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?

Foster update: Trina! (Now Kira)

We recently got an update from Kira (formerly Trina) and her family! They say she is doing very well and loving her life with them. The family sent this photo of her in her new dog bed:

Kira (fka Trina) in her new dog bed. It looks like she's wearing a Thundershirt here, and I'm not sure why; they didn't mention it.
Kira (fka Trina) in her new dog bed. It looks like she’s wearing a Thundershirt here, and I’m not sure why; they didn’t mention it.

I can’t believe how big she is now! She almost looks like a full-grown lady.

I love hearing from adopters of our fosters — particularly when it’s about a foster that we were tempted to keep ourselves. But I think we really made the right choice for Kira. I had five different adopters that I had to choose from, and I feel confident that she’s with just the right family. They are young and active; they work with her on training; and they have her practicing agility already. (I got a phone video of her practicing with her agility tunnel in their backyard! So cute. She clearly loves it.)

She’s such a whip-smart puppy — maybe one of the smartest dogs I’ve met — and we’re so happy that she’s in the right place. Warm, fuzzy feelings.

And now back to moving/packing madness!

Do you ever hear from the adopters of your fosters? Does it make your day like it does mine?

Meet Brynn (Trina)! Our tempting new foster puppy

You guys. We are in trouble. I think I really, really want to keep this puppy.

Now that is some well-practiced cuteness. #fosterpuppy #gsd
Brynnie!

Here’s the story: Friday night, this little lady got dropped off with me; I was volunteering with the rescue on our pedestrian mall, where we had a table and were passing out information about the rescue, raising money, etc. Brynn (who is called “Trina” by the rescue, officially) showed up in the back of an SUV with a bunch of kids, just wagging her tail and looking around. I thought that being on the mall would be way too stressful for her, but she hung out there for three hours and was a total rockstar.

We put that cute vest on her and, naturally, drew tons of attention to the booth!

Oh, man. This little lady is a huge temptation. #fosterpuppy #gsd
Wearing her donation vest.

She met tons of people of all ages, shapes, and sizes; children, whom she happily kissed and showed no anxiety about; and other dogs, spending most of her time playing with Titan, the rescue VP’s bombproof sable male.

We wore her out at the event, and then brought her home to meet Pyrrha.

Hard day of play for little baby. #puppy #guionsaysineedtowaitaweekbeforewedecidetokeepher

The introduction went perfectly, and the two of them have been playing beautifully ever since.

Brynn ADORES Pyrrha and wants to be with her every second. Pyrrha tolerates this puppy love with admirable patience, but she also seems to genuinely enjoy playing with her in the backyard.

First morning with Brynn (Trina)

First morning with Brynn (Trina)
On the tail! Killing me with cuteness.

First morning with Brynn (Trina)

As you can see, they also love wrestling together.

First morning with Brynn (Trina)

First morning with Brynn (Trina)

Based on her size (38 lbs.) and the vet report, we think she’s about 4.5 to 5 months old.

She was dropped off at a shelter in Gastonia, NC, by her owner, citing conflict with his/her insurance policy. And that’s all we know about her. Based on her outgoing personality and general looks, she seems to have been well cared for. Her lack of shyness also makes me think she was somewhat well socialized (although it could also just be that she has a great personality, which she does).

First morning with Brynn (Trina)

Brynn walks beautifully on the leash, and we’ve been taking her out on strolls every night since we got her. Her only (SLIGHT) fear seems to be moving cars (she just trots away from them), but we’ve been practicing some behavior modification to help her with that. (And, frankly, I’m kind of OK if she doesn’t want to get near moving cars!)

She looks very sound to me, and her vet check-ups didn’t show any cause for concern. As with all rescue German shepherds, you’re pretty much not going to get a well-bred animal, but she looks really great, all things considered. I particularly like that she does not have a sloped topline or those exaggerated hocks, and her face is also very nicely proportioned.

First morning with Brynn (Trina)

Why do I care about all of this for the foster puppy? Well, because I want to keep her. As you may recall, our motivation for fostering was to find a great puppy to add to our family. Our qualifications were a happy, outgoing, bright puppy with no shyness (to balance out Pyrrha’s more extreme anxieties). We were also looking for a mixed-breed male, which, clearly, Brynn is not. So.

First morning with Brynn (Trina)
(She looks like she has a lump under her chest, but that’s just hair from where she was shaved for her spay.)

Here are my internal pros and cons for keeping Brynnie.

PROS

She’s:

  • Outgoing and confident
  • Healthy
  • Gets along wonderfully with Pyrrha
  • Super with children (was briefly fostered with them before us)
  • Great with other dogs
  • Intelligent
  • Active
  • People-oriented
  • Very responsive
  • BEAUTIFUL

CONS

She’s:

  • Purebred
  • Of essentially unknown origin
  • Land-shark-y (but aren’t all GSD puppies at this age??)
  • Not “bombproof” necessarily (e.g., was a bit wary of a toddler on our walk last night but was fine with tons of little kids coming up to her on the pedestrian mall)

First morning with Brynn (Trina)

(As you can see, my “cons” side is weak!)

Guion (husband) wants to spend more time making this decision (because he is rational and not as swayed by puppy breath as I am), so we’re going to give it another week before we make the final call.

But what do you think? Should we keep her?? Or should we keep waiting?

Laszlo log

Laszlo on the couch

Laszlo Log!

Updates on our little foster buddy:

  • Working on a better relationship with Pyrrha. They are increasingly learning how to coexist with each other, which is heartening. While I eat breakfast, they like to play bitey-face under the table. Recently, they’ve been doing this weird thing in which Pyrrha holds her mouth open and Laszlo sticks his ENTIRE HEAD in her mouth and starts licking her teeth, gums, and tongue… kind of like this. It’s so strange. But they both seem to enjoy it! (Have you ever seen dogs do this?? I haven’t!)
  • He’s still sitting when he wants attention. We’ve been teaching him to sit in front of us when he wants attention, instead of jumping up. He still jumps, but he throws those sits out any time he wants something! It’s impressive. He still jumps on me, though, when Pyrrha comes barreling after him in the yard, which I don’t blame him for; I’d want to be picked up, too!
  • Makes up for all the crying and destructiveness with snuggles. It’s a good thing puppies are so cute. Because they are so much work! I was really irritated with him on Monday night; he kept messing with Pyrrha, chewing stuff, peeing, etc. But then I pulled him up on the couch with me, after an hour of enduring his antics, and he fell asleep on my chest for an hour. Sigh. You can’t stay too mad at a creature who is that adorable.
  • He met a prospective dad this week! Our friend in town saw photos I’d posted on Facebook and said he was interested. He came by to meet Laszlo and I think Laszlo was quite charming. Naturally! Waiting to see what happens here, but I’ve encouraged our friend to go ahead and put in application, because I have a feeling that Laszlo won’t linger very long.
  • Laszlo will be attending an adoption event with me this Saturday at our local Tractor Supply. The rescue is having an event there, and I will be bringing him along. I am sure his cute little face will attract a lot of attention!

More to come!

Laszlo is up for adoption! If you like that cute little face, fill out an application at Southeast German Shepherd Rescue!