Just adopted an 11 month old GSD
I have been using forums my entire adult life to learn and share information with/from others. I am pleased to find a forum dedicated to these beautiful dogs so I could share my story and stories to come.
My name is Jared and me and my family live in Stanwood Washington My wife (Tina) and my 11 year old daughter and I just adopted "Jake" from CASA (Camano Animal Shelter Association). CASA is out on Camano Island and about 10 minutes from our home. Jake is 11 months old and is an AKC registered GSD. Although they did have his papers on hand, they are being destroyed as is the policy of the shelter.
Sadly we buried our 13 yr old Cocker Spaniel/Rat Terrier mix "Billie Jean" this last Wednesday. She had some medical issues compounded by a recent stroke and rather than have her suffer we decided to put her to sleep. This although being really hard for me, was the best course of action to take. Friday after work I started doing an online search at the local shelters for another barker.
A little background...... although I have never owned a GSD in my adult life (I'm 37) I grew up with them as my father has almost always had one. I am familiar with the breeds temperament and the extra work that can be required with the breed........ especially when you own a male GSD.
We signed the papers for him and paid the adoption fee today and will bring him home after work on Wednesday. Tomorrow he is being dropped off at the vet to be neutered, chipped, and an overall wellness checkup. His previous owner took very good care of him and they handed over all of his paperwork and medical records when they surrendered him to the shelter. Apparently they just didn't have the time to spend properly training him..... which is too bad because he seems very intuitive.
My first meeting with Jake was on Saturday morning as soon as the shelter opened. As I figured would happen he just pretty much barked at me for the first 5 minutes and had a ton of anxiety. At one point he attempted to jump 3 feet through a closed viewing window. He started to settle down and took up residence on a bench under the window and that is when I went to work with him.
I spent probably 20 minutes just walking towards and then away from him bouncing a tennis ball the entire time. After it got to the point where he wasn't constantly focused on me, while still bouncing the ball I would offer him a treat. Initially he wouldn't take them...... and it went like that for a few more minutes. Eventually he did take a treat from me and I just continued that back and forth motion bouncing the ball and offering a treat when I reached him. I think I gave him 5 of these little venison jerky treats during this walking back and forth. My last time back towards him I stroked him behind the ears and walked away. He was paying attention to me again for sure now. Walked back towards him with a treat and sat down next to him on the bench. He took the treat, then stuck his nose in my ear and tried to lick my brains out...... then he did it to the other side (I guess to even them out) and was bouncing and running all around my lap.
Success! Went ahead and threw the tennis ball for him for about 15-20 more minutes and decided it was time to go. The gals working the desk were impressed by the fact he warmed up to me at all as there had been 3 other families come see him and they didn't really make any progress....... but that didn't stop them from filling out adoption papers for him..... go figure. I told them he could be kenneled and that I would be back in a few hours. I came back as promised and the dog from the initial encounter was completely transformed. He tried to knock me over when I came back through the door into the yard!! I put a leash on him and took him for a short walk and was encouraged by the fact that he had obviously spent some time on a leash...... but he needed a little more work. He is after all still a young dog.
Fast forward to today. Initially it was just my wife and I that went to see him this morning. He was completely indifferent to my wife and warmed up to her almost immediately. Decided the next step needed to be a meet and greet with our other dog "Harley". Harley is also 13 like Billie Jean but is full blooded Cocker....... all black....... and he's a lot of fun to trip over in the middle of the night. I stayed with Jake while Tina drove back home to pick up our daughter and Harley and they had a really good meeting. Jake wanted to play, Harley wanted to play, and at that point ALL of our minds were made up...... including the girls at the shelter. We got bumped to the top of the list and signed the papers and paid the fee. Jake is already reacting as I am the authority figure. After the butt sniffing and bouncing around during the meet and greet, Jake laid down at my feet and would just glance up at me from time to time whist us humans were talking amongst ourselves.
I am really excited for Wednesday. I will be sure to let everyone know about his initial encounter with his new home and am happy to be a new GSD owner.