Tuesday, 25 June 2013

Angels and Demons (All in one special GSD)



Two side of one dog, why you need to understand the special breed of dog that is the German Shepherd.

Blue is German Shepherd, who turned five in May 2013, though he is not our first dog, he is our first German Shepherd, I do not claim to be an expert on the breed, behaviour or training of such a special breed, but by sharing an overall picture, it is meant to enlighten others to help them go through some of the darker sides of this magnificent creature, and show that there are two sides they need constant work to maintain a balanced and happy family pet and guardian.

When we first see Blue, he was one of a large litter, he was black all over and was our first choice, after a couple of visits he was soon ready to leave the litter and join us in our home, the breeder advised us to use a crate, which we gratefully received the loan of.

So we took home our little angel of fluffy fur, and introduced him to the family home.

Crate training is a good positive experience for a puppy used in the right way, it must never be used as punishment, and they say things happen for a reason, Blue benefited greatly later in his puppy life after his spinal operation.

So where am I going with this Angels and demons thing; Well here goes;

There was a little bundle of fluffy fur that entered our home, as cute as can be, he came equipped with little teeth and an attitude to match a dog ten times his size. Bare feet were an obvious target, easy overcome by wearing shoes, training and socialisation were high on our agenda, we wanted Blue to enjoy those things our previous dog was not able due to his limitations and anxiety.

Blue was always confident, in fact maybe over confident, his main way of communicating was either with his teeth or by flattening things with his paws, and combining both by jumping up.

Seeking advice through the supportive breeder, all attempts to curb the unsocial side of Blue, positive play, raising of voices, ignoring bad behaviour noise distraction, all failed and this little puppy was growing and causing more pain on his victims, puppy training started to make a difference but then came the set back that he required immediate spinal surgery.

Then Blue the little angel worked with us to ensure that his rehabilitation was given the best chance, through hydrotherapy and much care and attention Blue was more mobile and returning to his old self.

Sadly this is where the demon side returned, bigger and stronger, he was now inflicting wounds and pain on his victims, primarily on my wife Sue. Bruising and bit marks on the arms were the norm, finally after kicking off in the local park, she was not able to take Blue out on her own, this was now a point where we were at our closest to giving up on Blue. Tears of hurt and frustration were there on a daily basis.

Our saviour was a few miles away, a company called Aquadoggies ran a pool for dogs, this was the outlet that he needed, a serious chance to burn off some aggression and pent up energy, this helped all of us and the benefits are there to see.

Blue did not become a good dog overnight, our target of getting him to his second birthday was the turning point, and while others offered ideas it was a very difficult period to get through.

Blue is our Angel, with a dark side that now lurks way down, but occasionally bubbles to the surface but to a much lesser effect.

Others have trod this same path, unable to go on, either physically or mentally beaten, so my advice is this, however bad it gets, there is an answer out there, and many willing helpers.

We now joke about how Blue would go from 1 through to six and then to 10 with his temperament, now he goes from 1 through to eight before reaching 10, and demonstrates familiar traits as pre-warning signals.

For the record Blue is now more Angel than demon, but his darker side makes him the special character that he has become  special in our hearts.