New NW Member
Hello, I am a frequent visitor and first time poster. I frequent internet forums and feel they offer a wealth of real world knowledge and information, usually faster than sifting through pages of google results.
My name is Anthony and I live in Tri-Cities, WA (the SE part of the state in the Columbia Basin). I am interested in getting another GSD and want to get people's feel for fit and recommended breeders to start looking into. This may not be the right area to post all of this information so if it needs to be moved, please feel free to do so. I am going to open and honest and giving a detailed description of my background and family in hopes to be pointed in the right direction to find the right dog, if it's even the right fit...
I grew up having German Shepherds and absolutely love the dogs. My first experience was when my mom married the person I call my dad when I was about 4. He was a police officer at the time and had a GSD that I believe didn't make it through the police academy (not 100% on that, just what I remember 20 some odd years ago). Throughout the years we had a few more, one passed away (I don't remember what what happened but she got sick) and another we had for a few years and my parents re-homed because he and our other dog stressed each other out and resulted in a lot of destructive behavior. I am not sure why they chose to re-home the GSD. Growing up we never went through obedience training with our dogs, something in hindsight I realize was a big mistake, but I was kid and I guess I didn't know better.
Now to the somewhat present... I got out of the Marine Corps about 6 years ago and wanted to get a dog, preferably a German Shepherd. I ended up finding one for sale from a back yard breeder down in Oregon. Not knowing what I know now, we picked one out and took him home. I took him through basic obedience training and worked with him to get him to be a well trained respectable family member. In hindsight I probably didn't spend enough time with him as my wife and I both worked and went to school. At some point during that time, we had a friend who needed some help so she moved in with us for a while and she had a dog. Prior to her moving in, none of our dogs dug and I'm not sure if that's where they picked it up from, but they started digging. She moved on, successfully, but our dogs kept digging and they would escape the yard and go on adventures through the neighborhood. We worked with the dogs on digging but before we could fix the problem, one of those adventures ended in a tragedy and I lost my GSD. It was heartbreaking and I was really upset. My wife felt bad for me and after some time she found a GSD at a local shelter that was in need of rescue. We got that dog not having ANY background on the animal except he was found in the fields extremely underweight. We took on the challenge of rescuing this boy who was probably 4-5 years old. At this point in life, I wasn't home very much finishing college and working full time. He also wasn't house trained, and for some odd reason would eat his own poop (a part of me guesses something to stay alive on out his own, but even being fed two square meals a day he would still do it) Out of respect for dog, and me being stressed out about him not getting enough attention, we re-homed him to a family in Oregon who had 5 acres for him to roam and a family that had more time.
Fast forward to now. I just finished my master's degree and have my evenings and weekends back. My wife's dog passed away after 14 golden years earlier this year so we are planning our next family addition. Here is some background on my family.
My wife and I are in our late 20's and have three kids. Our oldest will be 4 in August 2014, our middle is 2 1/2 (3 in Oct. 2014) and we have a 4 month old baby born Jan of this year. A part of me is a little nervous about having a newly walking toddler with a puppy when it gets big enough to be able to accidentally knock her down by just bumping her, so I may need some advice on how people dealt with that, if it is even a good situation to be in. I am not in a hurry so if it means waiting a year, I could do that.
I work for the government and am at work Mon-Thurs from 6am-4:30pm. My wife stays home with kids and is home a lot during the day, but does run errands for a couple hour block some days out of the week. I don't think her situation would really be amenable to bringing a dog along on her errands from limited space perspective with three car seats in the SUV (with a small trunk area). I personally love the idea of taking a dog along when I am out running errands though.
Our house is in town but on 1.25 acres of mostly grass and some dirt and rock driveway out to the shop. It has a 6 ft fence surrounding the whole property with a concrete foundation. We also have a garden area, that I would plan to try to cordon off somehow. We have 5 chickens that are in a coop surrounded by a 4ft chain link fence. Our house is two stories and we have baby gates for the toddlers on the stairs so our other dog naturally stays down stairs because of the gate.
With that being said in regards to our other animals, we have a 5 year old chihuahua-pug mix that we rescued as little puppy when we moved back (around the same time I got my first GSD that we lost). She is a good dog for the most part, kind of skitish around people she doesn't know, pretty typical of the chihuahua in her I think. She is about 30lbs. I have never taken her through obedience training (honestly I feel like it wouldn't help a ton) but it is something I have been thinking about doing recently, and something I would probably do before we got another animal. We also have about a 1 year old cat, who I swear thinks he is a dog. He comes up stairs because he can jump over the gate, but we try to keep him out of the bedrooms.
From an activity level perspective, we like to stay active. My wife spends a lot of time outside at home and during the summers we like going to the park and the river. Ideally I would like to make it a routine to go for afternoon walks as a family now that I have more spare time, but we haven't implemented that yet. I am planning on going through obedience training and would like to get into some sort of extra curricular activity to the dog. I am not sure I would want to make as big of a commitment as schutzhund, that seems pretty time intensive, but something like agility sounds like fun. The thought of search and rescue sounds fun, but I know that is also a big time commitment. I'm also restrained by what is offered in my area, I am not familiar with everything so that is something I would have to research.
I hope I covered most basis to start a good conversation and prompt more questions if needed. I don't expect a black and white answer on who has the perfect dog for me, but some direction on types with regards to show line or working line and maybe some suggestions to breeders I can start talking in my region. From what I have read I don't think I am looking at an Eastern German High Drive Working Line, but then also not an American Show Line, something in between maybe... but who knows, I could be totally off basis, hence the post :-)
I appreciate any insight any folks can give and thanks again for this resource, it looks like a great site!!
Welcome from the Spokane area! Sounds like you've had some rough patches in regards to past dogs and sorry you lost your one GSD. I know mine learn from watching/playing with each other so that may be why the digging started. Our younger male liked to ram into our females like a bulldozer, they learned to return the favor, injuring his ACL, now we have to keep them separate for play time.
As far as young kids and dogs, we did it, but it's not easy at times and there will be bumps and bruises. Waiting a little longer may not be a bad idea, but that's up to you, only you know what your day to day life is like and what you can honestly handle. Pups are a lot of work, but for us it was fun work, we enjoyed it. Once you get some training into them it starts to get a easier. You could find a place to train with your current dog, might help you learn what else is going on (dog wise) in your area and it'll help if you have some OB on her when you do bring a pup home.
There are a fair number of good breeders in Washington, most of those recommended here are WL, but I would still give them a look, WLs can be great pets. We have one (Czech), he's really been no different to care for than our other two gsds.
Welcome to you! I used to live in Umatilla, OR and work at the depot down there. We too worked 0630 to 1630 4 days a week. I too work for the federal government and was transferred to McAlester AAP 5 years ago.
I love the Tri-Cities and it is on my list for places to retire in about 5 more years. Our son is in Albuqueque which is also my hubby's home town so that is number 1 with Tri-Cities number 2 right now.
Anyway, your life sounds busy but settling. I appreciate your honesty about your past issues with GSD's so I would have to be the one to ask - if the going gets tough with another GSD what will happen to it? They are a breed the needs to be with their family and they need a job, even if that job is protecting the kids and taking a walk every day with their people. What are your plans for the GSD?
I can recommend you strongly consider formal training. The Columbia Basin Dog Training Club in Richland is excellent. I spent many years as a member and club officer. Another place to check out is 4 Paws Dog Works owned by my good friend Dee Nelson. 4 Paws is new and the trainig club also mow conducts classes there.
If you have ever thought about Schutzhund, the Dessert Dogs Schutzhund Club used to meet at Columbia Park on saturday. I know they are very active but am unsure where they meet now. Maybe Courtney will see this and chime in, she is a member there.
You will certainly need to decide about what breeding line works best for your family and insure you find a solid breeder to match your needs to the right pup. You can also look up Washington State GSD rescue. They have had some nice dogs nad can also help match you with a good rescue that has been screened to insure they are suitable for small children.
If you are on Facebook both clubs (and 4 Paws Dog Works) I mentioned have facebook pages and another one called Dog People is for PNW dog people. You can join and probably get some good info. I am on Dog People as well.
Good luck to you.
Also the thought having a GSD as a home alarm/deterrent is comforting. There are times when I have to go on business travel for a few days at a time and the thought of a GSD home with my wife and kids is nice. I am not talking about the formal personal protection route, just the natural protection instincts of the breed and it's family.
I will follow up on references you gave for the local training organizations.
I can get a hold of or pass contact information for Dessert Dogs. Just let me know in a PM and will share.
Good luck in your search for a new family member in the Tri-City area. there are several good breeders in the area.
Hello, and welcome from Idaho! I don't necessarily think your history with the breed precludes you from doing a better, more committed job with your next dog. We do better when we know better, and it sounds like you have been able to at least start the process of "knowing better".
I do wonder how much available time you're going to realistically have, given the fact that you have such young children. Yes, your wife is home during the day. But I am willing to bet that she is not going to have a whole lot of time available for an energetic puppy. She already has a lot on her plate. Do not go into this assuming that she will be able to find the time to work with the puppy during her day. That is NOT fair to her and the effort she is already putting into raising three children under the age of five. Nor is it fair to a young dog that needs an often intense amount of attention.
Spending a lot of time outside is part of the equation. But the other part, the bigger part, is what you're doing with that time outside. A GSD will want to be "doing" something. And if you're doing something that doesn't include interacting with the dog? Unwelcome behaviors can crop up. This is a breed notorious for chasing running children. So if your time outside is built around the children being able to run and scream and act like kids, what will your "fix" be when the puppy starts to run after them, perhaps knocking them down or scratching them or maybe even nipping at them?
Are you and your wife both totally on board and committed to raising a puppy responsibly? Is she going to be okay with the reality of you coming home from work and immediately turning around and working with the dog? Assuming that she isn't going to have much time at all during her day to do it, by the time you get home, you're going to have a pretty bored pup in need of some directed exercise. And that doesn't include the training you would be doing.
The exercise requirements can be crazy with this breed. I don't think a family walk will cut it once the puppy has gotten beyond the initial young puppy phase. When my GSD was a youngster, I could take him on a miles long trail ride and after a nap on the way home, he would be ready for Round Two by the time we got home. He exhausted me. He is eight years old this year, and he now has more reasonable exercise needs. But those first four or five years were rough.
There is a large time commitment to raising a puppy. There have been so many people who have thought they had the time and desire to make that commitment, only to discover there is a huge difference between the hypothetical and the reality.
I would just really caution you to take a step back and really look at your life as it is today, and ask yourself if you and your wife are willing to put in that much time and effort at this point. Would you, your family and ultimately the dog you bring into your home be better served if you waited a couple of years?
Go into it with your eyes wide open. Be honest with each other that no matter how well you plan the details, or how great your intentions are, there are going to be times when it is going to be much more difficult than you thought it would be. And you'll have to push through those times anyway.
I have heard good things about the training clubs mentioned earlier in this thread. And I can recommend a great breeder here in the Boise area. Just really, really put some thought into this.
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