My husband and me have four dogs who run our household.
Yes, four. Go ahead and count them above. I’ll wait.
They are all pure bred German Shepherds and range from ages 3 years to 5 months old. Why would we be that crazy to have four big, hairy dogs living with us? Well, truth be told, we love them too much to let anyone else have them. We also have a room in our basement that perfectly fits four dog crates. Just to fill you in, see the picture above so you know what I have to live with. Starting from the left: Crusher (2 years), Lucy (3 years), Gunther (5 months), Otto (5 months). Oh, and that handsome guy in the background is my husband, Dave.
And, before any of you ask, there isn’t a problem with the brothers’ ears. They are taped for a reason–it’s to get them to stand up.
Our family dynamic changed on January 2nd of this year when we lost Sarge, our seven-year old and patriarch of the dog clan. I’ll spare you the medical details, but Sarge has always had a lot of issues. We called him our “million dollar dog” for good reason.
Being dog owners our entire lives, Sarge left a gaping hole in our hearts. He was one of those dogs that we considered special; extraordinary. He had soulful eyes, and a personality that was tender and heartwarming. I don’t really care how many more dogs we get after him, but let’s just say that Sarge sits up on a pedestal compared to all others.
If you’re a dog lover, you can probably relate to that last statement.
Anyway, since we keep in touch regularly with our breeders, Gail and Chris, they sent their sympathies and informed us that they were expecting another litter in the Spring. There is nothing like having a new puppy to turn your frown upside down as well as the rest of the house.
I was up for the challenge. I’m not afraid of change and fully embrace it. I mean, just look at my life for God’s sake.
When they were born and ready to be looked over, we took a drive to the farm. The litter consisted of three boys–who were considered triplets–because they all looked the same, and four girls. They were coat shepherds which we wanted. Coat shepherds, for those who don’t know, are German Shepherds with longer hair. Believe it or not, they shed less than short-haired German Shepherds. I should know because I’m the Queen of vacuuming.
The old adage is to let the dog pick you; don’t pick the dog–or your nose. Okay, I added in the last part. My husband and me sat on the floor with seven little black balls of fur rolling around, playing with their toys, and chasing Crusher and Lucy, our two dogs we brought from home, so they can have a little sensory playtime.
It’s true what they say about dogs introducing themselves to one another. BUTT, anyway…
It was on that day we brought Gunther home. His two brothers weren’t too pleased to see him leave, but it happens. Gunther and Crusher immediately bonded because they were boys. Lucy couldn’t have cared less about the entire situation. She looked at me as if to say, Really, mom? ANOTHER boy?
Lucy is a bitch. She’s a nice snooze alarm for me, but she’s a bitch. She’s aloof, which is a historic trait for girl German Shepherds. They take a while to warm up to a person. However, Lucy takes awhile to warm up to anything. She avoided Gunther like she would avoid taking a pill down her throat for the first week. She also hates cameras. Anytime you aim an iPhone, iPad, or camera at her, she turns her head and goes to the corner. I think she feels the camera is stealing her soul, if she has one.
She also thinks she’s fooling you when she watching the house. She’ll sit there on the couch pointing to something. “What is it, girl?” But, you quickly come to realize she’s fooling you because she’s sound asleep.
Dog Trickery. Should I put her on America’s Got Talent?
After the first week, they all seemed to get along quite well. Crusher was getting tired of Gunther constantly biting his feet and looked at me as if to say, Mom, get this kid off of me for five minutes, please?
Mother’s Day barreled around the corner, and we had, Nan, Dave’s mom, over for dinner. Nan mentioned that Gail and Chris were looking for a home for one of Gunther’s brothers. They were planning on keeping the third to breed.
I looked at Dave and Dave looked at me.
“We’ll take him,” I said. “I mean, what’s one more? If anything, Crusher will thank us for it.”
So, after two weeks of having a new arrival getting used to his environment, Gunther was happy to see his brother, Otto, join our family.
We’ve never owned brothers before. It’s hilarious to watch them play. I do get concerns with three males in the house, but the brothers know who the alpha dog is. Crusher has gracefully gaited into Sarge’s role; he knew it was expected of him, and he’s maintaining the title quite nicely.
Having four dogs is a full-time job. I won’t kid you. They are like children; potty training, puppy training, feeding, vet appointments, grooming, walking, playing, and of course, vacuuming.
When they nap after their morning training sessions, given by yours truly, as well as their walks–also given by yours truly–they need a little nap. I use their nap time to write this blog. I would also take a nap, but someone’s gotta vacuum and blog around here.
Thankfully, they aren’t like children who grow out of naps. On the contrary, the older a dog gets, the more they like to sleep. It’s when they are awake that I fear something will happen to the paper products in the house.
I think there was a meeting in which Dave and me were not invited. The two oldest dogs, had to provide a guided tour to the brothers as to where all of the paper products were.
“Ya see this thing? You can roll it with your nose, get the end of it, and just….RUN!” Crusher explains to the youngsters.
Lucy chimed in with, “I don’t think you should be….”
“Shut, up, Bitch!” Crusher yelled. “They have to know all this stuff because they have to be worse than we were when we were their age. Jeeeez.”
All the dogs loved toilet paper when they were puppies; Gunther and Otto are no exception. I’ve seen the house TP’d with a roll of Charmin trailing from the bathroom, weaved through dining room chairs and into the family room like it was supposed to be some sort of scavenger hunt trail.They also like the bathroom trash. Otto has a penchant for lamp cords and broke two of our lamps within twenty-four hours. We were able to fix one, but my favorite silver mercury glass lamp looked like it was blown up to smithereens.
Otto learned that one on his own. Crusher was quite impressed.
“Nice move. You’re on mom’s hit list now.”
Otto looked at him and said, “I just wanted the tag on the cord that said, “DO NOT REMOVE.””
“You’re such a rebel. I like you.”
“Thanks. Let’s go beat up Gunther.”
“Okay, but I go first. I’m the Alpha.”
They don’t cause too much trouble because I’m training them the important words, STAY! and COME! Don’t tell me to take my four dogs to a dog park. They don’t need socializing with other dogs. They have their own pack to play with. I pick up dog poop about a dozen times a day because they don’t give a crap, so to speak, about running through it, but I do. They like to lie in mulch and chew on sticks. This requires me to brush off their asses before they enter the house or else there is more mulch inside the house than outside where it belongs.
Did I mention that I vacuum a lot?
If I buy four identical toys, they all want what the other has. I bought a gun (no, not that kind of gun), that shoots out tennis balls. They love it, but fight over one ball.
So, I bought like, 20 tennis balls and just started shooting them in the yard. I was waiting for Serena Williams to make an appearance to hop over my fence into my backyard to hit them back; we could have had a good game. My dogs like to chase the balls, but they get intercepted by the other dogs and never bring them to me like they are supposed to. I think the only dog who physically brings me the ball is Lucy.
She’s a good bitch even if she thinks the camera is stealing her soul.
The issue with squirrels will be a lesson each dog will learn the first day upon their arrival, along with destroying paper products.
Crusher with his alpha persona kicks in. “Listen, you two idiots, when mom lets us out the door, just follow me, got it?”
Otto and Gunther both nod at the same time.
It’s like horses out of the gates. They aim for the trees and almost catch a squirrel.
If they ever bring one to me, I will scream bloody murder, because that is exactly what will have happened to the squirrel.
Crusher adds, “Oh, and Gunther? I want you to dig a hole and lay in it. This way, mom knows you did it and you’ll get a cookie!”
Gunther not knowing any better complies and definitely doesn’t get a cookie, but rather, a lesson.
I dearly love all of my dogs because they have such different personalities; just like human beings. Please be kind to your dogs. Don’t treat them like rabid animals–they have personalities just like you and me. Keeping them in crates all day isn’t good for them. Get a dog walker if you have to work. Dogs need exercise to exert all that enthusiasm they have so they don’t jump on you when you get home from work. It’s not their fault they have so much energy. They need to find a release which is really up to you; the trusted owner they will come to know and love. To harm a dog is like harming another human being. They just want to be loved; they know only you and need to trust you to live happy, healthy lives.
Spread the word.