Friday, October 29, 2004

The Dogsitter

Yeah! Mom's finally home. She went on another business trip and Jeff took care of us. Yikes. Jeff and Mom just spent the last 2 hours drinking wine and talking about ME and my "antics". Hey, I missed Mom. I'm afraid of being abandoned again. Jeff says I need a job. It's true. I have way too much energy to have it go to waste. A dog's energy is a terrible thing to waste. Jeff and Mom talked about all the ways I could put my energy to good use. Mom wants to hook me up to a harness connected to a water pump and have my energy power a well and irrigation system. Geez. They are desperate. I just need a kid, or maybe several, that will run around with me and hang all over me. I'm needy for my forever home!

Wednesday, October 27, 2004

The 15 Minutes of Fame

I'm famous! Because today Linda Goldston, reporter for the San Jose Mercury News, wrote about German shepherds and she specifically mentioned me and my blog.

Cynthia Typaldos sent several stories about shepherds and offered readers the chance to check out her dog Sam's blog: Sam is a purebred black German shepherd who lets little dogs boss him around "and doesn't have to be in charge to be happy.''

Please let one of you reading this be interested in adopting me, Sam, the beautiful all-black German Shepherd Dog! I'm looking for my forever family and home.

Read on to learn all about me. To know me is to love me.

Posted on Wed, Oct. 27, 2004
German shepherd owners speak up for the breed
By Linda Goldston

You've heard me say it before: There are no bad pets, but there are many bad pet owners. At the top of that list are people who let their dogs run free, causing all kinds of problems and often injuries for others -- people and dogs.

It makes you feel so helpless when you're out having a wonderful time walking your dog and another dog comes lunging toward you both. My 17-year-old dog, Lucy, and I were very lucky a few months ago when the dalmatian that came after her only knocked the world's sweetest dog to the ground.

The people I wrote about last week wasn't so lucky. After they and their little dog were attacked by a German shepherd running loose, all three had to go to the hospital.

The day the column ran, I heard from numerous German shepherd owners, especially some devoted souls who rescue members of that breed -- shepherds that have been abandoned or given up. They were terrified that writing about a German shepherd attack would make it harder for them to find homes for the dogs they are fostering.

And they worried that my column would give a bad name to what is truly a wonderful breed.

Let me be clear: I love German shepherds and will never forget Max, the 100-pound husky-shepherd mix who will always be the love of my life. But attacks with many kinds of dog breeds do happen, and that's where irresponsible people come in.

If I ran this world, those people would be rounded up in trucks -- similar to the trucks you see picking up stray animals -- and confined for weeks at an animal shelter. Maybe if they got to see the results of so many irresponsible owners -- the thousands of abandoned dogs who have to be killed every year -- they might be a little more responsible with their own dogs.

They might take the time to train their dogs, to socialize their dogs and mainly to love their dogs so they feel secure and not threatened all the time.

But I doubt it. I've noticed that irresponsible dog owners are usually pretty unlikable themselves. So what can we do? The only real power we have is to make sure we report every loose dog.

And as the many devoted lovers of German shepherds and other large dogs would tell you: Don't think all big dogs are alike. They can be as sensitive, lovable, gentle and well-behaved as any pet.

"Boy, did you stir up a wasp's nest on the German Shepherd Rescue list this morning,'' wrote Joni Woodside. "People within the rescue group were incensed that you have set us back in our cause to save and rehome this breed of dog by writing this article.''

I was especially glad to hear from Joni because her late dog, Rocky, a magnificent German shepherd, was the only dog my Lucy has ever loved. She had such a crush on Rocky that she'd get all shy and girlish around him -- not normal behavior for a dog who loves mud puddles and never understands the need for other dogs in the world when she is here.

"So much of what any dog becomes is directly related to what the owners did with them or more importantly what they didn't do, such as training and socializing,'' Joni said. "There is an endless supply of Maxs and Rockys out there, and we are on a mission to save them from the shelters before they are destroyed.''

Joan T. Sullivan wrote to say that people need to know that German shepherds "are partial to fluffy beds, soft pillows and stuffed animals. If more people knew this, they might see them in a different light.''

Cynthia Typaldos sent several stories about shepherds and offered readers the chance to check out her dog Sam's blog: Sam is a purebred black German shepherd who lets little dogs boss him around "and doesn't have to be in charge to be happy.''

I can't say the same for my bearded collie mix, Lucy.

Contact Linda Goldston at

Friday, October 22, 2004

The Tandem Walk

When Mom took Elsa and me for a walk this evening, she put us on the "tandem" leash. One leash connects us and then that leash is hooked to the main leash with the person on the other end.

Elsa and I did great together! We are quite the matched pair. I'm bigger and taller and all black, but Elsa is mostly black and she has a respectable figure. We both have a bit of gray and we act very dignified except when we smell something disgusting...which happens at least once at each house we walk by. But I gotta say we understand the program...we walk forward side by side, quietly with no pulling or barking. At one point we came from behind a parked car and there right in front of us was a woman, her mom, and her teensy-tiny white poode. The poodle strained on its leash and wagged its tail and tried to run up to us but we just stood there impassively, aristocratically accepting the poodle's desperate attempt to kowtow to us. Elsa and I didn't bark, or even move. Then when Mom told us to keep moving forward, we did. Well, Elsa glanced back a few times but not me. A goofy little poodle is not something that evens registers on my interest scale. Later on the walk Elsa's collar came off. Sometimes Elsa just stops dead because something makes her nervous -- usually a change in the pavement. I kept walking and accidentally pulled off her collar. Mom wasn't surprised because she knew Elsa's collar was too loose. Elsa started walking again I guess she thought she'd finish the walk naked! But Mom grabbed her and put her collar back on.

This morning I tried to play with Pumpkin. I got down on the floor in the play crouch, I wagged my tail vigorously, I barked cheerfully, but Pumpkin just gave me the evil eye. Then he jumped at me barking and growling. Well, heck, just forget it. I have better manners and ignored his bad behavior. I'd like to play with him though. He's only 1/4 my size but he's lively and could be a lot of fun. Elsa is my size but she's kind of a slug. Buffy likes to boss me around too much. I hope my forever home has a kid or two. I had a kid of my own before and he played with me all the time!

Thursday, October 21, 2004

The Eating Machine

Mom called me an "eating machine" today. She says she is going to change my nickname from "Sammy" to "Sharky" if I don't change my ways!

Today I had two exciting experiences with food. Mom went food shopping (uh oh you are thinking, doesn't she ever learn?) and brought in the bags one at a time, unloading each one and putting the food away before she went out for the next bag. (Sounds foolproof right? Ha!) However, she left a plastic bag with two apples in it on the counter (Duh!) Mom didn't think I would like apples. But I like everything! I grabbed the bag, one apple fell out but I kept the other. Mom did her best to pry my mouth open -- she didn't care about the apple but she really didn't want me to eat the plastic bag. Yummy is all I can say. I consider the plastic bag to be like whipped cream. Mom was pretty frustrated and she went over and asked Peggy for advice. Peggy is the owner of those two yappy Shelties next door. Peggy sided with me (of course). She said those goofy shelties do the same thing and Mom just needs to be better trained to keep food and plastic bags away from me.

My second fun experience was during dinner. Mom prepared our dinner as usual. She gives Elsa and me each our bowls first, then gives the bowls to the little doggies. I made one of my leaps of joy as Mom was carrying my dish, and I hit the dish with my big nose. The dish, which was ceramic, crashed to the floor and broke into 3 pieces. Elsa and Pumpkin and Buffy and I cleaned up the mess with great enthusiasm. Mom just sighed and picked up the pieces...she was glad there weren't any shards.

Ahhhh...I'm trouble, no doubt about it.

I guess I am kind of like a shark...all mouth and stomach.

Life is good.

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

The Pack Hierarchy

Well, it looks like I'm at the bottom of this pack. Today Buffy (BUFFY!!!) kept a bone from me and he growled and barked at me. Buffy weighs 17 lbs and I weigh 95 lbs. I have never, ever growled or barked at any of my foster sibling doggies. I'm just too easy-going. So I backed off without any shame and let Buffy be selfish. Now Elsa and Buffy push me around.

But you know what -- that's OK with me. I'm very comfortable in my place at the bottom of the pack. Someone's got to do it, and I'm the newest doggy, so it's where I belong. It's not like I don't get as much love and food and treats and toys as everyone else, cause I do (and Mom grabs my big nose all the time which she doesn't do to the others, of course that's partly because my big nose seems to be into a lot of things where it shouldn't be).

Pumpkin doesn't play the "whose on top" game at all. He's an independent dog and he doesn't recognize anyone but Mom as being the leader. There's all styles I suppose and as long as we are each happy in our own canine persona, then life continues to be beautiful.

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

The Hard Boiled Egg

Mom is mad at me. Poor me, I have a nose connected directly to my stomach. It's just the way I am.

What happened is Mom bought a delicious salad at Whole Foods and brought it home to eat (aha, you are thinking, mistake number 1). Mom has wised up to me and when she brought in her salad she put it way, way back on the counter, all the way against the wall (oh, right, mistake number 2). Then she went back out to the car to get the rest of the groceries (geez, will she every learn! mistake number 3). While she was out I put my paws on the counter and made a little leap -- and got a hold of the salad box. (Big surprise, duh) But I'm not completely insensitive, so instead of spilling the entire salad all over the floor, I just picked out the parts that I liked, including a wonderful, tasty, hard boiled egg. When Mom came in and saw the salad still sitting on the counter, although open, and me licking up lettuce on the floor, she wasn't happy but she figured as long as I hadn't knocked the whole thing over she wouldn't be too upset. But when she discovered the egg was missing, she kind of got mad at me. She waggled her finger at me and told me to keep my big nose where it belonged...and it didn't belong in her food.

Aahhh, it's hard being a good dog all day, especially when my nose has a mind of its own.

Sunday, October 17, 2004

The Busy Dog

Yikes, I'm so busy I don't have much time to blog anymore. Ha, you are thinking, a busy dog? That's an oxymoron! We know what doggies do all day -- sleep, go outside to pee and poop, eat breakfast, sleep, bark, sleep, go outside to check the fenceline, sleep, go outside to pee, sleep, bark, sleep, eat dinner, sleep, go for walk, sleep, etc. Well, yes, that's true, but those in-between busy minutes really add up.

I've been on display twice now: Sunday one week ago at Oktoberfest in Cupertino and yesterday at Pet Food Express in Redwood City.

I'm so busy I asked Mom if we could use excerpts of her weekly foster doggy report in my blog:

How do I behave outside the house?

"Sam has been to two rescue events (Oktobertfest and Pet Food Express). He goes for walks and has been to the local Starbucks and tied up outside (with his foster sister Elsa, a 14 yr old GSD). He is very good no matter where he is and despite lots of distractions. He does not startle, lunge, or bark. He is walking better and better on the leash – he was good before but tended to go in circles around me. Now he understands that we are supposed to move forward. My friend, his 9 yr old daughter and I took all 4 dogs for a walk today. Sam was the best-behaved of the bunch. There were two GSDs in the distance and Sam’s ears perked up but he did not attempt to do anything other than look at them. A squirrel ran across the road very close to us and Sam would have liked to chase that squirrel but he barely pulled on the leash then quickly forgot about it."

What's my overall condition?

"Sam is in great condition. He is very lively, active, and alert. He may have a minor eye infection in his left eye. Everyday I have to clean below his eye and the white part looks red. I noticed this when I first got him so it has been going on since then. Since he had a much bigger problem (the pneumonia) I didn’t pay much attention but now I am wondering if there is an infection. He doesn’t rub his eye."

How do I get along with others at home?

"Sam gets along great with my 3 other dogs. I think he may be OK with cats. He is interested them (they are in an outdoor cage) but does not act aggressive with them. The cats are not afraid of dogs. Sam lunges at the birds in the aviary and would not be good with birds. I don’t often have children at the house but a 9 yr old came over today. Sam was very good with her, licked her on the face and loved being petted by her. But he’s awfully big and can be overly rambunctious and mouthy so I would not put him with smaller children, and I think he would do best with children 12 and up (not younger). He does not consider the mailman’s daily visit to be an event worth noting. My other 3 dogs bark like crazy but Sam just looks out at the mailman without any interest. Sam is not a barker except when I am preparing his meals…then he gives little barks of joy."

Saturday, October 09, 2004

The Bagel, Egg, & Swiss Cheese Sandwich

Today I ate half of a bagel, egg, & swiss cheese sandwich. Along with part of a lunchbag.

I'm sure you are wondering why Mom has changed my diet. It wasn't exactly intentional on her part, and it was rather opportunistic on my part. Mom brought home her lunch in a paper bag and put it on the kitchen counter. When she walked over to open the sliding glass door, I couldn't help it, I snatched the bag off the counter. Mom screamed and grabbed me and tried to open my jaws to retrieve her lunch, but I couldn't bring myself to give it up. So I ended up with half of the sandwich (including half of the paper bag) in my tummy. I suppose I was a bad doggy but Mom didn't even get mad at me. She said it was my nature to counter-surf and she should have known better to put something so tempting within my reach. She went and got another sandwich and was super-careful with this one when she brought it home.

Mom went on another business trip on Thursday and Friday and Jeff took care of us again. Jeff says that I am more trouble than the other three doggies combined. Mom laughed but she kind of agreed.

I'm really getting skilled at waking Mom up with the wet nose on the cheek routine. Mom doesn't like me to wake her up so early (is 5am really that early?) but she thinks it's really a cute behavior. She pushes me away but she's always laughing so I come back in a half-hour or so and try it again. Maybe she should just get up and feed us earlier!

Elsa was mean to me today. She's quite the bully if you ask me. Mom was throwing our toys for us to fetch out in the back yard. I'm very good at fetching the toy and bringing it back although I tend to not want to drop it. When I get the toy, because I'm the biggest and fastest doggy, Elsa has a little fit. She gets all mad at me and tries to beat me up. Of course I kowtow to her since she's top dog around here but really I don't know why she has to always be in charge. Mom gets mad at her but Elsa knows Mom is happy to see her so active and alert, given that she's so ancient. So Mom lets Elsa get away with whatever she wants to do. I guess I get away with a lot so I'm not complaining!

Tomorrow is a big day for me. I'm going to the Cupertino Oktoberfest and I will be featured as a foster dog looking for my forever home in the rescue booth. It will be the first time that I will be out in public as an adoptable doggy. Elsa will be coming too...Mom insists on bringing her even though I'm the one that will be the center of attention.

Monday, October 04, 2004

The Elevator Pitch

Mom is writing a new "elevator pitch" about me to put on the San Francisco Bay Area German shepherd Rescue website. I think she should just state that "Sam is the best dog in the whole wide world" but she says that's not enough in terms of details. Elsa, Buffy and Pumpkin objected too and she took their input seriously.

Here's what the website says now:

10 year-old male

Ams is a lovely old gentleman....calm, quiet, gentle, has lived with 11 year old kids, and he is fine with other dogs. He had been an outside dog, and was surrendered when his family moved and the landlord would not allow a big dog. Now he is an inside dog, which he appreciates! Ams has acquired basic good house manners, and is easy to be with in the home. He is a big boy, and has some arthritis, but is doing well on glucosamine supplements. Fostered in Saratoga.

As you are no doubt a regular reader of my blog, clearly that description, written a month ago, does not properly describe ME, Sam, "the best dog in the whole wide world".

Here's Mom's draft, feedback is welcomed (as long as it confirms that I am "the best dog in the whole wide world").

Draft of Sam's New Elevator Pitch

Ams (a.k.a. Sam or Sammy) is a lively, adaptable, clever, and personable 10-year old all-black GSD. Sam has lived with 11 year old kids, and he is fine with other dogs. He had been an outside dog, and was surrendered when his family moved and the landlord would not allow a big dog. Now he is an inside dog, which he appreciates! Sam has acquired basic good house manners, and is easy to be with in the home. He is a big boy (94lbs), and may have some arthritis, but does not show any obvious symptoms.

Sam gets along famously with his 3 doggy siblings, whose ages are 4, 7, and 14 yrs and are also various sizes - 17, 23, and 80 lbs. The older, larger dog (Elsa) is a female GSD and Sam allows her to dominate the household. Since Elsa needs to be the boss, Sam has been a great inspiration for her to give up her couch-potato ways and become more active. Sam and Elsa interact in a very playful way and when necessary, Elsa puts Sam in his place. Sam also interacts with the smaller dogs appropriately but he is particularly fond of Elsa. There is an aviary in the back yard and Sam would clearly not be good with small parrots. There are also two cats in a separate enclosed area. Sam regularly touches noses with them thru the wire mesh but it is not clear what his behavior would be without the barrier.

Sam is an outgoing, happy-go-lucky dog with a strong urge to be useful. His chores include housekeeping (counter-surfing, putting loose items in a pile), alarm clock services (a big wet nose in the face at 6am), fence border patrol (2 territorial Shelties live next door), and playing catch (he's very good at this). He is not a chewer or destructive, but anything left around will no doubt end up in his hoarding pile, or if it is at all edible, in his stomach. Sam is not a barker, and is very calm on a leash even when strange dogs and people are nearby.

Sam is extremely intelligent -- he figured out how to open the gate in a week (now tied with bungee cords), was housebroken in two days (he had been outside all his life previously), and started using the doggy door in less than 24 hours. He knows that nothing really good (e.g. dinner or a treat) will happen unless he sits, and he doesn't jump up (although he does make little leaps of joy when mealtime is near). He is not possessive about anything, including his food dish, and does not attempt to eat out of another dog's bowl.

Sam is a strikingly beautiful dog with a shiny black coat and a sunny personality. Despite his age, he is very energetic and needs daily physical activity. Sam is a bit mouthy and would benefit from (and no doubt love) a basic training class. For more about this wonderful dog, please visit Sam's blog.

Fostered in Saratoga.

Sunday, October 03, 2004

The Eyeglasses

Today I was a bad, bad dog. Sometimes I do things that don't make any sense, even to me. Well, what happened was Mom was carrying some dishes and a plastic bag that used to have cheese in it. She accidentally dropped the plastic bag which of course I went after. I love cheese flavored plastic. When she bent over to grab the plastic bag out of my mouth, one of the lenses in her glasses fell out. Mom kept going after the plastic bag because she figured that is what I was interested in. So, I grabbed the lens, made out of glass, and chomped on it. I broke it and ended up eating some of it. Mom was pretty mad at me, both because I could make myself sick, and because now she has to spend real $$$ to fix something I broke. I would feel guilty if I knew I was a bad dog, but it all happened so fast I didn't really understand what I did was wrong.

I had a bath in the shower today. I was a good dog when I was taking my bath.

Maybe a doggy can only be good for a part of the day?

Saturday, October 02, 2004

The Business Trip

Wow, you are thinking -- Sam went on a business trip! Actually, no. Mom went on a business trip and left us home alone! Well, actually, no. Not home alone. Jeff took care of us. But then Jeff had to go away too and we all ended up in the kennel. Elsa, Buffy and Pumpkin went to one kennel, at Pet's Friend Animal Clinic, but they were completely full so I went to another kennel, at Alta Vista Animal Hospital. I was so glad to see Mom when she came to pick me up! Elsa, Buffy and Pumpkin were already in the car and I was happy to be reunited with them. So happy that during the trip home I jumped over the back seat to be with Elsa, and then I tried to jump over the next seat, to be with Buffy and Pumpkin, but I got stuck. Somehow I ended up with my hind legs in Elsa's seat and my front legs in Buffy and Pumpkin's seat, and one of the seat belts around my middle. Mom couldn't believe I could get into trouble so quickly. It took her awhile to untangle me once we got home.