Level of sagacity

Marlon Brando with family dog, Illinois, early 1950s.
Marlon Brando with a family dog in Illinois, early 1950s.

“The dog has seldom been successful in pulling man up to its level of sagacity, but man has frequently dragged the dog down to his.”

— James Thurber

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

How sage is your dog? I’d say that Pyrrha has a fair level of internal sagacity, but Eden’s sagacity levels likely dip around zero. I saw a post somewhere this past week arguing that German shepherds, especially working-line GSDs, have the most hellish adolescent periods of maybe any other breed. I BELIEVE IT. Although I’d put my money on a malinois or a kelpie… But yeah. I sometimes feel like Eden is never going to grow up and is going to live out the rest of her life keeping us in a state of terror.

Speaking of Eden, I’m in a middling state of panic about her health and how underweight she is. But I need to be patient and wait to see how she reacts to these antibiotic/probiotic treatments. It feels hard to keep calm.

(Sidenote: Whew, young Marlon Brando. What a beautiful asshole. I still feel so good about naming our first foster Brando. It fit him perfectly, and his new family decided to keep the name!)

Any fun weekend plans? We are on hands and knees, prayerfully begging for SPRING! And for the yard to dry up, at least for a few days… Have mercy on us!

Things I’ve learned from fostering so far

We’ve only been fostering for two-and-a-half weeks now, but we have already learned so much!

Trifecta of shepherd protection
Trifecta of shepherd protection: Vera (adoptable pup), Pyrrha, and Brando (former foster)

A few of the fostering lessons we’ve learned:

  • Personality will probably shift over time. I thought Brando was a WILD MAN on the first day–and he was. He was so stressed out. I never thought we’d be able to let him indoors. But after a week, he’d settled down and he turned out to be quite a mellow dude. Likewise, Laszlo was fairly shut down for the first few days, but now he is all energy and play.
  • Baby gates are a lifesaver. The ability to separate the dogs when needed and the ability to keep them in a small space has been an excellent tool. Even though Pyrrha and Brando both could have jumped our baby gate if they wanted to, they respected the barrier. I also keep Laszlo in the kitchen with me while I’m eating or cooking; he can never be too far away from my sight.
  • Our small house has actually been beneficial. Although, yes, having two full-grown German shepherds in a 830-square-foot home is overwhelming, it’s actually been something of an advantage. Brando could never be too far out of our sight! (Cooking in our tiny galley kitchen with both dogs underfoot is another story, though…)
  • Crates are the best! I love crates. Brando didn’t love crates, but he gradually got used to them. I don’t know how people foster without them! We could leave for a few hours at a time without worrying that he was getting into something, going on the floor, etc. (I’m just praying now that we don’t get one of those Houdini GSDs who are able to get out of crates at will. Pyrrha has a touch of that ability–she has sprung herself out once for a gastrointestinal emergency–but thankfully she stays put 99% of the time.) Laszlo seems to have adapted to the crate as well. He still cries a little bit when we put him in there, but he has now been accident-free for four days (knock on wood!) and has been sleeping through the night (thank God).
  • Pyrrha loves having another dog around. Even though Brando would get tired of her, she never seemed to get tired of him! She was like a silly kid with him. Like a silly kid, she would occasionally get petulant and sassy, but she was always THRILLED to see Brando every morning. Very sweet. She also liked to follow him around and copy whatever he was doing, which was good news for Guion, because he got an extra dose of cuddliness from her when Brando was around. While she isn’t so thrilled with Laszlo, the two do have moments of affection.
  • Don’t underestimate the value of routines. Dogs love routines. Especially nervous dogs. Having a set schedule every day has helped our fosters relax and recuperate during their transition period. These dogs have, for the most part, had fairly rough lives thus far. Being able to count on a consistent daily routine helps them settle down and into the family life. This is the prime advantage of fostering, after all: Helping a dog (who has likely had a rough start) acclimate to life with humans.

Obviously, we still have a lot to learn, but it has been a fun journey so far!

Tomorrow, I am taking Laszlo to an adoption event with the rescue. I am sure he will garner lots of attention, being the adorable puppy and all. Here’s to hoping he finds his forever home soon!

Last day with Brando (and meeting Vera)

Our last day with Brando was a whirlwind of dog-transporting activity!

In the middle of the day, I picked up this little lady at Petco:

Sweet Vera

Isn’t she a doll? Vera is a young (11-12 week-old?) pup who is up for adoption through the rescue. She seems to be mostly German shepherd, and she has a TON of personality! Vera is a very confident, vocal, and outgoing puppy. I have no doubt that she will be adopted in a heartbeat!

Baby Vera!

Later that day, Vera needed to be transported, along with Brando, to be taken to their new homes. Vera was going to her foster and Brando would be moving up to his new foster home in the northern part of the state.

Brando and Vera

Brando and Vera

Brando turned out to be very fascinated with Vera. He was a little rough with her at first, but gradually, the three dogs settled down in the yard.

Three dogs

Pyrrha and Vera

Trifecta of shepherd protection

Brando, we will miss you, dude!

Last day with Brando

All best luck to him at his new foster home. Here’s to hoping that he finds his forever home soon.

Coming soon: An introduction to our new foster, who was also received on that crazy Friday!

Brando update

Poor ol’ Brando got neutered yesterday, so he’s still really out of it.

Dazed and confused: Brando post neuter

When he got home, he stumbled around the house and would freeze for minutes at a time, just staring at nothing. Sweet dude!

Dazed and confused: Brando post neuter

This morning, he was livelier, although still weak in the back end.

Dazed and confused: Brando post neuter
Couldn’t keep his little tongue in his mouth… so cute.

On the flipside, an unexpected advantage of the presence of an affectionate foster has made this little lady more attentive to her human dad:

Leaning on Guion

Leaning on Guion

But here’s the UPDATE:

Brando is moving to another foster home this weekend. Cue big sad face.

Why? Because the rescue organization needs us to foster a puppy right now, and we are one of the foster homes with a more flexible schedule (e.g., able to come home in the middle of the day).

We are very sad to not continue being a foster home for Brando, but we are also confident that he will be adopted in no time at all.

Dazed and confused: Brando post neuter

We will miss you, Brando!

Updates to come on our NEW foster, who sounds like he’s a feisty little puppy!

If you are interested in adoption Brando, fill out an application at Southeast German Shepherd Rescue!

Update to German shepherd markings post

Play-date with Ozzie
Ozzie and Pyrrha, August 2012.

Since it seems to be my most popular post, I updated my Primer on German Shepherd Markings.

Photos and descriptions have been updated, and almost all of the dogs featured are dogs that were adopted through Southeast German Shepherd Rescue, which is pretty cool. The rescue seems to have spanned the whole range of shepherd coats, colors, and types.

I think many people don’t know that shepherds can come in so many varieties. I didn’t myself until I started researching the breed! Most people immediately identify Pyrrha as a GSD, because she has such a traditional coat pattern, but even when walking Brando next to her, people didn’t seem sure that he was also a GSD. It’s fun to me to learn about the wide spectrum of coats within this one breed.

Does your dog have a surprising coat pattern? Do people often mistake him or her for another breed?

Meet Brando: Our first foster

Friday evening, we welcomed our first foster: Brando!

Brando indoors

And he is a BIG boy! Isn’t he handsome? He was supposed to be called “Brandon,” but I rechristened him Brando, as in Marlon Brando, because they both share good looks and brawny presence.

Brando indoors

He came to us with tons of powerful, nervous energy and a pretty overwhelming shelter stink.

My first thought, upon meeting him, was: “OMG. We cannot handle this dog.”

He was so powerful and SO anxious; I couldn’t even imagine letting him come indoors. When we did come inside, he jumped up on everything, whined, cried, raced from room to room… clearly so stressed out.

But after some more time outside, and some relegating to certain parts of the house (thank God for baby gates!), he seemed able to finally calm down indoors. He still paces quite a bit and whines when something in the environment changes, but I think he has the potential to be a great house dog.

Brando in the Jeep

As far as his background, we don’t really know much at all. He was found on someone’s back deck in the country, and that person took him to the local animal shelter. Southeast German Shepherd Rescue got wind of it and decided to bring him in. The shelter says he’s 6, but I feel like he’s younger than that. His energy level alone would lead me to guess 3 or 4. His teeth also don’t look that bad, although some of the front ones seem rather ground down. My best guess is that he did have a family at some point, although I’m not entirely convinced that he’s ever lived indoors before.

Despite a poor introduction to Pyrrha (he came charging out of the car, and his transporter could not stop him from rushing straight up to Pyrrha), the two of them have gotten along quite nicely.

Here are some photos of them during a water break on the first day they were introduced:

Sharing the water bowl

They are both FILTHY from the mud in the backyard (all of that snow finally melted and turned the yard into a swamp).

Sharing the water bowl

They have continued to live together peaceably, which was a great relief. Pyrrha seems delighted to have a playmate, even though I think she will look forward to Wednesday, when he gets neutered (there has been a lot of humping). The only issue is that she likes to start things with him, and then when he fights back, she cries and gets irritated. She’s a big diva, essentially. But he is rather even-keel about her and seems willing to romp and play.

On Saturday, we took him to the local self-serve grooming salon for a much-needed bath! I can’t even describe what he smelled like. It was so horrible.

Brando's first bath

The bath clearly made him anxious, but he was such a good sport about it. He only cried for a little bit and then finally habituated to the experience. We gave him lots of praise and treats!

Post-bath Brando

(Above, Brando post-bath. See how happy and shiny he is!)

Another fun personality trait of Brando’s is that he loves Guion. This, obviously, delights Guion, who has put up with playing second fiddle to me in Pyrrha’s love hierarchy.

Brando indoors

Brando is friendly to me, but he doesn’t seem overly thrilled that I exist. If Guion enters the room–or, heaven forbid, exits it–Brando flips out. It’s kind of cute, and Guion, of course, LOVES the attention and affection. I often walk into the living room and find Brando sleeping on Guion’s feet. Precious.

Brando indoors
These dudes are going to have a hard time parting with one another.

This behavior naturally makes me wonder if Brando was formerly loved and cared for by a man. It would make sense to me.

Brando is fairly vocal and doesn’t like being left alone. Aside from his lack of training and unruliness, this would be his only other fault–that we can tell so far! I doubt he’s ever been crate trained, so we’ve been trying to make the crate a happy place for him, despite the fact that he cries and cries whenever we put him in there.

I’ve been feeding him his meals in his crate, and we give him treats when he’s in there. He’s learning to tolerate it. I was pleased yesterday afternoon to see him finally settle down in there and take a nap.

Post-bath Brando

Yesterday, we took the dogs on a two-hour walk around town. That thoroughly exhausted them both! They both met lots of people and other dogs along the trail, which was a good experience. Brando seemed a little overstimulated by everything at first, but after an hour or so, he was able to chill and accept the fact that we were going to pass all kinds of people, kids, bikes, runners, and dogs.

Overall, he is a happy dude with a ton of potential. I am confident that he will find his forever home in no time at all!

Brando playing

More to come!