On Color, Character and Choice...
It surprises people when I tell them how many different colors German Shepherds can be and still be a German Shepherd. Most people think all German shepherds look like Rin Tin Tin. A basic tan with a saddle shaped black patch down the back. Nothing could be farther from the truth. In fact, in the 26 years I have owned, raised and trained GSD, I have yet to own one who looks like any canine movie star. I have owned Black and creams, Black and Tan, Solid Black, Black and Silver, Bi Black…and once I considered a white, a Black and Red, a Sable, a Silver and a Blue. But the stereotype? No. I was not against having a dog of that color. I just never found one with the right temperament.
This year, my Lizzy had some pretty special puppies. A colorful lot they were. When they were born, some were very dark, almost black and some had bright cheeks and legs that sent cream creeping into ebony. GSD are all born darker than they will be when they mature.
Lizzy, though, did not care about color. She was concerned about health, growth, strength, hunger, and temperament... Every puppy was groomed and fed to its fullest. She has become a wonderful mother with her thoughts embedded in one place. Who is this little tiny creature I am responsible for? She worried over the smaller pups, making sure she laid nearest to them at feeding. She talked at the talker pup so it knew exactly where she was. She even nuzzled the squirmy pup so it would feel like its movements were worthy. Color? Not a single concern for it.
Lizzy loved those pups completely. I’m sure she recognized them by their markings. I’m equally sure she appreciated that she could tell them apart. There were two that I was no sure I could differentiate…but Lizzy knew. It never occurred to her to like or not like a pup based on its looks.
Seems to me Lizzy is in that teaching people mode again. . .
It was a beautiful day and puppy play time was in full swing. I sat on the grass, knees up, as they commenced to making me a human jungle gym. I giggled as their little feet padded across my legs, up my torso and to my shoulders. They tumbled and fell and got up to climb again. They wrestled over leg space and untied my shoes over and over. They got under my arms and wiggled into the small of my back and then jumped out to grab the tail of a climber.
I loved every minute of it. All colors. All shapes and sizes. All those faces…those faces! It mattered not at all to me which was lighter or darker. I appreciated the differences in beauty, but love one more than another? Not on your life. They are all too stinking cute for that.
After they had jungled themselves into an oblivious sleep, legs hanging over mine and muzzles in my armpits, I gave myself the luxury of just drinking them in. While basking in their beauty, I chuckled, thinking about buyer’s requests. “I want a very light dog.” “I want the traditional GSD look.” “I really want a bi-black!” I stroked fast growing, beefy bodies and said to my sleeping color wheel… “Guys, don’t they know its not about color, its about temperament?”
The color of a GSD does not matter in the long run. The breed is majestic and regal. Any color is going to look fabulous. Ah, but temperament. That is where it all stands or falls. Lizzy. Huge and playful but not aggressive and irritable. Kind. Friendly. Willing to learn. Faithful. Obedient. There is no flaw in who she is. Color? Who Cares? I did not get her for her color. I got her for her Character. It’s a character she is passing on to her young’ns.
Would that the world would be judged as Lizzy judges.
Lizzy could not care less about color. Smart girl.
I snoozed with the puppies in the cool grass for a bit before sitting up to look for their mother. She had trotted off when I drew the pups after me into the cool shaded grass. Never once looking back, she climbed up in my vine bed and settled in for a nap while the pups were with me. She raised her head and yawned when I called her name. Worried about the safety of her young ones? Not in the slightest. She knows that when her puppies are with me they are safe. Nothing about them could make me hate them or hurt them. No matter what color they are.
She stood and stretched that GSD stretch that can take a full 90 seconds. Then she jumped down from her makeshift vine mattress and trotted over to me. She nuzzled a pup or too and then looked me right in the eye. Sometimes I am sure my dogs are talking to me. She spoke confidence through those milky brown orbs. She knows. I will give them each the same care, training and chance, just as their mother does. She is sure they are happy with me. She had no worry. In fact, her stress level was non-existent. This is a good thing. GSD can break the bones in the forearm if they seriously believe there is a valid reason. A mother protecting her pups qualifies as a valid reason. Safety, though, made Lizzy chose to lick my hand instead.
We would do well to learn from Lizzy.
A bird had the audacity to land too closely to her pile of multicolored bundles of joy. She pounced, leaving me to continue to babysit.
***if you would like to see Lizzy and all the Black Magic German Shepherd Family, take a look at bmgsd.com ***