Dog Stories (I): Desi (1992-2001)

I’m a German Shepherd lover and fan. If you’ve read the “About” page, you’ll know that all the dogs I’ve had have been German Shepherds or German Shepherd crossbreeds. I thought that it’d be interesting to write one post for each of the dogs that have been an important part in my life. This will probably give you a better overview of the breed itself and how I came to love it.

I’ll begin with the first one: Desi. You can read the second post in the series here.

The First Dog

Desi was the first dog I really interacted with. Born in July 1992, my parents and I picked her up at the breeder when she was five months old. At the time I was a child and knew nothing about dogs. Had this happened now, it would have raised some alarms – a puppy that has stayed at the breeder for so long may have some issues.

The only thing I remember from her first day with us is that, after eating her dinner, she relieved herself in the kitchen. My mum and I evacuated it while my father cleaned up the mess, as it really stunk. Her stomach was probably upset due to the stress of getting into a new home.

Training

Desi stayed with us for a couple of months and then went back to the breeder for training. I don’t remember how long she stayed there, but I do know that some weekends we drove there and my father practised whatever it was that she had been taught. I have a memory from that time: my mum and I hidden in the office while watching the training. During this time, the breeder already warned us that she was a fearful dog, and that she should be socialized.

When Desi came back from the training, she had learnt some basic commands, such as “Sitz”, “Platz” (Down) and “Fuß” (Heel). I don’t think we ever used the training much, honestly. She became a home dog. She loved all of us, but my father was her favourite. In retrospect, it makes sense, as it was him who always fed and played with her when he came back home for lunch.

Fun Times

She’d let me take pictures of her wearing a hat, which she didn’t like…

I have very fond and funny memories from that time. There was that one time that my grandma was cooking some kind of meat on the grill, and the meat suspiciously disappeared. Or the day my mum left a packet of butter on the kitchen table, and when she realised she hadn’t put in the fridge, the butter (and its wrap) were gone. A few hours later, Desi threw up the whole thing. There was that other time that we were having lunch in the dining room, and Desi decided she much preferred lying on the sofa rather than the floor, so she jumped up on it, even though she wasn’t allowed. Or how she’d run away whenever she saw me with a spray of dog deodorant.

During summer, we would sometimes drive to a river and she’d swim there. She loved it. She fetched sticks and even dived underwater to catch them. My dad would also take her with him whenever he went to work in the vegetable garden. She would stay close to him and never run away.

Not everything was perfect…

Desi also liked fetching sticks

Desi had her issues as well. For example, she was possessive of her balls and wouldn’t let anyone, other than my father, get them. I don’t think she growled, but whenever I went near her and she had her ball with her, she’d quickly pick it up and leave. Whenever new people came to the house, she’d start barking furiously. My grandma always got very nervous when this happened, and she’d ask us to close the doors so that Desi wouldn’t bother whoever it was that was visiting. I think this was a mistake, as it made the whole situation even more strange to the dog.

Many years later, when I was a teenager, I realised that behind all the barking there was just one very scared dog. A friend from school came to visit, and I warned her that Desi would bark at her, but that she shouldn’t be afraid. Being a dog lover, instead of being scared by the barking, she decided to pet her when the opportuniy arouse. Result? A small puddle of pee.

Health and Old Age

Healthwise, I don’t think she suffered from any major illnesses, other from some skin condition. She was itchy and several times during her life she had the bottom part of her back with almost no hair. Close to the end of her life, I do remember that my dad had to take her once to the vet because of some kind of emergency (my mum and I were away) but she more or less recovered.

It’s true, though, that she became grumpier as she grew older. I always said goodnight and patted her head before going to bed, but towards the end she didn’t want to be disturbed and growled a little, so I stopped doing it altogether.

To this day, we don’t know what killed her. My mum found her dead one morning, so we believe it was a heart attack. Despite the sadness, it was lucky (in a way) that she died in her sleep, as she didn’t suffer.

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