Advertisements
Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘German shepherd dog’

The Paw

Anka’s paw, extended out over the snow:

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

Read Full Post »

I see her sniffing along the trail:

anka sees something

It makes the leaves rustle, and she leaps back.

it leaps

I come to look, and it’s a very late season garter snake probably out looking for a hibernaculum.

garter snake

Read Full Post »

This site is supposed to be haunted.  It’s a good thing I brought my hell hound.

top of lock anka

top of lock sniff

 

Read Full Post »

Anka doing the “down” command in the silver maple leaves.

anka down in the leaves

Read Full Post »

anka posing with green collar

Mankind what eventually became our domestic dogs could have been running together for over 30,000 years.  This early date is questionable and hotly contested in the literature, but no one thinks that the dog is younger than 14,000 years old. Even in that time, our species and theirs were living as wild hunting beasts, tearing at hides and the flesh of the great deer and wild and horses and occasionally engaging in dangerous hunts for mammoth.

Over the intervening years, man has forged new useful dogs out of that derived stock, selecting for all sorts of behavior and capabilities.  New forms of working dog graced the stage as mankind began to form new cultures and then civilizations, and all would have gone on much like this.

But the nineteenth century came,  industrial production put so many people out of traditional tasks.  It did the same with dogs.

Anka’s line begins to shift from its traditional role as German crofter’s sheepdog at about this time. In 1871, Germany became a nation out of all those principalities and fiefdoms, and then set out on a long industrial march in hopes of surpassing the British Empire. Unified under Prussian auspices, the intelligentsia of the new German Empire began to think of ways to beat the British lion.

One thing that set the British apart from all other nations at the beginning of the nineteenth century was a strong national promotion of agricultural improvement.  By the beginning of that century, massive livestock shows were promoted to encourage the cattlemen, shepherds, and swineherds of realm to engage in selective breeding of their stock. Much of this breed improvement was done through extreme tight inbreeding, and it became such a popular activity that dogs got swept up in the whole zeitgeist of improvement. That sweeping up of dogs into the breed improvement movement in Britain was the genesis of the modern dog fancy, and those ideas are what largely drive our concepts of a dog breed in the West.

It was not long after German unification that middle class Germans began buying collies from England and Scotland, and this development irked the chauvinists of the new nation.

But it was not until 1891 that the Phylax Society was formed. This society was a breed improvement and standardization club that sought to standardize the working sheepdogs of the nation. However, this club lasted only three years, because the members were constantly at war with each other about whether looks or working ability mattered more.

It wasn’t until 1899, when a retired cavalry officer named Max von Stephanitz and his friend Artur Meyer founded the Verein für Deutsche Schäferhunde, which begin a systematic breeding program for the creation of what became Anka’s tribe of dogs. The founding “type specimen” sort of dog was called Horand von Grafrath, a Thuringian sheepdog with a sable coat. He was born Hektor Linksrhein to a breeder with the last name of Friedrich Sparwasser, who lived in Frankfurt.

Stephanitz had spent at lot of time at the Veterinary College of Berlin during his career as a cavalry officer, and there, he learned much about scientific breeding methods. The British were making a lot of hay with tight inbreeding, and so the early true German shepherd dog breeders did a lot of inbreeding off Horand and Horand’s offspring.  Dogs from Franconia and Württemberg/Swabia were also crossed in. These dogs were very often black and tan variants or recessive black, while the Thuringian dogs were usually either sable or solid white.

By the early years of the twentieth century, a breed was founded. Yes, the modern German shepherd dog is among the most modern breeds, and when one realizes that it was only 15 years between the founding of the modern German shepherd breed and the outbreak of the First World War, where these dogs served so admirably,  it becomes evident that these breeders achieved something rather remarking.

Yes, all this inbreeding at the base of the breed has left the population struggling with certain inherited defects and diseases, but it created a high quality strain that one could argue is possibly the most useful dog of modern era.

So Anka, despite her wolfy pelage and countenance, is of a new tribe of dog, and her specific part of the tribe, as far as I can tell, is the type that was bred for police work. She looks very Czech to me, though of course, I will never know. This is the type that gets imported from the Czech Republic and Slovakia in pretty high numbers to become part of police forces.

Her exact kind, if I am right, really got its start after the Second World War, when Czechoslovakia became part of the Eastern Bloc. This nation, forged from bits and pieces of the defeated German and Austro-Hungarian Empires,  had a strong connection to the German-speaking world. German shepherd dogs were fairly common in the nation in the interwar years, but after the war, they were in high demand by the state as working animals.

The communist government encouraged citizens to keep and train German shepherds for defense work, and like East Germany (the DDR), the borders to Czechoslovakia and West Germany and Austria were tightly guarded. The most famous strain of Czech German shepherds were the ones designated Pohranicni Straze or “Border Patrol.”  These dogs also patrolled the wild back country of the nation’s interior, and they were bred for athletic bodies and sharp minds.

Czechoslovakia is no more. The Czech Republic and Slovakia now stand as part of the European Union. The dogs are now sold in the West, and dogs of these communist strains are now quite common in the US.

So when I look into Anka’s soft, intelligent eyes, I see the sagacious beast, the one that started hanging out around the campfires of those megafaunal days, then became the pastoral dog Central Europe. Later, that beast was forged into the working dog the new German Empire and then became the dog of the New Socialist Man in Czechoslovakia.

And as we skitter on into this new millennia, where mankind once thought he knew it all and now knows nothing as he is lost in a sea of information and misinformation, the beast come with us, brown-eyed and willing and loyal to a fault.

We can hope the future holds a era of enlightenment and peace.  We hope that possibility, despite evidence that all seems wrong and topsy-turvy.

But we do know that man in his final hour on the planet will gaze deep into the dog’s eyes and weep. He will weep for the sadness of having committed enough atrocities upon the planet and the creatures and ecosystems and knowing that only the dog stands by him now.

But it is the dog that grounds us in the electronic age to the world of nature from which we descend but battle so hard against.  They remind us of that essential animality, that side of us that is still wild beast of prey.  It is this side with which we modernes struggle against but still deeply know when we look into a dog’s eyes.

The beast that stares back at us with soft eyes reminds of what we were and what we should never forget. Even as enlightened as we think we are, we must never lose that understanding that we are not above nature. We are merely forged from it.

And the dog tells us every day that we should not lose site of this immutable fact.

 

 

 

Read Full Post »

This is at a place near Beaver Creek State Park. Anka is the dark sable working GSD. Quest is the sable American show-line GSD pup. Jolene is the little black and tan GSD. Fontana is the little naked golden, out of coat after having raised a litter of puppies.

anka retrieve

fontana retrieving

crick wolf 1.jpg

crick wolves 2

anka and fontana.jpg

crick wolf

You can see the difference between the working and show type GSD here:

crick anka and quest.jpg

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »

%d bloggers like this: