Are you similar to your breed’s fans?

I am perpetually interested in how certain personality types gravitate toward certain breeds or breed types.

For instance, I have always loved dogs in the herding group most. I love their look, their intensity, their intelligence and drive to work with people. I grew up with a beautiful Australian shepherd, and I dream sometimes about getting an English shepherd. But I also have a soft spot for sighthounds and spaniels.

Through no clear intention of my own, I have become a “German shepherd person,” now raising two shepherds and having fostered six. (*German shepherds are technically in the herding group, according to the AKC, but many shepherds these days have lost that herding instinct. But there is a growing trend of getting working-line shepherds back into livestock herding, which I find very interesting.)

© Mike Hale (Flickr). Creative Commons license.
© Mike Hale (Flickr). Creative Commons license.

And yet I feel very different from the typical German shepherd person. Allow me to stereotype, will you?

The typical German shepherd person

  • ascribes to traditional, dominance-based training
  • often has a military or law enforcement background
  • is concerned with being “the alpha” or the “pack leader”
  • has no problem with shock collars, prong collars, and choke chains
  • finds schutzhund very appealing
  • is likely a gun owner
  • finds “toughness” and even mild aggression to be a virtue

Clearly, not everyone who has a shepherd fits most or even one of these stereotypes, but I find these traits to be more true of shepherd people than of other groups aligned with other breeds.

This person loves his or her shepherd as much as I love mine, and the generalizations are not meant to discount that but rather to say I often feel very, very temperamentally different from the typical German shepherd owner.

I am not tough, and I am not impressed by machismo. I do not and never will own a gun. I follow the science-based philosophies of positive reinforcement training and would never use a shock collar on my dog or on any dog. I do not think my dogs are trying to “dominate” me, a concept I find simultaneously laughable and dangerous.

For these reasons, I stay off the German shepherd message boards and have honestly distanced myself from a lot of our dogs’ rescue representatives, most of whom have bought into a shock-collar “training” franchise and encourage adopters to put their shepherds through their expensive programs, which promise fast results for “problem” dogs by the widespread use of e-collars. I’m OK with being an outsider.

My idea of a good night: wine, "Breaking Bad," and a shepherd sleeping in my lap. #draco #gsd
Draco, one of our fosters, and me.

It makes me curious, though, about other breeds, so I’d love to hear from you. What are some of the stereotypes of people with your dog’s breed? Do you fit those generalizations? 

Advertisements

Compassion for animals

More couch snuggles. #draco #fosterfun

“Compassion for animals is intimately associated with goodness of character, and it may be confidently asserted that he who is cruel to animals cannot be a good man.”

— Arthur Schopenhauer, The Basis of Morality

(Photos from September 2013 of my husband and our foster pup Draco, who came from an abusive/hoarding situation in West Virginia. He was such a cuddler! Dogs’ capacity for forgiveness of human beings never fails to astonish and humble me.)

Someone thinks he's a lap dog. #draco #gsd

And happy 29th birthday to my husband, whose compassion for animals qualifies him as a good man, and who very patiently puts up with my dog craziness.

Review: Halo Healthsome Biscuits

Like many of you, we normally have a wide range of dog treats on hand. We have tiny treats for training, chews for boredom, and a miscellaneous assortment of sizes, shapes, and types of treats for spontaneous rewards.

photo

I think these Halo Healthsome Biscuits will fall into our category of “toss-in-the-crate” treats (e.g., slightly more substantial treats that we give to our fosters when we’re crate training).

We let Draco be the taste tester for these biscuits, and as you can see, he was very interested.

photo_1

We got to test the protein and fiber formula. The ingredients are:

Whole Wheat Flour, Beef, Beef Liver, Potato Flour, Pea, Flour, Chicken Liver, Rolled Oats, Chicken Fat (Preservedwith Natural Mixed Tocopherols), Pumpkin, Tomatoes, Apples, Sweet Potatoes, Cranberries, Split Peas, Carrots, Green Beans, Green Bell Pepper, Celery, Parsley, and Ascorbic Acid

which I feel great about!

photo_2

These biscuits normally sell for $7.49 for an 8-oz. bag, but they are currently on sale for $4.99 a bag at Chewy.com.

The biscuits crumble easily, like a granola bar, which makes them more difficult for training use, but very nice for the occasional treat and for teaching new pups that great things come when they settle into the crate.

Have you ever tried Halo products? Are there particular varieties that you like or would recommend?

Disclaimer: We were provided with a bag of these biscuits from Chewy.com in exchange for our honest review, but all opinions are expressly mine.

Happy ending for Draco (now Otis)!

This week, I got the most heartwarming e-mail from Jamie about Draco, who has been renamed “Otis.” Almost made me shed some happy tears!

The e-mail, below, was sent with this photo:

Otis (fka Draco) and his sister Gabby!
Otis (fka Draco) and his sister Gabby!

Hey Abby!!!

Just wanted to check in with you guys and let you know that things are going great!  After repeatedly calling him Otis, he is starting to come when called and responding well.

The first night, the cat scared him to pieces but they have come to just look at each other and for now walk the other way. Gabby and him are doing great. They are snuggle buddies. Gabby likes to use him as a pillow.  Otis does not let her out of his sight. I have to let them out together and he stands beside her while she pottys then walks her back to the door then he turns around and goes to the bathroom then comes in.  It’s quite the sight to see. ❤

Thank you again for everything!!

I think our sweet, cuddly boy is set for life! SO happy.

In additional foster news, we get to meet our new foster puppy tonight! She was named Trina by the rescue, and she’s a 6-month-old black-and-tan German shepherd. And that’s all we know! Photos to come!

Hope you all have great weekends!

Play-date with Fiona the puppy

This past weekend, Pyrrha got to have a play-date with a new friend: Fiona the puppy!

Play-date with Fiona
Fiona!

Our good friends Chris and Sallie recently adopted Fiona, and she is a bundle of joy. Fiona, who is probably about 6 months old, was found wandering alone as a stray about two months ago, in the countryside near our town, and Sallie’s friend picked her up and took care of her for a few weeks.

Fiona’s background is anyone’s guess, but the interesting fact is that she was found wandering near a farm that breeds Rhodesian ridgebacks. She’s obviously too tiny (about 15 lbs.) to be a full ridgeback, but her coloring is very interesting, no?

Rhodesian ridgeback. Source: Wikimedia Commons.
Play-date with Fiona
Fiona in the backyard.

Although she doesn’t have the hair growing backward up her spine, she does have hackles that extend all the way from her shoulder blades to the base of her tail. Regardless, whatever she is, she sure is CUTE!

The girls had a great time together, as you can see.

Play-date with Fiona

Play-date with Fiona
Love these faces!

Fiona’s personality and play style reminded me a lot of Georgia’s, which is, I’m sure, part of the reason why Pyrrha got along with her so well.

We brought Draco out to meet her, but he seemed fairly uninterested in the play-date. He sniffed her a few times, and then he asked to go back inside. Ha! Never had a dog opt out of a play-date before, but I’m totally cool with that. We let him go inside and relax.

Play-date with FionaWe hope to have Fiona over again soon! I’ve already been thinking about good personality mixes for future play-dates. I think Fiona and Pyrrha would be great with Howie and Roland

Good luck, Draco!

That was fast, wasn’t it? But darling Draco is on a two-week trial with a family! (Our rescue has a trial period, in which adopters get to take a dog home for two weeks to see if he or she is a good fit. After the trial period is up, the adoption is finalized.)

Draco and his new dad and sister
Gabby and Jerry with Draco.

Jamie, Jerry, and their yorkie mix Gabby came to visit us last night, and the meeting went so very well! After our experience with Rainer, I feel like I have a little PTSD about dog meetings now, but we took the introduction much more seriously this time around, and everything went beautifully. The dogs met peacefully in the front yard, then we moved to the backyard to let them negotiate off leash, and then we went inside, where Draco immediately jumped up on the couch with Jerry, Jamie, and Gabby. Too sweet!

Think Draco found his forever family today!!
Bad cameraphone picture, but as you can see, Draco is really happy with his new family!

I’d say it’s a perfect match!

Cuddling acrobatics. #germanshepherd #draco

A few hours after he left, we got a sweet photo from the family, showing Jamie, Gabby, and Draco (who is probably going to be renamed “Otis”) all snuggling on a sofa together, with the caption, “I think they’re going to be best friends!”

Although nothing is final until the trial is over, my feeling is that Draco just lucked out on his perfect forever home! We couldn’t be happier for the guy. We came to love him a lot, after just a short week with him! He is a gem of a dog, and I think he is well on his way to a wonderful, stable, happy life.

Draco buddy

Happy endings! Fuzzy feelings! Good luck, Draco!

Draco buddy

And now we’re gearing up for the next foster adventure, because we apparently have a 6-month-old female heading our way in a few days! Whew! I will, as always, keep you posted…

These German shepherd twins…

… are settling in together nicely.

Shepherds at their posts. #pyrrha #draco #germanshepherd

As you can see, they can be hard to tell apart sometimes.

Shepherds chilling. #draco #pyrrha #fosterfun

With their eyes all aglow. #demondogs #fosterfun
Demon dogs!

Draco is a fast learner, and thanks to the help of consistent treats, he has learned to see the crate as a pretty cool place. He will still whine a bit, particularly at night, but he’s learning quickly.

A note on his name, too! Just so you didn’t think we named this gentle, affectionate boy after the punk bad boy Draco Malfoy… Draco was the name that he came with, and so we didn’t try to change it. (We got criticism from friends and family for giving such a sweetie such an aggressive-sounding name! Not our fault…)

More couch snuggles. #draco #fosterfun

And he’s still getting in plenty of cuddle time, as you can see.

Pyrrha is learning how to navigate some feelings of jealousy. She is not cuddly at all, not even with me, but watching Draco be so willing to snuggle has had an interesting effect on her. Last night, in fact, she jumped up on the empty space next to Guion — something she would never normally do — because Draco had just been right there. She grumbles at him occasionally, but they enjoy each other overall; we often find them sneaking kisses and playing “tag” in the backyard.

Hey handsome! #draco #germanshepherd

The exciting news is that he may have an interested family already! There’s a chance that they may come by this weekend to meet him! Hope that will work out for this sweet dude. Will keep you posted!

Hope you all have nice weekends ahead!