Had it in my mind today not to even do a post because one of my rules is if you got nothin’ to say it may be best to just not say it. But then I got to thinkin’ if I didn’t post some of y’all might think I was layin’ beside a mesquite stump dead of heatstroke or maybe bit by a buzz tail; so I figured it best to check in.
Vela Von and I just returned from our first walk of the day -3/4 mile and it will be repeated twice more before the day is over. We do it every day and the mid day walk is a killer in this heat but we persevere. A good dog shouldn’t be a couch puss and I need the exercise as well. The summer heat in the Puckerbrush just is what it is and you deal with it or go home. Simple. Vela Von gets a couple of ice cubes when we get back inside the NO Princess Palace. I grab a Camelbak Eddy Bottle (1-Liter/33-Ounce) full of cold Crystal Light On The Go Energy Grape water and suck it down pronto. I try to drink six bottles a day this time of year. Some of the Crystal Lights have caffeine and some not. One thing about it, they sure make this ol’ Puckerbrush water easier to swaller down.
Vela Von will be 9 months old next week and it has been a trip since I picked her up the day after Christmas. I know now I was woefully unprepared to take responsibility for a dog the likes of which I have never known. Working dogs are just different and I know now there are even different degrees of working within that definition. Tuco the Dog was a Gordon Setter and she was a working dog but not like Vela Von – not even close. This GSD is like a tight-coiled tempered spring that explodes in your face if you so much as look at it. Took some gettin’ used to; let me tell ya.
I went to the innerwebs to try and find some answers about how to deal with this supersonic buzz saw that was a dog and I landed on the German Shepherd Forum and started digging. Now listen, I am no stranger to online forums since I started doing this type deal back in the late 80’s when USENET was as good as it got. I have never,ever,no way, no how dealt with a group of folks that were so over the top full of they ownselves as these GSD forum folks. Now I have gotten some good tips off the forum but if you was to listen to them, your GSD has to look just so and it must be fed in a certain fashion and you should never so much speak to the dog unless you talk total German at the animal. Christ on a cracker, these folks are unbelievable! It is so bad that I have never posted so much as a single word on there because I refuse to be subject to the ridicule and public embarrassment that is commonplace. Vela Von’s mama and daddy don’t have a bunch of trophies and letters after their names and I highly doubt you could trace her lineage back to Hitler’s personal kennel so she is obviously a plainly inferior animal. As BFF Cait would say “F that noise.” My pup has no idea she is a vastly inferior animal (LOL; as if) and I refuse to accept the whole premise. Let me tell ya somethin’ – Dogs ain’t much different from kids. You pay attention to them, you make ’em behave and you love ’em and they will be the best they can possibly be. It ain’t rocket science.
BFF Cait’s GSD Stark is a talented animal and when she relates his latest accomplishment it always makes me a skosh bit jealous. Vela Von started out behind the eight ball when her original purchasers did not make good on the deal and she spent another 30 days in puppy limbo at her breeders. Hey pup, I got there as quick as I could, OK? Vela Von has always been a bit behind because she started out behind.
I started The Pup out on an e-collar (Garmin Delta Sport XC Bundle – dog training device) at 6 months old and it was a sound decision. A dog handler must be schooled up on training a dog using an e-collar. Most folks will use them to punish the animal for somethin’ they do wrong. Little Blondie did that with Tuco the Dog right out of the gate and it ruint her for e-collars. You could take the collar out and lay it on the counter and the dog would run and hide. No bueno that – for damned sure. An e-collar is used to reinforce a desired action and to use one to effectively train a high spirited animal, you gotta be smarter than the dog. Sadly, some folks fail that test. Tuco the Dog would talk Chinese for a dog treat; Vela Von could care less. All dogs are different and that is a fact, Jack.
When I decided I was not going to train Vela Von in proper fashion nor teach her to speak German, we got down to business. Every morning, that e-collar gets strapped on and then she makes every step I do until the day is done. We do us some specific dog trainin’ and we do some trainin’ that basically amounts to simply tuning in to what is going on. If she messes up, we work it out. Sometimes, she does something particularly heinous and I will cuss out loud pretty bad. Seems like when I holler “shit” with evident displeasure, she looks for the closest hidey hole. Don’t happen often but dogs will be dogs.
BFF Cait told me that when these dogs get to be about 8 months old, they wake up one morning and decide they are going to be a different dog – a more better dog. Vela Von woke up that way about 3 weeks ago and I decided it was time for her to start Big Dog School. From the day Vela got to the NO Princess Palace, she had never gone outside without being on her Flexi Leash. Hell, we are right here 40 yds off a busy highway and there is a 1000 acres on the backside she could disappear into. No way, no how was I going to let her just run helter skelter. I rarely leashed Tuco the Dog back in the day but then again, she was years older and knew the routine inside out. I never fretted her being off leash. I just did not have that level of comfort with the new pup but I also knew she could not work on a leash her entire life and be a real dog.
So when Vela Von woke up a different dog a few weeks back I decided now was as good a time as any to leave that leash behind. It wasn’t an easy decision let me tell ya. I had visions of her runnin’ out on to the highway and getting splattered or chasin’ a bunny off into the Puckerbrush; never to be seen again. Sometimes you just gotta take that leap of faith and do it or a dog is never goin’ to be a real dog. Me and The Pup have been workin’ off leash for almost 3 weeks now and it has been a huge success. Seems to me she pays even more attention to me now since she has no leash on to provide guidance.
Funny thing; we are just eat up with sticky burrs here. It used to hobble Tuco the Dog so bad she would just set down until I came to her rescue. With Vela Von off leash, she runs willy nilly amongst the stickers and I cannot tell you the last time I had to pick one off her feet. She just deals with it. Of course, this is the only world she has ever known so she has no idea she is an exceptional animal. I would like to see some of those star dogs off that forum come down here and do their stuff. Yeah, I would like to see me some of that.
Late in the day when both of us is pretty much give out about the best I can manage is to sit here at the dinette and watch some DISH TV. Somehow, Vela Von finds the energy to crawl up on the seat beside me. She will let out a long breath and put her head in my lap and there she will be till bedtime. I know then everything is good in dog world. Ain’t too shabby in my world either.
End Note: Feelin’ Alright by Joe Cocker from the album With a Little Help From My Friends
Youtube from his live performance at Woodstock. Hard to imagine it was almost 50 years ago and those that were there are mostly collecting Social Security – or dead. Joe Cocker died in 2014. I just don’t feel that old myself.