If Leo was a man, he would be the kind who would draw chairs for women, or hold doors for them. Meet our gentleman giant of a German Shepherd, Leo. His hobbies are sleeping, following GG (my husband) around, chasing squirrels and rabbits (has never ever caught a single one), and rescuing baby bunnies and little birdies, who often think they are being eaten alive. Leo still hasn’t quite figured out why are they SO afraid of him.
Leo came to us when he was three months old.. Already weighing about 32 lbs, he was about the size of medium-sized grown up dog. He had fluffy hair,massive paws, intelligent almond-shaped hazel eyes and gigantic pointy ears framing his triangular face.
My older son NG, who was 5 at that time, wanted a puppy for his birthday. We decided to get him one. As it was going to be our very first dog after we got married, husband and I wanted one with good temperament as our kids were very young.I was keen on a Golden Retriever, but my husband saw Leo on a website and fell in love with him. GG had always wanted a German anyway. The breeder assured us that the pup belonged to a purebred blah blah lineage, his sire being the champion and winner of multiple AKC prizes. It didn’t interest us in the least. What interested us was his claims that his dame and sire had amazingly calm temperaments. That clinched the deal. Leo came home.
A friend dropped soon after we got Leo,when he heard we had got ourselves a German Shepherd. No sooner he spotted Leo, than he went down on all fours, placing his big hand right besides Leo’s furry one and declared, “This little guy has paws bigger than mine!”.
Of course, Leo did not have any idea of his size. He is about 6 inches longer and 4 inches taller than his most of the fellow GSDs. He came from a responsible breeder, and his parents were healthy, happy and of normal size. He was oldest of a litter of 8, but he was the last one to go, because somehow he had mutated to a size lot bigger than the regular AKC breed specifications and those who came before us didn’t want him. Well, their loss.
Initially, I was a bit nervous about having a dog of his size around my then 3 yr old toddler. Leo was only 3 months old, but a single wag of his bushy tail was enough to send my son flying some distance. He didn’t have large teeth yet, but his jaws had the power to crush tiny little wrists. Afterall, it was easy enough for him to chew up our wooden baseboard trim moulding by the stairs within first 2-3 weeks of his arrival. My toddling bunch of joy had no clue of course, whose favorite pastime soon was to shove his face right into the big puppy’s mouth. My first few anxious days were mostly spent on fiercely supervising the toddler – puppy interactions.
Also, I realised Leo was suffering from separation anxiety. He missed his Mom, his ex owners, their home, other dog and cat playmates. He would simply curl up in a corner, whine and sleep. Or drink water, by the gallons, and whine some more. Sometimes chew stuff that was around him, but he was still not showing much interest in his surroundings, or us. My 3 yr old son AG meanwhile would not leave the pup alone. This went on for a couple of weeks. Then Leo contracted conjunctivitis. He was in so much pain that it broke my heart. I would clean his eyes with medicated solutions, and let him sleep. But this also meant that this pup was stressed out, and it’s a dangerous place to be with a dog, even though a pup, especially a big one like Leo. Big dogs can make you forget how young they really are and vice versa.
By then we were crating him, and he was much safer now from my toddler’s prodding and pulling.However, once he was outside the crate, AG would inevitably find him and then try to ride him, pull his ears and even try to sleep on him. Leo endured. One afternoon, AG poked him. Brutally. Right in swollen, red, pain filled eye which was already half-shut. Before I could react, Leo jerked up. Seeing that big dog towering over my tiny little kid, my heart flew into my mouth, and blood drummed in my ears. All sorts of monstrous scenarios flashed in my mind in a split second, freezing me on the spot.
Then Leo emitted this long painful sound, a whine which was half complaint, half admonishment, like saying, “Ouch, that REALLY, REALLY hurt. Bad boy!”, and then he backed away, still whining. I unfroze, and flashed to where AG was still sitting hunched over. I swept him up in one clean go, firmly reprimanded him and proceeded to give him a time out (which unfortunately had little or no effect on him). Leo curled up again and hid his face in his paws.
My heart swelled with love, joy and something else that I could not name. I knew I had a winner, and possibly the kindest dog I had ever seen. I wasn’t wrong.
In the hindsight, that might not have been a fantastic incident, or even out of the ordinary – pets regularly do wonderful things for their owners everyday. But for me, as a young mother, it was a life changing moment, wherein, I accepted the large hearted dog as a part of our family, my third son.There hasn’t been a single day since that I have not thanked God for blessing us with this magnificent canine. If Leo was a man, he would be the kind who would read a story to his kid, let him ride on his back and then put him to bed. Much like the man I am married to. Oh, and did I mention that my husband GG and Leo are practically inseparable? Joined at the hips is what I say. They are two of a kind, and fill my world with pristine delight.
Keep checking this space to keep reading about his little and big adventures over the years.
Do you also have sweet little stories about your sweetipies? Please share.