I say “not-big dogs” rather than “small dogs” because a golden retriever isn’t really a small dog. That’s what I had, growing up, a golden. She was the best dog. She wasn’t very well trained, because we were bad dog trainers, but she was sweet as honey with all of us kids and put up with rough-house play that would have caused any other dog to justifiably bite our hands off at the wrists. She wasn’t a dumb dog, she was just a dog, and after she died I always knew I would have another dog one day. Probably a golden, but maybe a German Shepherd, because there was always SOMEONE in our family that had one (especially my grandfather and great-uncle “Uncle Gene”) and I loved those dogs a whole heck of a lot, too.

But now we HAVE a GSD. A puppy, to be precise, with all the energy of a puppy and bloody smart, to boot. Really, she makes my last dog seem dumb as a rock. It is both awesome and maddening.

Also, at 7 months, she weighs probably what Rosie did as a full-grown dog; she’s nearly 60 pounds. She’s put on ten pounds since we brought her home and you can still see ribs. She’s big, and she is strong and she is fast. It’s actually a joy to watch her run and jump; it’s like watching a deer. And my experience as a golden retriever owner was about as adequate to prepare me for this as building model rockets in your backyard prepares you to head out for the ISS. Let me share some examples:

A few days after we brought her home, I volunteered to do the morning run with her (except it was going to be a walk, because unlike the DH I cannot keep up a 6 minute pace for more than, maybe, ten seconds). He’d been taking her out on some trails behind our neighborhood, and I thought maybe I’d take her out there. But then I thought, “oh, wait… early morning, still pretty dark, woman running alone on an unlit trail… mmm…” Our town isn’t a dangerous place, but unfortunately there are still some things that just aren’t smart for women in general to do. It wasn’t until two days later that I realized, “wait… I’d be a woman running alone, on an unlit trail, early in the morning… with a 50 pound German Shepherd. The chances of anybody messing with me with her along are pretty small.”

The second thing that really rubbed in “shepherds and retrievers are NOT THE SAME” was one afternoon when I was running with her in circles around our house, just to give her a chance to at least try to stretch her legs a bit. We were going as all-out as I could go (probably about a 2 minute quarter, for those keeping score). We came around the back corner of the house to see two people walking their dog down the road past our front yard…. I thought “Oh shit.” (She’s reactive to other dogs.) She sped up. Let me repeat that – we were going as fast as i could, and she sped up. I thought faster than I ever have in my life, yelled “Oh fuck!”, aimed my shoulder at the ground, and let her pull me off my feet. I hit the dirt and got dragged for about six feet but did manage to come to a halt while she was still away from the road. The dog-walkers were looking at me with concern and asking “Are you all right??” “I’m fine,” I said, “I just knew that was the only chance I had of stopping her.”

We’re adjusting. We’re learning how to deal with her and help her to listen, and she’s doing better with her training as we learn more and more techniques. We’ll get there.

Now if only she’d stop chasing the cat. >_<