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One Year Ago Today

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One year ago today, I let my beloved Willow go. She is now named Mia, and is a beloved, treasured family pet. I’ve missed her dearly, wished at times I had her back, but mostly I know I did the right thing. Sometimes I miss training her- we clicked in that way for sure. But, dogs come and dogs go, and doors open when others close. My choice allowed me to bring home a very special puppy of a very special breed. My Quest, and the American showline German Shepherd Dog, have changed my life forever. They have brought me more joy, new friends, and fun than anything else in a very long time.

Yesterday before herding we went to the lake, to the very spot I spent so many hours and so much time with my Willow. I am playing with a different dog at the lake now, but the memories are still wonderful, both old and new. Life comes full circle.

I Herd That…

Quest had his third herding lesson yesterday. The last time I took him herding, I was very unsure of myself. I am not good under pressure, I’m not a fast learner of physical tasks, and I have many physical issues that make being on my feet on uneven ground, and working a dog in such a situation difficult. The dog himself is fantastic. The problem is definitely me. I had a great deal of dread and concern about this lesson, and had even considered sitting it out. On top of all this, I have an additional leg inury at the moment that is temporarily holding me back even more.

As it turns out our friend Jackie ended up being there too. She’s got tons more experience than I do at herding, and has the confidence to perhaps get the dog to work with her (he would also work for the instructor, and to a point for Scottie- but he’s also learning, albeit faster than I am!). I stood in the pen with Jackie and Quest and reassured him he should go work the sheep with her much more experienced guidance, and it went perfectly. Once he knew I wanted him to do that, he herded like I have never seen him do before. Beyond instinct and into learning some finer aspects of the task.

I may or may not ever trial or work him myself, but as a physically limited person who does not enjoy being in the ring myself (including the show ring) I’m all too happy for someone capable and willing to handle him at events for me. His awesome breeder Anya shows him for me, and I’m extremely happy with that arrangement, too. She is a professional who knows exactly what she is doing and brings out his best. I totally have respect for those who own and work and show their own animals, but I feel no less proud and thrilled when my dog succeeds with someone else in the spotlight.

At any rate, I’m super thankful for my friends in this awesome breed community, and for all the opportunities Quest and I have thanks to all of them. We wouldn’t be able to take our herding lessons at all without the help of Zee, who drives us there and is great company as well. Her beautiful little collie did amazing also. Watching these dogs grow and mature and learn their ultimate job they were born for is an amazing experience.

Here’s some pictures of our awesome boy from yesterday:

Not Just a Pretty Face

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I was able to take a wonderful hike with my buddy this past weekend. As you’d expect from me, I posed him on every log I could find. He, of course, was perfect. He is so well trained and willing to do anything I ask. He’s also beautiful and magnificent, but that’s not all he is. Being handsome and noble is only one aspect of being a German Shepherd Dog.

Quest demonstrated his stellar character a few times on this day out. A highlight of the walk was when he went racing off towards our friend and her dogs, that he knows and recognized and was happy to see. I called him and he stopped from a full gallop instantly, turned on a dime, and tore back to me.

Another highlight was when a toddler ignored pleading from his mother and ran right up to Quest. The dog merely wagged, stood steady, and gave some kisses as the small child came right up and hugged and petted him. The mother knows she needs to work on this, but was certainly grateful the German Shepherd Dog her two year old grabbed in the face was a stable, gentle beast with the perfect, child-patient temperament for his breed.

At another point in our walk, I had perched on a large rock to toss a stick into the water for Quest. A man passed by, made some small talk, and politely asked if Quest could come over to the path and say hello. I said sure, and he then called Quest. I appreciated that the man had asked first. Quest wagged, stick hanging from his happy face, but seemed puzzled as to why he would bother leaving my side and go 15 feet away to fawn over a stranger. With zero fear or concern, he gave the man a few tail swishes, but chose to stay at my side and urge me to toss his stick again. This, my friends, is the actual meaning of aloof. Zero fear, zero anger, and mere disinterest in someone who does not particularly concern him and is of no threat.

He’s maturing into everything I could want in a dog and a GSD. I can’t wait for a fun filled spring and summer with the best canine friend I could ever have.

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