I always thought I’d be a golden retriever person. And I still am. Indeed, I am still very much into the gun dog breeds. I will always have one around.
But I’ve added to my canine tastes an entirely different sort of dog. Well, they aren’t entirely different. I really like the working shepherd dogs from the European continent. They are into retrieving, too, but their natural tendency is to retrieve with a very hard mouth. Half-wild sheep or cattle living on the North European Plain need hard tending.
Anka is a working German shepherd, whose ancestry I’ll never know, but I know she is from working lines. Her dark sable color predominates in those strains, and she is only 64 pounds.
She has decided that I am her main human and with me is as demonstrative and fawning as a golden retriever. With strangers, she is merely aloof. Aggression towards people really isn’t her thing. She loves children and will even adjust her wild playing to meet their needs.
I suppose now I will always have a dog of this type too. The two types of dog are an interesting juxtaposition to each other. Both are about seeking the approval of mankind. Both are about marveling at our species. As flawed as we are, there is something oddly comforting to look into the brown eyes of a dog like these two types.
A German shepherd is a wolfy enough animal for me to think of them as something truly primitive. But their primeval appearance is illusory. They were made wolves out of herding stock, and though they may have a bit of Central European wolf blood coursing their veins, they are working herding breed.
I suppose that as I gain more experience meeting dogs, I will have new ideas about them, and I have the right to change my mind as new facts and faces come to the fore.
I never thought I’d feel this way about a dog of this type, but I really do like her. I love her soft sensitivity, which she avails only to a select few, but it is so different from what I’ve seen in other “macho” breeds. The boxer and working bulldog types I’ve been around are not like this at all. They are many things, but sensitive souls they are not.
I feel so embarrassed that I was wrong about this breed. Dogs barking like maniacs in backyards or the ones that you pass at the park that growl at you as their owners hold their leads tightly are not truly representative of the breed.
In fact, those same dogs in the right hands might be the most stable working dogs. and with their owners, they might be biggest babies that cower before the Yorkshire terrier or cat that lives in the house.
Anka has this odd sense of humor. It is developed and refined. She greets me with a lick on the face, and then when I’m not looking at her, she will pop her jaws just an inch from my face. I will flinch, and she will look back at me with this goofy grin. Her eyes are so soft and gentle, yet you cannot readily see them through her black mask.
And the way those eyes look at me, I know that I am hers and she is mine, and all will go right with the universe so long as we can be together.