Please forgive my radio silence for the past couple of days, Dogsters. I was busy falling in love, and the experience has been emotionally exhilarating – and exhausting at the same time. I was, quite frankly, too spent to write a column about it until now!
Imagine if your childhood crush suddenly leapt off the pages of, say,Tiger Beat, appeared on your doorstep ready to move in with you, and the two of you immediately bonded in a symphony of perfectly requited love. What if, instead of a recycling bin full of empty Natural Balance pet food cans,you suddenly had the cuteness equivalent of actor Dick Van Patten’s heartthrob son Vincent, circa 1978!
Well, that’s pretty much what happened to me last week.
It all started when I received the latest series of alerts from my local animal shelter, Animal Care & Control of New York City, describing dogs at high risk for euthanasia. One in particular caught my eye: “Jassy,” described as a geriatric German Shepherd Dog.
For as long as I can remember, I have longed for a German Shepherd to call my own. This desire may be laid at the feet of the Bionic Woman, a.k.a. Jaime Sommers, a.k.a. the idol of my teenage years. Her faithful sidekick was a bionic K9 named Max, short for Maxamillion. Max was a German Shepherd – and a beauty. I wanted to emulate absolutely everything about Jaime Sommers, including her style ofdog.
At around the same time, another four-footed TV star captured my imagination: The K9 star of the series “Run Joe Run,” a K9 version of “The Fugitive,” about the exploits of a misunderstood German Shepherd wrongly accused of a crime he did not commit.
More recently, when I entered my hardcore cinephile phase, I became enamored of the most celebrated German Shepherd Dog of them all: Rin Tin Tin. This four-footed film star rose from humble beginning – an American serviceman rescued the dog from a bombed-out French kennel – to earn a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, and a place in cinematic legend.”Rinty” is also the subject of a new biography by the noted author Susan Orlean, Rin Tin Tin: The Life and the Legend.
If you follow this column, you know that I’m a huge fan of J.R. Ackerley’s book My Dog Tulip and the wonderful animated feature film adapted from it. I recently joined the HowCast team, where I’m happy to help viewers get acquainted with various K9s through the “Understanding Dog Breeds” video series – and of course, the German Shepherd video was one of my favorites to work on.
Being an advocate of shelter dog adoption, I refuse to ever acquire a German Shepherd, or any dog,from a breeder. But the good and bad news is that animal shelters are often crowded with Shepherds and Shepherd mixes. And last week, the day before July 4th, a lovely female GSD washed up at my local shelter, so I pounced.
Desiree, as I’ve named her, is gorgeous but thin as a social X-ray. Turns out she’s not geriatric at all – she was just in such sorry shape at intake that she appeared much older than her actual age (which, to judge from her pearly-white teeth, is approximately one year old).
And yet, despite her emaciated condition, she’s quite discriminating when it comes to food, if not downright finicky. It’s not easy getting the nutritional supplements she needs into her, for if the food formula isn’t just right, she’ll reject the lot. But thus far Desiree has been accepting Natural Balance kibble mixed with Natural Balance canned food, plus canned organic pumpkin (to firm up her stools), a sprinkle of cinnamon, a splash of Tropical Traditions coconut oil, plus numerous other supplements, including Nordic Naturals Pet fish oil.
More importantly, to my amazement, Desiree gets along famously with all the dogs in my animal house and all the dogs she encounters at the dog park. At some point in high school, the summer reading list sported a racy read called Summer of My German Soldier. Well, the hottest season of 2011 is officially going down in my personal history book as the summer of my German Shepherd! Her presence is charming – like having a winsome wolf prowl your premises.
I’m besotted with this beautiful bitch, and will keep you posted on her progress.