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The Indelible Mark German Shepherds Have Left on Our Hearts

In 1972, we traded our cramped apartment for a charming, albeit rundown, house in Edmonds, Washington. Despite its flaws, the house offered sprawling acreage, towering evergreens, and ample space for a vegetable garden - the perfect setting for our new adventure with German Shepherds. 

German Shepherd Ajax beside the hostasWe crossed paths with a fascinating group of hippies, who introduced us to their stunning AKC-registered German Shepherds. When their funds hit a low, we chipped in $100 for dog food and received the pick of the litter in return - the beginning of our love affair with this incredible breed. 

With a new puppy of our own, we began our original research, studying everything from training methods to Schutzhund winners. Our newfound friends worked for Von Nassau Kennels, an internationally renowned breeder, and I even spent a summer working there as a gardener. 

Our male puppy, "Loose," quickly became my best friend, teaching me the art of deep, patient, and quiet communication. As he helped us navigate rough times, his unwavering hope and protection led us to faith in God and Jesus Christ. When our children were born, he became the best babysitter, remaining with us until he was 14 years old. 

German Sherpherd summer with petuniasFour dogless years later, we welcomed 6-week-old Max into our family. He played with our youngest daughter and. protected our home from wildlife. However, when we moved into a smaller house, we had to rehome Max - a decision that still weighs heavily on our hearts. 

Our search for another "Loose" led us to a new German Shepherd, but we soon realized each dog has its own unique disposition. Despite his compliance and trainability, our neighbors were wary of him, and hidden health issues eventually forced us to euthanize our beloved companion. 

Throughout our journey with German Shepherds, we've been graced with the presence of some incredible females, each bringing their unique qualities and challenges to the table. We quickly learned that without a proper kennel, separating them from the males was quite the task, and their hormones often seemed to have a mind of their own, overshadowing our training efforts.

Portrait of German Shepherd, AjaxImagine having a regal, 120 lb. German Shepherd as your first service dog - that was Saphira! She was the perfect height for me at 5'5" and provided unwavering support, both physically and emotionally. Her calm demeanor and laser-like focus made her a dream to work with, never getting distracted by other dogs (except during that one hormone-driven phase!). 

Although we didn't initially plan to spay her, a cyst led us to make the tough decision. However, Saphira's incredible adaptability shone through, making training a breeze. In fact, I even taught my daughter how to take over her care, innovating a trailblazing method by using a remote collar while on horseback for our exhilarating trail rides!

More to come...


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