German discipline

German discipline

Giovanni Guareschi, in describing Don Camillo’s dog ‘thunder’ pointed out that pedigree lent a certain dignity and entitled him to be treated with respect. This is so true of the three magnificent German Shepherds that I have had the privilege to know. Even though some are believed to be belligerent in disposition, these domestic strains are good natured, highly intelligent and easily trainable.

‘Toby’ of the red hills, was presented to us as a ‘guide’ by his master. He was to be the only one to herd half a dozen humans on an all terrain trek. Toby was naturally restrained with the visitors. He was approachable, standing his ground, showing confidence and willingness to meet overtures, without making them. He stood poised and eager to lead.

With a surprised lot behind him he set off with an effortless trot covering maximum amount of ground with the minimum number of steps. Thick, hard pads gave him strong, gripping power and he bounded ahead. Every now and then he would wait for the group to catch up, letting the last one to pass before running ahead. When some slipped on the wet slopes and had to rest awhile, he waited patiently. Upon returning to the base camp he greeted his master joyfully, handed over the amazed members and disappeared into the house without looking back. It wasn’t necessary to tip this guide!

The second fellow is ‘Soori’ of my neighbourhood, who is taken for walks by the domestic help of the house. One day, we stood watching him go by. His gait outreaching, smooth and elastic, was interrupted by the lady who stopped to chat up an acquaintance. Soori gave her a gentleman’s minute and then began tugging at his leash. Seeing that he was eager to return home, just two houses away, she let go of him. Realising that he was free he started running only to come to a grinding halt in a moment. This amazing fellow picked up his trailing leash in his mouth and then dashed off inside.

The third beauty ‘Kaiser’ belongs to my neighbour Chitra. He is stamped with a look of quality and nobility; difficult to define but unmistakably present. Even as a pup he has a direct, fearless and amiable expression. I also noticed a certain aloofness that did not lend itself to immediate and indiscriminate friendships. His debut saw him playing around an audience of gawking adults.

As he bit into a plastic bottle Chitra took it away. She then brought out his very own basket of toys and offered a chewable object. He looked at it with intent eyes, cocked his head, picked it up, ambled to the basket and dropped it back! After having chosen something else he retired to the garden. We women were speechless. Did we witness a puppy put things back in its place? Hours of housekeeping would be saved if we could only look up to this noble creature’s sense of orderliness.

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