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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Good morning everyone. Although I don't have my puppy quite yet (on a waiting list for an upcoming litter) I figured I would drop in and say hello. I'm working with Blackthorn in Barboursville, VA and, provided the upcoming litter lines up with what I'm looking for, I should have a new puppy in mid April.

I'm an avid runner and OCR athlete and I serve as an ambassador for one of the major OCR companies. Ideally, I'm looking for a running companion and a dog that can work in an emotional support capacity. It is very common for new runners to feel overwhelmed at races and a friendly dog cheers everyone up. Needless to say, I'm looking for a dog with high endurance who is also very comfortable with lots of human contact.

I've had a GSD mix in the past but this will be my first pure-bred shepherd. My GSD mix was a stray rescue from Colorado so I have some experience with training, but I know my new guy will be a completely different ball game. I'm head-over-heels excited and appropriately nervous.
 

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Welcome!

OK, OCR is Obstacle Course Racing and not Optical Character Recognition, I guess!
So you are the human version of an agility dog...cool! :)

Congratulations on the impending puppy - Exciting!

On the "lots of human contact" - there, you may find that your GSD is not as friendly to strangers as you would like?
But you can mention to breeder...
 

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I also agree that if all the human contact is a must, you may want to go with a little different of a breed


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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Haha yes, in this case, OCR stands for Obstacle Course Racing. I compete in everything from 5K events to 24-hour ultra runs. No, I'm not expecting my dog to keep up or even participate in the ultra-long events but he'll have exposure to the full spectrum of races and competitors. Appropriately enough, I've told the breeder I'm interested in agility but that it's a secondary concern to my primary need for endurance and human comfort.

I made the need for human contact very clear when I was discussing temperament with my breeder. The upcoming litter that I'm looking at comes from a bitch that has produced very friendly dogs in the past and an even-tempered stud. Both dogs have produced very active puppies so we're thinking this litter should line up with the temperament I'm looking for.

Just to clarify, I'm not planning to parade my dog through big crowds on a regular basis. I can't imagine he'd be any more comfortable in that setting than me. I want a friendly dog but at the end of the day, it's a German Shepherd, not a Golden Retriever.
 

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Are you able to meet the mother and father dogs in advance to see their friendliness/temperament?

My last GSD was very mild mannered and friendly to all people in a mannerly way. My current GSD is super friendly
to all people and even jumped in the Fed Ex delivery truck to go home with the guy. But I've seen many GSDs who
are not friendly at all to strangers. If that's important to you, I definitely would want to see the parents and check
their friendliness quotient before I committed to a puppy.

my previous neighbor had a beautiful GSD but she was so unfriendly and scarey I had to refuse to dog sit her to my wonderful neighbors. I simply did not trust her.
 

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I think I've seen your name in the Blackthorn Group on Facebook. Welcome!
I have great faith in Christine for a puppy. I own two from her and regularly visit her kennel to help with things down there (and to pick her brain). Both very solid temperaments and strong nerves (I believe my male is more sound than my female, however), very open with people and very athletic. What litter are you potentially looking at - one out of Pirate? If she hasn't already, she will ask you to visit to meet the dam and to talk. I'm not sure if the sire will be meetable since she usually chooses an outside stud. The one she has been talking with me about for Pirate is local though, so maybe, but I don't think she has made a final decision on the stud for Pirate's final litter.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
I went down to meet Christine and her dogs back in October. Pirate was actually her original suggestion based on what I'm looking for. She said that Riot x Bee could also be a good choice and that's the litter we're looking at right now. If none of those puppies seem to be a good fit, Pirate's last litter might be a good option.

I also have very good faith in Christine. What I saw when I went down in October was very comforting and her dogs are absolutely gorgeous. I also have a good friend from college that works raising and training service dogs. She's worked with a shepherd from Blackthorn and has nothing but the best things to say. It may not be the Riot x Bee litter but I'm confident in finding a good fit from Blackthorn.
@Orphan Heidi, I haven't had the chance to meet Bee (the mother) yet but I've met several of the other dogs at Blackthorn. Riot, the stud, is a police dog from a different county. I'm trying to set up a day where I can drive out to meet Riot and then make the trek south to meet Bee and talk things over with Christine. I'm excited and want to get everything lined up but even best case scenario, this litter works and I bring home a puppy in late April. There's hardly a rush to meet the parents.
 

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Welcome to the forum. What age are you planning to start running the dog with you? Puppies should not run the kinds of distances you are talking about until 12 months. Are you planning to work with a trainer on the best way to socialize the dog to large groups of people? They go through fear periods and if done incorrectly during those time, it won’t get you where you want to be.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Welcome to the forum. What age are you planning to start running the dog with you? Puppies should not run the kinds of distances you are talking about until 12 months. Are you planning to work with a trainer on the best way to socialize the dog to large groups of people? They go through fear periods and if done incorrectly during those time, it won’t get you where you want to be.
Thank you for the concern :). I've given the running a good amount of thought. My pooch won't be doing any running at all until he's at least 6 months old. Unless my vet directly tells me that running would be good for him, I'm drawing a hard line at 6 months. Jumping the gun and starting them early puts puppies at high risk for growth plate, bone, and muscular damage. Then, just like people, going from short jogs straight to long runs is just bad news. We'll slowly build up with short runs but he won't see the distances I was talking about until ballpark 2 years. I'll let his vet be the final judge but don't worry, I won't be rushing it.

I'll definitely work with a trainer but like the running, that's several months down the road. I'll start basic training and socialization right away but nothing formal for a while.
 

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Welcome, and congratulations on your upcoming puppy! I'm sure that Christine will be able to select a puppy that will be perfect for your needs. I've had GSDs for over 30 years (we're on #6 right now), and all of them have been varying levels of social. My current girl Cava will be two years old in about a month, she's currently in training for flyball. I raced my previous girl Halo for 5 years before I had to retire her and ultimately lose her to DM.

My most important criteria for a puppy were good drives as a sport prospect but also a stable, social dog that we can take anywhere and is comfortable being handled by other people. Cava is all that and more. A lot of the early training in flyball is restrained recalls and I needed a dog I can hand off to other people to restrain for me. Sometimes we have people from other clubs training with us, so she's not only lining up with people she knows well, or even at all. We've also taken her to brewpubs with outdoor eating areas, wineries, and large music festivals and she enjoys meeting people. One time several years ago I hurt my back at a tournament and one of my teammates raced Halo for me all day. After the first bit of confusion as to why I was standing off to the side in the runback and someone else had her tug, she was totally fine running for Mollie. I have no doubt that it would be the same with Cava if I was ever not able to race her myself for some reason. Christine seems to know her lines very well, so she'll steer you right.
 
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