In the spirit of the season, I thought I would share with others a little story about Dietrich (my much loved and first GSD). I wrote it from my point-of view, and then that of Dietrich. I call this tale...

The Green Monster

Joann speaks: It was mid-December and I was taking my young GSD, Dietrich, to the vet for routine checkup. When I got there, the waiting room was already filled with patients: dogs of all breeds and sizes, cats in carriers, and even a parrot in a cage. I took the last seat on a couch next to a 6-foot, decorated Christmas tree. As I sat down, I smiled to acknowledge my immediate neighbor-a lady with a Yorkshire terrier on her lap. All eyes were on Dietrich, however. At 110 pounds he was an imposing figure and was clearly the largest animal present. Recognizing that he was already the center of attention, I decided to demonstrate how well-behaved and obedient a large dog could be with proper training. I cleared my throat and issued a firm, "Sit," whereupon Dietrich sprang to attention. Without further hesitation, he jumped up on the couch, maneuvered around, wedged himself very carefully between me and the (by now) astounded Yorkie lady, executed a perfect sit, and heaved a big sigh. Everyone in the room gasped at this glaring breach in canine etiquette. In addition, the Yorkie lady was clearly terrorized by the threat of such a large creature breathing down her neck, so I hastened to remedy the situation. Uttering my sternest "Off," I rose to my feet. Unfortunately in doing so, my hair became entangled in the adjacent Christmas tree. Caught in a half-standing, half-crouching posture, I reached up and attempted to disengage myself. My vigilant Dietrich saw my plight and instantly interpreted the tree as being an assailant. He leapt to my defense and pounced on the aggressor with such force that it started to topple, shedding ornaments like leaves in a windstorm. I lunged in an effort to steady it. Too late! It fell towards a tall table lamp, knocking it over. I tried to grab the lamp. Too late again! The lamp toppled toward the window where it came to rest, bringing down the curtain rod and drapes in its descent.

The room rebounded with a series of exclamations from spectators, but I was only vaguely aware of their reactions. Instead, I slumped back down on the couch, with my head buried in my hands, trying to stifle peals of hysterical laughter. The effort was so demanding that my sides ached, and tears streamed down my cheeks. By now, other dogs in the room had seized upon the moment, barking furiously, snarling leashes while attempting to capture ornaments, or leaping about in excitement. Even the parrot was vocalizing (to my ear, it sounded suspiciously like obscenities). And a couple of the cats set up a pitiful wailing. Dietrich, however, remained steadfastly by my side. Obviously delighted by the turn of events, he wagged his tail furiously, and his eyes gleamed with pride as he licked my face.

Follow-up:

(1) I offered to restore the waiting room to order however, this offer was declined;

(2) word must have gone out immediately on the local grapevine as I have never seen another floor-standing Christmas tree in any veterinarian's office since that time;

(3) destiny intervened on our behalf; Dietrich and I were spared from crossing that particular threshold again. Several months after this incident, my current veterinarian opened his practice within 1 mile from my house.

Dietrich speaks: Well, this is how it went. Mom loaded me in the box on wheels and off we went to the vet place. When we arrived there was a room full of other humans just sitting around. My mom goes to sit on the couch thing next to a woman with a rat on her lap. My mom says, "Sit," so I sit. Then she get all flustered 'cos I'm sitting beside her on the couch. Where does she think I will sit? On the dirty floor? Nosiree, not Dietrich!

Well, when I sit down on the couch thing, this woman with the rat lets out a yelp. Has she never seen a German Shepherd before? What craziness is this? My mom is now upset and tells me "Off!" She goes to stand up and when she does this green tree thing grabs her. Well, what do you think I do? I have to stop this immediately. My dad told me it is my duty to protect mom. I don't forget this! I am a smart boy. I evaluate the situation and it does not look good to me. That tree thing is dangerous, and it has attacked my mom. So I jump at the tree thing and, believe me, it did not put up much of a fight. The thing goes bam just like that, and it falls kerplunk, and it hits the light thing, and the light thing starts to sway, and then it falls over...splat! This is very gut! Now when it falls, the light thing hits the metal thing that holds pieces of cloth in the window, and then all of that falls down behind the couch...more gut! Now all is well. I kill them all...ja!

My mom is standing very still now and her face is turning red and she is breathing funny. Then she starts to shake and covers her face with her hands and sits back down on the couch. I see now that there's wet on her face. She is so happy, she cries! I lick her real good many times. "No problem, mom," I tell her. "I save you! Now we go home!"

© 1994 Joann Furse

Joann and her GSDs: long-haired and beautiful, Xenna (3 years) Freudig, black, handsome, inquisitive, and full of life (1 year)

Joann Furse California Sea Grant College System, SIO La Jolla, CA 92093-0232 phone: (619) 534-4444 fax: (619) 453-2948 www-csgc.ucsd.edu


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