reactive when on leash but we will continue to work hard with Eli and I know next year at this time, he will have overcome these issues as well. Eli is the most affectionate dog I’ve ever owned and he has captured all four of our hearts. We cannot imagine our home without him and will be forever grateful to GSRNE for bringing this lovely, furry boy into our lives and allowing us to raise him.


GSRNE #209
Adopted on June 9, 2007

Dec. 2007 – Here’s a picture of Zeus waiting for Santa. He knows there will be something under the tree for him.

I am a firm believer that things happen for a reason in life. So it was, on June the 9th, 2007, we made the decision to adopt the newest member of our family, ZEUS. He was a perfect match from the beginning. He came at the right time in our lives. We had recently lost our beloved TIFFANI, another German Shepherd, that was in our family for 14 years. Zeus arrived in our family and fit in right away. It was like he lived here all his life. His eyes showed his approval of being here and you could tell he somehow sensed that my wife and I were grieving a bigger loss less than two years ago. If anyone ever guessed animals have a spirit, I am here to tell you they do I believe they are like humans and have souls as well. I further believe in eternal life with our pets. I honestly hope to see them all. I know Zeus won’t let me down and will be there.

So, what makes our spoiled German Shepherd so special? Besides, being an inspiration in our life, so full of energy and loyalty, he is our loyal companion and child. Is he a bit spoiled? Um, ahem, yes, indeed he is, but he knows who’s in charge and behaves himself. He’s the star of the neighborhood, never missing his walks during any day. If the weather is bad, we dress appropriately. He loves other animals and children and when he sees children playing, he wants to run with them and play ball as well. He meets other animals on his walks throughout the neighborhood and although he’s always on a lead, he pounces his feet with his rear high up the air, showing he wants to play. He is well behaved on a lead and in our house. He loves to be close to us and snuggle. He’s a very affectionate boy and most times, you can see him smile. His teeth get brushed and his coat gets groomed and he enjoys the attention. He believes he should sleep on the end of the bed and sometimes we allow it and other times we won’t. When we say “DOWN,” he will immediately get down. He loves his Kong Balls and all of his toys. Recently, I walked him up to the local Pet Store and let him choose his own non-destructive toy. He made a good choice and walked in and out like he owned the joint. He loves to sit by the window, looking out with his nose on the window ledge, waiting for me or my wife to get home from work. He just loves the family being together. He also loves company coming over. He gets along well with my grandchildren and is always a gentleman. He loves riding in the car and does an inspection of my car, as we go out the door for our walk, to make sure I haven’t cheated on him.

Zeus is probably our 10th dog since we have been married. He has already won a special place in our hearts as one of the top animals of all times. Being familiar with German Shepherds, Zeus showed us immediately what he was made of. He solidified our decision to choose another German Shepherd. Yes, we thought of a Goldie, even a Lab, but how do you not go back to the most wonderful, loyal, noble breed of dogs? He won our hearts quickly and does things daily to impress us.

Thank you GSRNE for allowing us the opportunity to have this wonderful animal as part of our family. As you can see, he has put on a few pounds but he does not get table scraps and just a few small cookies a day. He exercises regularly and is extremely agile and fit. He gets a teaspoon of safflower oil with his dinner to keep his coat nice and soft.

To all of you that trusted us with this wonderful soul, we thank you from the very bottom of our hearts and wish everyone a very special Holiday.

Our love to you all,

Glenn & Patricia Catania

GSRNE #138
Adopted in January 2003

Chance is doing AWESOME ! She’s really blossomed, very sure of herself now, loves to play…her favorite is ‘tug of war” with her squeak toys, she’s a real snow dog and loves running through the drifts, rolling around in the snow, and sticking her face in it.

She’s also turned into a great traveler. We took her with us for Thanksgiving at my brother in law’s home in the White Mountains…they had a dozen or so people over, she behaved as a real lady, impeccable house manners, made friends with everyone ! We also took her with us to Portsmouth for Christmas with our children and grandchildren….she loves to give the grandchildren big wet kisses.

Chance is a real joy, we can’t thank you enough for putting us together with her ! I can’t believe its only been two years, it seems like she’s been with us forever. BTW….no problem at all with her hip ! Watching her, you’d never know she had a problem

Here’s a couple of pictures of Chance. I had hoped to get some of her walking, or at least standing, because she has such beautiful lines. She’s almost breathtakingly beautiful when she’s in “alert” (actually “huntress”, like when she sees a squirrel…) mode…ears up, tail up, head up…totally focused. Unfortunately though, I took these right after we got back from a long walk in this great spring-like weather and she just wanted to plop down in the snow. Next time I’ll take them before we go!

I forgot to tell you, one of the most endearing traits Chance has developed is saying goodnight to us. Of course she sleeps in our bedroom, and her nightly ritual is first to go to Denise’s side of the bed and then mine for a few minutes of petting. Then she walks over to her bed and goes to sleep for the night.

Chance before

Chance today

GSRNE #158
Adopted on January 8, 2004

I have loved and owned German Shepherd Dogs for many years, and when the last of my lines died before Christmas, I was heartbroken and devastated. Then GSRNE gave me a beautiful 10 yr. old male “fuzzy bear” with the name, Phoenix.

Phoenix is truly my gift. He loves and enjoys every minute of the day, from chasing squirrels & chipmunks in the yard, getting belly scratches, vacuuming crumbs off the floor, playing keep away, to going for rides in the car. I now must spell that word, “r.i.d.e”.

There is not a person in this world that he doesn’t like or want to greet and few that don’t love him back. I fell in love with him the first time I saw him. His beautiful brown, loving eyes warm my heart, start my day, and ease me to sleep at night. I have had shepherds for over 30 years and he is unique in the joy he has for life. Each day is an adventure experienced with a wag of the tail and a “let’s go!” attitude. He loves to sit in the back of my van when we get home from our “r.i.d.e.s” and watch the world go by especially when the kids on the street are playing. He loves every minute of every day.

He went to Therapy Dog class and immediately won the hearts of his teachers. After getting his certificate and his jacket, we signed up for nursing home duty. Now he’s in 7th heaven when we go through those doors. I am amazed at his intuitiveness about these elderly people. If the patients are active and alert, he is happy and excited. If the ladies are more fragile, he immediately becomes very quiet and just puts his head in their hands. They love him and remark about his big feet.

Phoenix had his little quirk – didn’t particularly like other dogs, especially big ones. But he has been working hard in obedience classes and got his Canine Good Citizen Certificate last week. He now can greet other dogs and behave like the gentleman he is.

I am retired now so we have the whole day explore and enjoy life together. To the family that had to give up this dog, I thank you for sharing him with me. He is my “forever” dog.

GSRNE #143
Adopted in May 2003

Heidi lived her first 10 years with her former mom, who adored her. But she became ill and kept Heidi kenneled outside for the last couple of years. That evidently included some time out in the bitter cold – her ear tips looked like they were recovering from some frostbite when we first saw her.

Heidi was the only dog we interviewed through GSRNE and it was clear to us at our first visit that she was an exact fit for us. We sought a dog with a calm, sensitive personality that we could make a deep connection to. After just a short time at home with us, we knew that’s what we had.

Heidi has big, honest eyes that communicate exactly what she’s feeling. She has a shiny, silky coat with coloring that draws praise from a passers-by. Despite her years, she is spry and fit with only some gray on her muzzle to betray her age.

Early on, we took her to obedience class. She was the oldest student there. She was clueless at first, quite rusty with most obedience concepts. But her memory was quickly refreshed and by the final session, was the star pupil.

Heidi’s favorite thing is food. She has a keen appetite and scarfs down her meals as fast as we put the kibble in her bowl. She obeys any sequence of commands to get a treat, too.

Her second favorite thing is going for a walk. We walk a couple of miles together every morning and evening. She eagerly waits at the door waiting for us to get ready. On cold, icy nights, there is a lot of gear involved. We install booties on her feet and clip on her leash. Then we don our winter wear plus flashlight, reflective vest, radio headset and a poop bag stuffed in a pocket. Once we finally step out, Heidi holds her tail high and her snout low, leading the way from one olfactory interest to the next.

Among Heidi’s least favorite things is a car ride. She hasn’t the stomach for it. A ride on a full stomach is a sure way to empty it. With this in mind, she is reluctant to climb into the back seat for a trip. But with an adjusted meal schedule and some Dramamine, she has accompanied us on a number of adventures. She has set paw at sea level on the beach and far above at the top of Mt. Washington.

Heidi sleeps next to our bed on her cushion. If we stay up too late, she’ll be the first to bed. If we don’t come to join her soon, she comes back out to remind us that it’s time to sleep. She sleeps soundly all night and usually wakes up at first light to go outside. If we go back to snooze after she comes in, she waits patiently for a short time, then she begins to prod us to get up for breakfast. She starts out with some soft whines and, if we don’t rise, she builds to a delightful series of yodels.

She enjoys playing with her toys. She keeps them all in a basket. When the mood strikes, she goes to the basket and rummages around for the right one. She loves to entertain herself with her squeaky plush toy, tossing it into the air and across the room. Her tennis ball is also one of her favorites, which she likes to bounce on the floor or bring over for a toss – or trade for a nice belly or butt rub.

Heidi has a tender, sweet soul. We are deeply in love with her.

GSRNE #130
Adopted on July 29, 2002

I adopted Wren in August and it was HOT! Wren decided she liked her air conditioned rooms and would only go out quickly and then wanted back into the lovely cool air. She loves the air-conditioned rooms and I love to spoil her. Wren and I go out for our walks every night, play in doors with her toys and we go for coffee at night. She just loves to go for rides.

Wren and my dad are getting along so well! Dad loves to have her around…he calls her his own alarm system for she tells us when someone comes to the door or parks at our house. He has a great relationship with her now and Wren loves him right back.

Having Wren at my home has been some of the happiest days I have had in a long time; we love each other so much. It feels like we raised her from a pup she has taken to us so quickly. I did not expect this to happen so fast! Wren is so smart and now she is starting to talk to me; its so funny.

I had a great time with Wren for her first Christmas at her now home. She continues to be happy with me and I with her. Thanks again for Wren, she is the best thing to happen to me in years.

GSRNE #298
Adopted on July 10, 2010

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 waves.

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!

GSRNE #310
Adopted on February 21, 2011 

Dear Friends at GSRNE,

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 wagging.

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!


Leo (was Micah)
GSRNE #172
Adopted in February 2005

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.

Six years ago we were blessed with our dog, Leo (aka 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


GSRNE #306
Adopted on September 20, 2010

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 toys, mom!

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.

Rally Obedience is BIG fun!

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).

The cat issue has been resolved. (unless they are running, outdoors – cats shouldn’t run if they don’t want to be chased, says Cutter).

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

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