Having a dog as a pet isn’t without its troubles and it’s not all been plain sailing for us.
Sandy, our German Shepard, became a member of our family 7 years ago. We didn’t get her as a pup, instead Sandy was a dog from the dogs home, that’s right she is a rescue dog, a dog without a knowledge of her history or past. We didn’t care, she needed a home and we were smitten.
She was around 5 years of age when we brought her home and the rescue had given us as much information as they could about her. From her medical it looked as though she had been used for breeding and had only recently had a litter, what happened with this litter we do not know? We were advised by the rescue that once she had settled in there might be a few behavioural problems, we were very lucky in that respect as none developed. We had her spayed as soon as we could and then we could relax and she would enjoy her new life with us.
We were very surprised to discover that she knew the simple commands like sit, lie down, paw etc. which was great but we also discovered that she was terrible on the lead to walk. She is a very powerful dog and managed to drag us everywhere; no matter what we tried we couldn’t overcome her pulling on the lead. We had purchased harnesses, different collars and even a device called Halti in a hope that this would help train her to walk like all the other dogs that we meet at the park, but alas our attempts were futile when we discovered that Sandy being a stubborn dog did not like her Halti contraption and was able to escape from this “doggy torture device”. We learned this the hard way, I thought she was behaving on the lead and had a burst of proudness as we walked with no pulling in sight, in reality she wasn’t being a good girl, she had escaped from her Halti and was lay down many yards behind me. This was the start of her rebellious behaviour so we took her to dog training groups & classes.
She interacted perfectly with other dogs and was happy to walk at our side whilst off the lead but as soon as the lead was on, that was it, we were dragged down ditches, through bushes and across shallow rivers and large muddy puddles. We tried all of the tricks like putting her on a longer lead to give her the feeling of being free but she wasn’t fooled. We tried clicker training but she was too smart and decided that the treats were not worth it.
I didn’t understand, we weren’t asking for much, just a nice leisurely stroll without fear of having our limbs dislocated in the process. It wasn’t as though we were trying to teach her new tricks like how to dance (which she wouldn’t do anyway since she is now lazy in her old age) she won’t even play fetch .
I see these other dogs out on walks that carry their own leads and can be trusted to walk alongside their masters, but not our big bertha. She races ahead and can often be seen hitting her snout with her paws whilst walking to remove the new device that we are trying. It has now come to the point that she will refuse to walk, flat out refuse. She will lie down in the middle of the street and will not walk another foot. Have you ever seen a man trying to carry a 7 stone German Shepard? I have and it’s not a pretty sight. We have been beaten, now our walks consist of a ride in the car to the stables or enclosed field where she can run free without that pesky lead.
After our disastrous attempts to get her walking correctly on the lead, I applaud those with well trained dogs and those that I see on Britain’s Got Talent with their amazing dancing dogs that jump through hoops whilst singing on command. As much as I complain about her lack of consideration for us owners whilst walking, she really is a superb dog; she is great with Jasper our playful cat and brilliant with Isabelle the boisterous toddler. I wouldn’t swap her for the world (even if she smells…….a lot) and I have learned to face the fact that we are never going to win any rosettes.