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Archive for the ‘German shepherd dog’ Category

quest fourth of july

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Dare and big quest

So Dare arrived Monday evening. Quest’s breeder dropped her off, along with the Brown Puppy himself, who had been up in New York State winning a few more points towards his AKC championship.

She is a fire-cracker of a pup. She doesn’t scream in her crate, and she eliminates as soon as her feet hit the ground.  She’s not going to be tough to house train at all.

She is also quite interactive. She already looking me in the eye when I talk to her, and she’s also talking back with her cute little German shepherd moans.

Dare and questy

She and Quest are getting along very well. He never really has any problem with little puppies, and he generally likes other dogs. So those two won’t be much of a problem.

Dare has that German shepherd look in her eyes. It’s hard to describe, but it’s one of their hallmarks. They have deep piercing eyes that fully portray their intelligence.

dare at home

I think she will be an awesome dog. She’s already a super puppy.

dare gaiting

And yes, I must fully admit that I am no longer a golden retriever person. They are good dogs, but they don’t do it for me the way a German shepherd can.

I am so fortunate to know so many good people in the breed in this country. I want to thank Frank De Bem of Kysarah Shepherds in New Hampshire for giving us this wonderful opportunity, and I want to thank Brianna Burkhart, Pamela Martin, and Anya Dobratz for transporting her across the Northeast to get her out here.

So I am happy with this little black and tan pup.  I know that I am in the right breed community, and these dogs are so awesome.

 

 

 

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dare being cute

As I mentioned in my post about letting Anka find a new home, new opportunities were on the way.

When Anka left, though, I was not expecting to get this great new co-own opportunity. Frank De Bem of Kysarah Shepherds in New Hampshire offered us a co-ownership deal with one of his hot show prospects.

So on Sunday, Kysarah’s Dare To Be Different will be part of our household. She is 1/4 West German show line. The rest American show line.

I’m told that she is a total hellion. She has lots of drive and good nerves, which is good because I do want to train her in obedience and herding. The sire has a PT, so we could have a herder on our hands.

So yes, it’s obvious I’ve moved onto a different breed, and when she gets here on Sunday, I’ll give you a full assessment.

But I am so excited about this pup.

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anka

Dogs come into our lives. Sometimes, they just live out their days as wonderful companions. Others wind up changing our lives for good.

Anka was the dog that change my perspective entirely. I never liked German shepherds, and I really didn’t like the working ones.

But after spending a week working with one of these dogs, I knew I would never want to be without one.

Her arrival coincided with the arrival of Quest, and Quest has wound up opening many doors for me. I came to know people with top of the line German shepherds of the three or four major types, but as time went on, new opportunities began to avail themselves.

Last November, I realized that I was about to come into to some opportunities, ones that meant I would have to spend less time working my unregistered sable dog. At the same time, she was developing some serious same sex aggression towards other female dogs, and she was losing her tolerance of Zoom, our male whippet.

We were able to manage her aggression through crate and rotate, but because I would be getting new German shepherds like her in the near future, I would be forced to spend less time with her.

And that’s no life for a truly exceptional dog.  So Anka now lives on a farm with two young boys to take care of. This dog has strong tending instincts, and she has a profound fondness for children. So I sent her to live in the perfect home– where she is the only dog.

I cried more over placing this dog than any other, but I know that my decision was a correct one. If I lived with only one dog and just wanted an active pet, I would have held onto her. She is a truly special animal, and I will always get a bit gooey whenever I see a sable working German shepherd.

As for those new opportunities, well, stay tuned to this space.

These new opportunities would never have happened without Anka. I wish I could thank her somehow, but I guess thanks is living on that nice acreage and having the perfect life.

And so the future comes. And it holds many beautiful adventures to come.

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I love reading old breed books. Getting into German shepherds now means that I have a whole new selection of books to read, and in older German shepherd books that are written in English, there is a strong desire to distance this breed from wolves.  At one time, the breed was banned in Australia because of its supposed wolf ancestry, and Australian sheep interests were quite concerned that the breed infuse wolf phenotype and behavior into dingoes if they got loose and crossbred. So there is a tendency to downplay any relationship between this breed and wolves, and this tendency sometimes gets quite ridiculous.

In the first few pages of Jane Bennett’s book on the breed, which had its last printed in 1982, I noticed this image of a wolf.

Jane Bennet Wolf German shepherd

If you cannot read the full caption, check it out here:

Tomarctus wolf Jane Bennett

So I don’t expect to see accurate zoology or paleontology in dog books, especially from old ones. And to be honest, I am skeptical that German shepherds are especially wolf-like dogs with close wolf-like ancestry.   It is possible that some of the Thuringian sheepdogs in the breed’s ancestry had some wolf crossed in, but I don’t think they are wolfdogs in the same way that a Czechoslovakian vlcak is.

But the idea that the most recent common ancestor between a wolf and German shepherd was Tomarctus is not at all accurate. In some of the old dog books I have, Tomarctus is sometimes mentioned as an ancestor of modern dog species.

However, current paleontology places Tomarctus in the Borophagine subfamily of Canidae. Not a single living descendant of the Borophagine dogs exists. These dogs lived only in North America and all were extinct by the end of Pliocene. Tomarctus went extinct about 16 million years ago, which would be in the Miocene.

So it was not even a late surviving Borophagine dog, and it certainly was not the most recent common ancestor of wolves and German shepherds.  If it were the most recent common ancestor, then Czechoslovakian vlcaks, Saarloos wolfhonden, and Volksoby would have been impossible to create. 15-16 million years is more than enough time for two mammalian lineages to lose chemical interfertility, and dogs and wolves simply are chemical interfertile right now.

The most recent common ancestor between a German shepherd and a wolf could have been a wolf kept at the Frankfurt zoo that some think is behind the Thuringian sheepdog Hektor Linksrhein/Horand von Grafrath, which is the foundation dog for the modern German shepherd breed. Or it could have been a wild wolf that mated with a sheepdog somewhere in Germany, and that sheepdog line got mixed into the breed. Further, dogs in Eurasia, some of which may have German shepherd in them, are interbreeding with wild wolves at a much higher frequency than we might have imagined. 

I honestly don’t know, if the GSD breed has close wolf ancestry, and reasonable people can disagree on this issue.  I have not seen definitely proof either way, so I do remain agnostic on this issue. The temperament of the breed, though, is of very trainable herding dog.

But whatever the truth is, I don’t think anyone thinks the most recent common ancestor of the German shepherd and the wolf was a species that outside the lineage of both.

This claim isn’t as bad as the claim that chow chows are derived from extinct digitigrade  bears or from an extinct predatory species of red panda.

Jane Bennett’s book includes lots of good information in pedigrees and care of a German shepherd, but that page of the book indicates a strong desire to distance the dog from the wolf in a way that those of us living in the era of molecular biology and modern cladistics would find a bit bizarre.

The current thinking from full-genome comparisons is that all domestic dogs are derived from a now defunct lineage of Eurasian gray wolf. To keep Canis lupus monophyletic, we must keep the dog as part of that species.

So I have noticed a theme in many of these older books to keep German shepherds as distant from wolves as possible, even if it means making a claim that could easily disproved with a simple look at the Czechoslovakian vlcak or the Saarloos wolfhond, which both existed when this book was last printed.

Jane Bennett bool

 

 

 

 

 

 

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quest in a mountain stream

We came to the mountains from the south.  For two days, we rose out of the heat of Florida into the rolling hills of Georgia. We spent a night in Greenville, South Carolina, and then began our ascent into the Blue Ridge.

We came into the woods with a van full of dogs. The two whippets, the greyhound, and our German shepherd were ready and steady, yearning for a good run. So after climbing up into the land of the rhododendron, we eased onto a forest service road and let them rip.

The sighthounds hit the ground running. Double-suspending in their gallops, they seemed to float over the trail But it was Quest, our maturing German shepherd, who came to into his own in the mountain forests.

His meaty wolf paws carried him over the rough country, as did his sound gait. He leaped wildly, cavorting as if he were a young stallion just racing out from his band in search of new territory.

For a tossed stick, he dived into the clearest mountain stream. Any little brook trout that might have been lurking in the depths would have shot back under their fallen log redoubts, for they were under an aerial assault of the canine kind.  Young dog leaping into the  cold water,  ecstatic joy that our own species either cannot experience or ever hope to tap into.

The whippets and greyhounds are the speeding luxury cars. They would be made by some Italian manufacturer to zip around the highways of Rome, but the German shepherd is all-terrain and amphibious.  What it lacks in speed, it holds up better when the terrain turns rugged and muddy.

For decades, so-called experts, especially self-appointed ones, have told us that the German shepherd is a catastrophe on four legs.  They are all hock-walking and broken and dysplastic. They are no longer the true working dogs of Central Europe.  They just cannot do all the things normal dogs can.

But watching this creature charge about the forest, leaping over logs as if they weren’t there, I now know even more that much of what we read about these dogs is just rubbish.

Experiencing a rugged Appalachian woodland in Western North Carolina with one of these dogs is certainly eye-opening.  This is a dog bred for the show ring. His ancestors have been bred mostly for that purpose for decades. From what we all think we know about this breed, one would assume that he would have such a hard time being a mountain dog, but he covers the land with power and grace and, yes, simple elan.

And so we trundled away from our time in the mountains. Our hearts were filled with sorrow of leaving, but my mind was on the stolid nobility of this young dog when he stops to stare back at us on the forest trails.

He is a creature meant for this world of long forest hikes and cool dips in mountain springs. He is natural but still domesticated and cultivated and fancy. He is a contradiction, a paradox of sorts, but a magnificent one nonetheless.

He is a youngster just coming into his own. He has a lifetime of running and swimming ahead of him. Many adventures are yet to come. Much is unwritten, but stories that will unfold will be rich ones.

So we left the mountains. For a little a while.

But we will be back. And the young dog will get his chance to cavort in the woods and water once again.

 

 

 

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second major

Quest got his second major this morning. He was Winners Dog and Best of Winners both days at the Medina Kennel Club’s March show, which was held at Tallmadge.

He got six points out of the weekend. He has to have two majors and a total of 15 points to finish.

He’s on his way.

Thanks so much to Anya Dobratz for handling him and breeding such a great dog!

 

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