Tag Archive | German Shepherds

Golden girl


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Tess Among the Flowers

Today our darling Tessie is 12, quite a geriatric for a German Shepherd. She came to live with us in July 2005, when she was 8 weeks old and I was recuperating from a life-changing (and potentially life-threatening) surgery. Her tiny teeth marks are still on the corner of my very expensive nightstand from where she entertained herself while I snoozed.


Official 12th birthday portrait – she’s always loved to be photographed.

She’s still an elder beauty, a natural blonde, but in her early years, she was dark and her future appearance was a mystery, as is always the case with shepherds.

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That face! That white-tipped tail (which she still has)!

Tess LOVES presents, so we started early this morning (early for her – she sleeps in most mornings and takes her morning pain medicine before she’s very mobile these days).


In action


Another squeaky toy!

In November, when Tess came screaming to us with bloat, formally called gastric dilatation volvulus – GDV – the emergency vet clinic wasn’t so sure she’d make it. We knew she would, and even though the vet was nervous, we opted for emergency surgery. Not only did she survive, she got to go home in record time. She was an invalid for a while, and she’s still terribly hobbled by neuropathy, her permanent condition.

A heartbreaker for us, but she’s still happy.

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Excuse the blur – they were a little too excited.

We know her days are numbered – I won’t embarrass her by mentioning some of the indignities of doggy old-age – but for now, she still loves her family and the grandkids and still has her glorious smile, so we persevere. Her neuropathy prevents her from taking the long walks she so loved, and her glorious tail hangs down these days, still with its white tip – not from unhappiness, but from numbness.

But in our minds, she’s still the cutest puppy ever and still has so much to say. Happy birthday, Tess!

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Precious in pink


Whole lotta shakin’ going on

Today’s 90-degree heat coupled with weeks of accompanying Dad to two stinky restoration projects made this evening the perfect time for the first doggy bath of the season. Both big girls had a whole lot of shakin’ going on before, during and after their dates with The Furminator and the water hose.

The first step of the process was repairing the doggy door so I could insert the panel to prevent: A. Zuzu from running inside to hide and B. Tess scaring Zuzu to death by grabbing her collar to “help” us bathe her. They’d so warped the frame by crashing into the hard panel the few times we’d shut them in that it took some tweaking with a hammer to get it working again.

Furminating requires all-hands-0n-dog, so we couldn’t get pictures, but the piles of white undercoat were impressive.

The  process was to Furminate Tess while Zuzu watched, bathe Tess while Zuzu hid, let Tess shake then rub her with a beach towel – she likes that – then trick Tess into going in the laundry room (while blocking the younger one who desperately tried to get inside) so we could repeat the process with Zu.

Tess was frisky and playful post-Furminating, though she was pretty sassy during the process.

Tess was frisky and playful post-Furminating, though she was pretty vocal and sassy during the process.

Zuzu, on the other hand, was shaking and nervous while awaiting her turn but angelic during the procedure, since big bad Tess was stuck inside.

Zuzu, on the other hand, was shaking and nervous while awaiting her turn but angelic during the procedure, since big bad Tess was trapped in the house.

Tess promptly crashed into the hard panel trying to get back out, then commenced to complaining greatly about the indignity of being stuck inside.

Tess is pretty good when it comes to bathing, though she can’t help but shake and drench us from time to time. And unlike her sister, she understands that she needs to shake, and shake a lot. after a bath before going in the house.

Tess is an old pro at baths. Doesn't love them but tolerates pretty well now that she's 9.

Tess is an old pro at baths. Doesn’t love them but tolerates them pretty well now that she’s 9.

Zuzu, shockingly, was an angel for the whole process – comparatively speaking. Knowing Tess wasn’t watching ready to pounce did the trick. What she doesn’t understand is the part about shaking the water off – until she gets in the kitchen that is.

The floors needed mopping anyway. The cabinets, not so much, but hey …

Zuzu even assumed the German Shepherd show stance during her bath. What a good girl!

Zuzu even assumed the German Shepherd show stance during her bath. What a good girl!

Both dogs love bodies of water – we can’t keep them out of even a large puddle – and Zuzu never shakes after soaking. She seems to like to drip-dry. Black hair in the heat, you know.

Anyway, now the dogs are clean and we stink. Mission accomplished, old folks intact.

That’s a bigger achievement than young folks can imagine.

And, look - Zuzu has a waistline. Months of portion control - plus maturing into her 3-year-old figure – have paid off. Her coat is so thick and she's so big most people assume she's a male. But she's just a big old rowdy girl.

And, look – Zuzu has a waistline. Months of portion control – plus maturing into her 3-year-old figure – have paid off. Her coat is so thick and she’s so big most people assume she’s a male. But she’s just a big old rowdy girl.

And they call it “puppy love”

Early this morning Zuzu and I were in the living room — she playing wildly with assorted toys, me lifting weights. Suddenly Tess came trotting into the room and cuddled up next to my big red Thera-ball, from which she normally keeps a wide berth. Since I was pressing an 18-pound bar, it was a particularly precarious spot for her, and I knew something must be wrong for her to squeeze in so close. But when I asked her, “What is it, girl?”, she didn’t offer to show me anything, so I kept on with what I was doing. After a few seconds, though, I realized Zuzu had stopped playing, so I raised up to look behind me.

I wish the camera had been close by, because it was one of the sweetest scenes I’d seen in a long time. Big little Zuzu, the giant 9-month-old, was comforting Tess — lying beside her looking into her face with her big puppy paw resting on Tess’s foot. They stayed in that position until I’d finished working out. I started to go for the camera but knew they’d follow me, so you’ll just have to picture it.

Tess and Zuzu are quite close.

When I finished, I went into the kitchen and told John how Zuzu had been consoling Tess, but I couldn’t imagine what it was about. He knew the answer — he’d had an extensive sneezing attack, and the only thing Tess fears more than John sneezing is thunderstorms. Actually, they rank about the same.

Poor Tessie is phobic. Most of her phobias wax and wane with time, but the sneezing thing has been lifelong, as well as storms and the vacuum. (Oddly, if I sneeze, she runs to me to see if I’m OK. If her dad sneezes, she usually high-tails it out the doggy door, even if she has to run from the living room past John in the kitchen to get out. So this morning was a deviation.) That’s a sidetrack. The point is that dogs love each other.

When Trudy had to be put down, Toby grieved deeply. For two weeks, she wouldn’t get up in the mornings, even for breakfast, and food was definitely a motivator for her. It’s been almost two years since Toby’s been gone, but a couple of days ago, I mentioned her a little too loudly within earshot of Tess, and Tess’s eyes got wide, her ears shot up and she briefly looked for her older sister. Broke my heart.

Though they look quite a bit alike, Tess and Zuzu have totally different personalities. Tess, the thin, blonde, picky eater, has always been a worrier, and as such, she acquired prematurely gray hair around her mouth when she was quite young. Now at 6, she has a gray goatee like her human dad. She’s skittish about other dogs but loves human company. She adores babies (especially before they’re very mobile) and loves our 5-year-old grandson, Jude, but doesn’t particularly want to be near him when he’s awake.

When he spends the night, though, she guards him all night long.

Tess is in position to guard her Jude all night. She really thinks that bed should be for her, though.

Zuzu, on the other hand, is a big gallumphing girl who loves everyone, man or baby or beast. Jude is her best friend — they have a fort together in the bamboo at the side of our house — and if the babies are within reach, she’ll lick them silly. We often think she’s Toby reincarnated or at least channeling her. She “talks” loudly, especially when we come in after being away; eats almost anything, including salad and cardboard; and can’t rest until she’s used her big paddle feet to empty the large water trough in the laundry room. (All of which Toby also did, bless her.) She’s still a puppy and could mature, but I don’t think she’ll ever outgrow her exuberance for life. I hope not.

Zuzu at 6-months with her boy, Jude.

The other day, when we were all worn out and hanging out after the World Cup heartbreak, 6-month-old Annabelle, who can sit up like a big girl now, had Zuzu’s tail and was flopping it up and down against the floor. Zuzu never even looked at her. She’s a good dog. They both are.