When I was a teenager, my family had an enormous German Shepherd. Her
name was Heidi, she was approximately 125 pounds, all lean, strong as
a bull, and very protective of the family. She grew to be so big that
we couldn't get a harness big enough to fit her from the local pet
store. As my father was a director for the department of corrections,
we were able to ask the D.O.C. guard dog people who their supplier was
so we could special order a harness that would fit her. Heidi was
huge. Her father was a national tracking champion.
We had a couple of minor incidents with her, but we were patient and
taught her better. When she was still a pup, I was scratching her
behind her ears while she was eating her dinner. She turned and bit
at my arm (fortunately I drew back fast enough that she didn't bite
me). I swatted her pretty good for that and took her dinner away.
After that, I could take the bowl away from her and she'd just beg
nicely to get it back. Any of our family members could take the bowl
away from her (or take the food t of her mouth, for that matter) and
she'd not become aggressive with any of us.
When she was full grown, I came in late one night. She apparently
didn't realize it was me and came running at me at the speed of a
rocket. She reared on her hind legs and suddenly realized it was me.
She tried to stop, but 125 pounds of all lean dog coming at that speed
with her front paws five feet in the air wasn't going to be able to
stop in a few short feet.
Her nose hit me on the nose of my wire rim glasses. The cut across my
nose was in a perfect line parallel to the nose bridge of my frames
(she didn't bite me, the glasses cut into my nose). I had to go to
the hospital and have three stitches put in. When I got home, she
followed me everywhere trying to make up with me. I let her think she
was still in the 'dog house' with me for quite a while after that.
Hopefully, it would make her more careful in the future.
When she bounced off me, she turned and took off because she knew she
was in trouble. She thought she'd lose me under the kitchen table,
but she thought wrong. I was hopping mad at her. I caught her and
gently swatted her nose to let her know she had really fouled up.
Years later, my sister brought my two then tiny little nieces over to
my parents' house when I was visiting there. Melissa (my oldest
niece) had a strange idea about 'patting' dogs. It was more like
I saw Melissa 'pat' Heidi out of the corner of my eye and saw
Heidi coming up to her feet. I rushed towards the corner intending to
push Melissa out of the way and let Heidi bite me instead. But I knew
I wasn't going to be able to get there quick enough.
But the dog never growled, snapped, or even showed her teeth. She
just got up, walked away, and as she walked away she let out a gentle
'woof' of protest. She knew Melissa was family and it was not kosher
for her to harm Melissa in any way. In fact, the behavior she always
exhibited around those two nieces of mine was always one of
protectiveness. We subsequently gave Melissa 'patting' lessons.
Show the dog some patience and treat her with some love. A big dog
like that is going to be clumsy. But they are good protection.
When Heidi was still a pup, we were all asleep one night. She was in
the front room barking. My parents thought she was just exhibiting
normal behavior of a young pup and didn't even get out of bed to
The next day, our across the street neighbor reported that burglars
had come through the neighborhood the night before. The only houses
that weren't hit were ours, that neighbors, and the neighbors on
either side of our house. Heidi was on the job, that was clear. The
noise she made caused the burglars to bypass us altogether.
She had become a very loving animal when it came to our family. She
was by far one of the best pets we ever had in spite of her size and
Good luck with the dog.
[TELECOM Digest Editor's Note: Thanks for your good words. Very oddly
(at least to me) Buffy very seldom barks. Now it is quite rare that we
have any burglars or other malfeasants in this area, however, Buffy
was always letting me know when the the garbage collection truck came
through the alley every Monday and Thursday morning. But now today,
she only jumped around a little -- because I was sitting on my back
porch when they came through. But she has never barked even once at
the Meals on Wheels guy when he brings in my dinner, or at the
housekeeper nor my friends. She seems to understand that is okay, but
she sure was giving hell to the garbage collectors and the postman
each day. PAT]