Meet Eden! Our new dog (!!)

Yeah. Best Christmas ever: We totally got a puppy. (!!)

A week before Christmas, I got an e-mail from the rescue VP that made my heart skip a beat. She said she had the perfect puppy for us.

We had a crazy fall and early winter, and so we took a fostering hiatus. But I also wanted us to start thinking seriously about a second dog for our household, and I was really picky about this future dog’s personality. Cassie (the rescue VP) knew that I was looking for a “bombproof” young dog to balance out Pyrrha’s fear issues (see this great post by Nicole Wilde). She said that she’d only met one other puppy who was as solid as this one was, and she kept him for herself. This puppy had been surrendered by her family, who had young children and felt that they could not give her the attention she needed.

So, on a very rainy Sunday, I went to meet Cassie and pick up Eden!

Settling in nicely. #fosterpuppy #gsd
Eden!

We met at Petco, and I was instantly impressed by Eden’s confidence, friendliness, and utter lack of fear. From Pyrrha and our GSD experience so far, I’ve come to expect shyness from every German shepherd I see, and here was a little girl who didn’t have an ounce of it. She greeted everyone who walked in the door with wags and kisses.

Eden (fka Eva) was evaluated for police work when she was brought in, but failed the police test for not having high enough drive and being too friendly. Which is totally fine with me! But the evaluator did say that she thought Eden could be perfect for therapy work, owing to her strong orientation to people. I really thrilled to hear that; I’ve always dreamed of having a dog who could do therapy service, and Pyrrha certainly isn’t suited for it.

Sweet little Edie
Eden in the kitchen.

We still have two weeks to make everything official (the rescue’s policy of having a trial period) but… all signs point to this girl being THE ONE. Guion is always more level-headed than I am with puppies, and so I think it’s good that we have this period of being able to decide about her, but I think he’s also smitten with her.

Interactions with Pyrrha

Wrestling

Eden plays with Pyrrha very nicely, and Pyrrha treats her with a mix of joviality and crankiness (which is always her way with puppies; Pyrrha, despite only being 2, has some aspects of old lady grumpiness with the whippersnappers).

Girls

Rainy walk with the new foster puppy! #probablykeepingher #gsd #puppylove

They love romping together in the yard (and sometimes in the house), and I think Pyrrha will really warm to her. Edie is also good about respecting Pyrrha’s space (and Pyrrha is good about letting her know when she’s crossed the line). As with all of the other fosters we’ve had, I have to be conscientious about helping Pyrrha with her jealousy issues regarding me and other dogs, but she’s been good about keeping them in check. Her main tendency is to be the taskmaster/bullying older sibling with young’uns, which is a behavior I myself exhibited as a child, so I’m familiar with the signs. But Eden is very happy and forgiving of Pyrrha’s occasional grumpiness, and she thinks Pyrrha is a delight.

We took them on a 2-mile walk around town on Wednesday, and they were great together. Eden’s happiness and friendliness to everyone seemed to let Pyrrha loosen up. We’re still working patiently on Pyrrha’s leash reactivity issues toward other dogs, and Eden has already shown strong signs of being a great young role model for Pyr.

Settling in nicely
A respectful puppy.

Eden’s Background

From my research and from the existence of Eden’s pink papers, I’ve been able to determine that she came from a Maryland breeder and schutzhund competitor. Eden’s parents were both imported from Germany, and both are titled in schutzhund (her father holding a Sch3 title). Their hips and elbows both passed as “normal” by the German breeding standards, which was good to know. She does have more angulation than Pyrrha, which I hate, but she moves and runs solidly.

Studying Eden's movement

Getting a purebred rescue is always a gamble, so we’re lucky to know this much about Eden. (And can you believe that a puppy of this caliber was turned into a rescue?? It happens!) German shepherds are famous for their health issues, and this is a risk we knew about when we started looking at GSD rescues. We know nothing about Pyrrha’s parents, except that they were from the (weaker, unhealthier) American show/companion lines and not bred well (an unscrupulous backyard breeder who wanted to euthanize all of his dogs because he was tired of them). Despite this, Pyrrha is healthy, and we are blessed. We know more about Eden, but we also have high hopes for her healthy future as well.

Her Personality

Sweet little Edie

She is an absolute doll.

And she’s a funny, playful, floppy bundle of energy! Whew! She wants to play ALL DAY long. I’m really grateful for Pyrrha, who can wear her out in the backyard with games of tag and wrestling matches, because I can’t keep up!

Eden is both food AND toy motivated, which is fun to see, and she’s a very quick learner. This little brown-noser has learned to sit sweetly whenever she wants anything, because it’s clearly a strategy that’s been working well for her. She LOVES toys, and especially toys that she can fetch. She has a retrieving drive like a labrador! But she makes fetching fun for us humans too, because she’s already learned to drop the ball at your feet and wait in a sit or down position for you to throw it. I’m impressed.

We were tempted to keep Trina, our last foster, as you may recall, but I can already tell that Eden has confidence and soundness in ways that exceed little Trina. Trina was awesome, and she’s so happy in her new home, but seeing Eden is also a reminder that Trina wasn’t exactly what we were looking for.

SO. Still anxious to make it official, but I think she’s IT! I can’t believe we found her. We’re SO grateful to Cassie and to Southeast German Shepherd Rescue; what awesome, thoughtful, hard-working people. We’re so thrilled!

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

SIDE NOTE: DOGS PICKING UP UNWANTED BEHAVIORS?

With regard to Pyrrha’s progress, now is a good time to add another dog to the house. If we had tried to bring in a permanent new dog even six or eight months ago, I’m not sure that Pyrrha would have been ready for it. Pyrrha has gained enough confidence and made enough progress in her other fear areas (Guion, strangers, other dogs) that I think we’re at a point at which Eden can be a good influence on Pyrrha, instead of Pyrrha being a bad influence on Eden.

The main thing I don’t want Eden to pick up is Pyrrha’s leash reactivity toward other dogs. For those of you with multi-dog households that include a reactive dog, has this ever been a problem for you? (The reactive dog making the non-reactive dogs reactive.) If so, what have you done to mitigate such copying behavior?

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19 thoughts on “Meet Eden! Our new dog (!!)

  1. Wonderful.

    Poor Pyrrha. You can see the difference between them so well in that on-leash picture–Pyrrha looking away, ears back, Eden looking straight ahead with confidence.

    Sometimes it crosses my mind to get Silas a more confident dog-buddy, but since Silas is 1) the world’s most expensive dog and 2) *very* jealous of other dogs who get near me, it probably won’t happen.

    1. I have an almost 3 y/o female Ridgeback mix. I finally realized her barking and neck biting unfamiliar dogs was jealousy. Fortunately I have a PhD positive reinforcement only animal behaviorist here in Tucson. After describing Luna’s behavior Vanya Moreno PhD suggested Luna is resource guarding me and might need a Politeness Protocol. I laughed. Definitely.

      Just a thought for the future if you’d like to explore the concept.

  2. What exciting news! So glad the rescue was looking out for you so you could find Eden when she came in.

    You’re right to worry about Pyrrha’s reactivity influencing Eden. Eden’s confidence will probably help her. My only suggestion would be to walk both the dogs in Guion for a while so you can work with Pyrrha while Guion allows Eden to do her friendly, happy thing. Trying to get as many happy walks in as possible before a big reaction from Pyrrha will help you build on Eden’s already strong foundation.

    Hopefully Eden’s confidence will help Pyrrha. We had a very fearful foster dog who was really helped by Honey during thunderstorms.

  3. ASPCA Webinar Multi-Dog Households (Free but register) Jan 9th by Patricia McConnell
    http://www.aspcapro.org/webinar/2014-01-09/multi-dog-households

    Congratulations on adding Eden to your family!

    I don’t know if you have the time to watch this Webinar. It will be 1 hr 30 min. It is possible to watch after the original broadcast date. I hope the link works. If not cut and paste into your browser or search ASPCA Webinars. I see it says Professional. I’m not a professional. Neither is my friend who told me about them. When you register it gives you additional info on what your system needs to have to watch and the time so you can adjust it to your time zone.

    I love your Blog. When I read it I learn and I smile.

  4. This post has made my day. I love the name you’ve chosen and look forward to reading about your two dog life!

    I’ve been pondering a second dog, but also enjoying the exclusive relationship with Ruby. Fostering is on the radar in the near future, I think.

    My reactive Elkhound affected my perfectly socialized, well adjusted GSD/Chow mix Lasya only very slightly on their lifetime of walks together, and only if Freya was at her absolute worst Lasya would get a little unruly.

  5. This post warms my heart so much! What a beauty! I’m so happy for your family.

    We had a heartbreaking experience when we introduced Leo to Isis, and they didn’t get along at all, so I’m overjoyed to see pictures of Pyrrha and Eden playing together. That never happened with Isis and Leo. I’m sure Pyrrha’s experience with foster dogs has something to do with that!

    As for the puppy picking up unwanted behaviors, you might consider walking Eden separately whenever there’s a risk of seeing another dog on a leash. Treat her and praise her like crazy every time she sees another dog while on leash. (That’s what I plan to do with my next puppy and bicycles!)

    Congratulations!

  6. Oh yes! Küster was such a good boy in his crate and if he’s in the car going somewhere without Morgan, you would NEVER know he was there. He’s that quiet. But Morgan is not. She’s pretty much everything reactive and she barks like a hell hound. If they’re both in the car, he barks right along with her!

    When we wanted him to learn how to behave in public, we took him out with Bunny, because she behaves the way we wanted him to behave. We didn’t take him out and about with Miss Crazybritches until he was a lot more mature, and now he can be a good boy even if she’s having her moments. We didn’t leave it to chance though. We took him by himself or with Bunny until we had a strong idea that he knew what we expected.

  7. YAY! YAY! YAY! She’s gorgeous! I’m so happy that it worked out for you guys! Our experience was the opposite: We had our rock-solid, bomb-proof dog (Emmett) and adopted our reactive, fearful mess-of-a-dog (Lucas). However, it worked out in our favor because Emmett eventually helped Lucas become calmer (once the two of them were past the grumpy who-are-you stage). If Lucas was flipping out over, say, the TV being turned out, he’d see Emmett lounging quietly in his bed, then go to him for reassurance. More often than not, we found Lucas would hide behind Emmett when he became frightened. That helped immensely when we had to do super scary things like take Lucas to the vet, though it created additional problems because Lucas couldn’t be left without Emmett for the first 18 or so months without a total meltdown. Overall, though, Emmett’s presence helped Lucas feel calmer in many situations. I bet once Pyr and Eden are totally comfortable with each other, you’ll see some of the same type of influence! Can’t wait to follow the progress!

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