About eight months ago, one of my regular customers gave me a six month old German Shepherd purebred. No papers, which is fine with me. I really have no care for such things as I gladly accepted the dog for companionship and security against all the woodsy creatures that like to get in my yard and eat the landscape. Besides, I’ve seen the Westminster Dog Show on TV, and frankly, I’m too lazy to put that much effort into a dog’s appearance and mannerisms.
I have owned many dogs in the past. Whether it was the family dog growing up, which we had four, or the two I had when I struck out on my own, no real training was ever needed really. They were all protective of the kids in the neighborhood. Only one, a Black Lab/Chow needed to be put on a chain. For the most part, just living day by day, they all wound up real mellow when it was called for, and playful when appropriate.
There was never any real bonding to one particular person either. Not one of these dogs was prejudiced towards anybody. They were friendly to all, except the occasional bully who tried to pick on the kids in the neighborhood. For the most part, all our dogs in the past were just part of the gang. Rocco the Shepherd however, is an entirely different story.
The day we brought him home, his name was Nugget. The name wasn’t bad, but we changed it so as to kind of take ownership. He was scared to death and extremely withdrawn. Not because he was beaten or abused in any way, but because he had run with his pack (siblings) up to that point, and was also quite attached to his previous owner. Right away, I wanted to do everything to help him accept this new living arrangement.
Once we got him to the house, I had to clean his vomit out of the back of my truck. When we brought him in, my wife immediately went to take a nap. Meanwhile, I brought him in to what was going to be his safe area (where he’s lying right now as I type) and introduced him to the over-sized pillow he would call his bed. (He has since chewed it up into a vast mess that necessitated a thorough cleaning of both yard and house.) He tucked himself into the corner as tightly as possible and gave a leery, frightened look at everything. He wouldn’t really let me near him for a bit.
After sitting at the desk for nearly an hour trying to get him used to my presence, I finally committed what my wife thought was a hygienic atrocity. I laid down on the pillow right next to Rocco. That was all it took. He bonded with me right off the bat. I had no idea how strong that bond was going to be…
to be continued…