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!!