If you asked me several months ago my opinion about dogs, my answer would have been “meh.”
That’s not to say I disliked dogs. I have met certain ones I love, but I didn’t see myself having one. It’s possible that’s because my experience with dogs was watching people get dragged down the street by them and constantly picking up poop. It was a life that wasn’t for me, I thought.
Until I met Forest and River.
Forest was first. My sister’s family decided to get an 8-week-old German Shepherd puppy. I happened to be living with them at the time, and I really did not care for the furry child who had entered the home. Forest peed and pooped everywhere, and then there was all the biting and the chewing and the howling. I swear, dog care books conveniently downplay the actual reality of daily puppy life, which is mostly that they chew on everything. And that’s usually you.
That all changed when I went with my brother-in-law and niece when they took Forest to a trainer. Watching Forest learn things and seeing how smart he was changed my entire outlook on dogs. I never truly realized what they were capable of and how eager they were to learn. I never realized how easy it is to teach them, and what kind of bond it built between you and your pet.
Needless to say, that’s the moment that, just like a flea, I got bit by the dog bug. I devoured books and YouTube videos on behavior, training and breed history. I quickly taught Forest a variety of tricks and trained certain behaviors, like not pulling me down the street when we went for walks. I took a lot of photos and videos and looked into “I love my GSD” shirts. I was obsessed.
However, there was only one problem with my newfound love: Forest was my sister’s family’s dog, not mine. As much as I loved Forest and wanted him as my own, he wasn’t. So I yearned for the day I could get my own.
Not soon after, I met River.
Unlike Forest — who my sister’s family got from a breeder and can trace back his lineage through AKC, etc. — I don’t know River’s past. All I know is that she was found wandering the streets with a shattered femur and was between 9 and 11 months old. Luckily, she ended up being fostered by Forest’s trainer, who called me and said, “Come meet your future dog.”
I did, and it was love at first sight.
While River recovered, I knew I needed to find a place that would let me have a big dog like her. And again, with luck, I found a little guest house on a 5-acre property. It was the perfect place to have a dog, and the moment River was recovered enough that I could adopt her, I did.
Then, almost a week after I moved into my new place and brought River home, I got a text from my niece. She asked if I would be interested in taking Forest too, since she was concerned about his quality of life. When I lived in with my family, I had become Forest’s primary caretaker, since everyone else had work and school, etc. Without me, Forest was kind of neglected, everyone too busy to play or walk him.
Without hesitation, I agreed. And that’s how I ended up adopting two German Shepherd puppies in one week.
Now, at this point, you’ve probably been yelling at the screen about the insanity of what I did. One German Shepherd puppy is a handful, but two? When I didn’t even care for dogs several months ago? I know, I know. I feel you. It’s insane. I had no idea what I was getting into, even in just introducing the two. (Turns out, River didn’t like other animals in her territory.) Also, walking two dogs at once is a sure-fire way to die when you trip over their leashes. They’re also both teenagers now, which has been a “the Lord is testing me” time for the past couple months.
Hypocritical as it is, I’m the first to say that this breed is not for the faint of heart. They need a lot of training and a lot of exercise — I mean, this dog was bred to herd sheep all day so 30-minute walks really aren’t going to cut it. Unless you want to watch your house and yard destroyed by a bored dog, you have to put in the time or you will be in over your head fast.
And even though I did it, I would not recommend that anyone adopt two German Shepherds at once unless they have experience with the breed. Not unless you are absolutely committed to putting in the work these guys need; I mean, sign on the “dotted line in blood” committed. All dogs deserve that, of course, but I feel for these super-smart, active breeds — they really need it.
However, despite all my warnings and the mistakes I made, I can’t say I regret it. If I had known what joy Forest and River would bring me, I would have become a dog owner much sooner. I love them so much, and can’t imagine life without them.
And that’s the story about how I adopted two German Shepherd puppies in one week.