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The season of change

Welcome back to the bark side of life here in Ottertail, where a pallet of colors is painted on each deciduous trees that adorn our property.

I must confess. I am color blind to red/green colors, but I see other colors quite vividly. It's not that I don't see any color at all; it is that I see (different) colors that most people don't see.

Let me illustrate. Once upon a time, I rented a duplex that had a white picket fence and a quite bright tan exterior... except that the color of the exterior was pink. My friends who helped move me didn't let that little fact pass them by. Needless to say, I was given a raucous razzing by those who claimed they saw all colors in the rainbow...correctly.

So when I see fall colors, I see vivid oranges and purples, and yellows and reds. It is a spectacular spectrum from which I draw delight and awe. I'm not cheated out of enjoying the colorful transformation that this time of year exposes.

This time of year also signifies change, and this week I want to share a tale about one of our German Shepherds here at Rosswood that we placed with another family.

When you breed dogs, cats, horses, or any animal for that matter, you become attached to them like they were your own children. Many breeders refer to their dogs as their kids. Hans Solo was an only child. His mother had to be artificially inseminated to get her pregnant. She was a hard girl to breed. When you have a litter of one, they become quite special in your heart. Hans was special from the beginning.

He grew from a furry ball to a graceful ball of fire that could leap into the back of a truck with little or no effort. A friend of ours comes over a few times during the early days of a puppy's life and socializes them. Mary would hold the puppies in her lap and give then unconditional love. Sometimes she would do this for what seemed like hours. She did this for all our litters. Hans was no exception. He came to love her and bonded with the diminutive woman; always being careful not to knock her down as he got older and bigger.

One day, she was invited to come over for a BBQ and to visit the doggies. She hadn't seen Hans for quite a while so she wasn't expecting this rather large shepherd to come charging up the hill at her.

Hans is a coated shepherd (long haired) that prances when he runs and his feathered hair on his legs and chest flow back and forth as he approaches you. Mary had just sat down in a patio chair when the indefatigable dog bore down upon her with adoration in his eyes and love in his heart. She froze. He kept coming. She held her glass in her right hand and held it away from her body as he approached her at full speed.

When he finally reached Mary, he jumped up to give her a kiss, knocking her chair (with her in it) backwards. She fell over slowly (almost as if the event was being filmed in slow motion) and then the fall abruptly stopped in mid air. Hans had both his front paws on each of the arms of the chair. She was held captive until he gave her face a good licking. She convulsed in laughter as he did his obligatory greeting and then let her up without any harm to her at all.

The amazing thing about that encounter was that Mary did not spill a drop of her drink. Hans had made his entrance and then he pranced off to investigate some other part of the property. He was a high energy dog that loved life and it showed on his face when ever he would launch his 95 pound body into action.

No, Hans isn't dead. He is with a family that will love him and care for him the same way we have. We bred him once and have two of his puppies with us now. Princess Cora and Tenacious Toby are great reminders of the fantastic temperament that their father possesses.

We breed "short haired" shepherds because that is what the American Kennel Association defines as the conformation of the breed. We are going to get another male for breeding and we shall miss Hans dearly. Remember, it is the season of change and some changes are more profound than others.

Until next week...