Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Ode to a German Shepherd Dog

My dog just turned 3 this month. He is a 90 pound German Shepherd Dog. We named him Orso. Orso means “Bear” in Italian. He is my big bear and I love him so much.

We decided to get a dog when we moved into our house and there had been some break-ins. Since my husband is the one that’s home during the day, and would be spending the most time with the dog, and I would love the dog no matter what, I made him decide on what kind of dog to get. He was looking a labs and labs are so, I don’t know, DOOFY. And common. And big. I didn’t want a lab. When I was researching breeds, I came across the German Shepherd Dog, and thought that would be the kind of dog DH would like because they’re so intelligent and so obedient. So DH flipped to a German Shepherd Dog website and the first page had a picture of two GSD puppies and he was sold.

Did you know that the German Shepherd Dog is the only breed with the word Dog in the name of the breed? Fun Fact.

I completely took myself out of the decision process and let my husband find a breeder and puppies and pick a dog.

That’s how we got Orso.

While my DH did the potty training, takes him to the groomer and the vet, and arranges his stays in the kennel when we travel where we can’t take Orso, I do the rest. I walk him, feed him, let him out, brush him and clean up after him when he tracks mud into the house. I knew that this would happen and I’m okay with it.

Orso is a good dog. He turned out to be a LOT bigger than I had anticipated, (male GSDs usually top out at 80 lbs) but he’s such a lover. Everyone in our family is tall, so it makes sense that we have a tall dog. He’s the tallest German Shepherd Dog I’ve ever seen. His head comes up to my hip and I’m 5’8”. It’s very convenient, because I don’t have to bend over to give him a scritch behind the ears.

He has a very intimidating bark. He sounds like he is trying to take you down and eat you. That is EXACTLY how we want him to sound to strangers. Since he’s so huge, he doesn’t even have to bark to appear intimidating, so the bark is quite the bonus. My DH never has to fear when I take Orso for a walk in the early morning or late evening when it’s dark.

I took Orso with me to go and return a Red Box movie at our local convenience store awhile ago. It was late and dark. Our neighbourhood is rather safe, I was just taking Orso with me so that he could get some exercise. While I was at the Red Box, there were some drunk guys hanging out by their cars in the parking lot. Orso was obediently sitting beside me while I returned the movie when one of them made to approach me. Orso jumped to attention and started barking in the guys face. It was so awesome. The guy looked so scared that I’m pretty sure he peed his pants. He did his job and boy did he get some treats and love for protecting me like that. I’m pretty sure I could have handled some drunk dude, it’s not like I haven’t had the experience before, but it sure was nice to have Orso by my side to do the job for me. And like I said, the look on the guys face – awesome. Also, Orso could tell that he had done a good job and that he is one badass mofo of a dog. I could tell by the way he pranced as we walked home. He kept turning to me as if to say, “I did a good job, didn’t I, Mom?” He’s a good boy.

Badass, big, mean bark, protectiveness aside, Orso is the biggest love you’ve ever met. Once he knows you are okay, he wants to be your best friend. I don’t think he knows how big he is. He’s like a Great Dane that way. He thinks he’s a lap dog. He likes to “sit” in my lap when I watch TV. He knows he’s not allowed on the couch, so he does this by leaning against the side of the couch and putting his head in my lap. His entire head fills my lap. He also likes to “snuggle” with me when I’m in bed reading or writing. He knows he’s not allowed on the bed, so he just wriggles his head under my arm and rests on the side of the bed. He lays on the floor in our TV room and spoons with Huey (laying down, they are about the same size). He adores the boys and would never do anything to hurt them.

I had to run some errands and Dewey wasn’t feeling well, so I left him at home alone. I was only gone 20 minutes. When I came home, I found Dewey sitting at the top of the stairs with Orso sitting dutifully next to him, like best buds.

This dog lives to do what he’s told. He also lives to see what he can get away with. If he knows that I’m paying attention, he will “leave it” for half an hour or longer. “Leave it” is the command for him to not touch something that he’s not allowed to have, i.e. a used Kleenex that he “rescued” from the garbage. All I have to do is give the command. If he starts to waver, all I have to do is say “Ah!” and he goes back to obeying. This does not mean that he doesn’t try a dozen times to nose the Kleenex or do whatever else he’s not supposed to be doing. My favourite is when I see him trotting down the hallway because he’s been off doing something that he wasn’t supposed to be doing. He has the most hilarious guilty face. Dude can’t lie. It’s awesome.

He is also very beautiful. His tan is a dark red colour and his face is almost all black. He has these “please love me” eyes - the perfect puppy dog face. I fell in love with his face the first time I saw him. His ruff is so fluffy it’s almost like a lion’s mane. The only thing wrong with him is that his left ear never stood up. He has a section of his ear where the cartilage never fully developed, so his ear flops over. It drives my husband crazy, and he can’t not talk about how much he hates the dog’s floppy ear. When Orso’s ears are both up, he looks like the most noble, beautiful prince that ever was.

I love my big huge Orso-doggy.

Orso and I after our walk on his third birthday

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