Friday, November 19, 2010

Good Dog, Carl: German Rottweilers are On My Mind

Hulda, female from Guardian Rottweilers
Okay, so I'm not rushing out to buy a puppy today, or tomorrow, or even next month.  No crazy puppy-for-Christmas schemes are hatching in my mind.  But my husband and I have been discussing adding a dog to our household off and on for the last few months, and we're leaning heavily towards a Rottweiler.

Me &Byron in 1998 (nope, that's not my natural haircolor, either!)
It has been a long time since we have had a dog in our household.  Our last dog was a Golden Retriever named Byron Fussy that I had impulsively purchased at a puppy store while still in college, and he exhibited all of the health issues that are so common with irresponsibly bred "puppy mill" dogs: severe hip displasia and arthritis that rendered him lame after even a brief, leisurely walk around the neighborhood, extreme thunderstorm anxiety that had him racing around the house in a panic every time it stormed, trying to jump through windows to escape (even after we'd given him the doggy Valium prescribed by the vet), skin problems, digestive problems requiring special dogfood.  He even lacked some of the major breed characteristics that Golden Retrievers are supposed to have: he refused to go in the water, and didn't want to retrieve anything.  If we threw a ball or a frisbee, he'd turn his head to follow the path of the object and then look back at us as if to say, "I'm not your errand boy; get your own ball if you want it!"  Despite his issues and shortcomings, however, we loved Byron Fussy and cared for him faithfully for over twelve years.  It was difficult to lose him, and with two small children in diapers at the time, we didn't rush out to buy another dog.  We've been a dogless household for the last seven years.

So, why now, and why a Rottweiler? 

1. Well, for one thing, Bernie travels a lot for business.  The boys are in second grade and fourth grade, so they are not as hands-on, high-maintenance as they were when they were in diapers, and they are in school all day long.  Although I do work full time, I work from home -- and it's quiet here when Bernie's out of town.  It would be nice to have the company of a dog during the day. 

2. Secondly, when Bernie's not traveling, he also works from home.  The dog would very infrequently be left alone, since one or the other of us is almost always at the house.  I used to hate having to leave Byron Fussy alone day after day when we left for work, but we have a lot more to offer a dog now than we did back then in terms of the time and attention we could invest in the dog.

3. There have been a lot of break-ins in the area over the past year.  A few weeks ago, a car with a couple of men in it were scoping out our house while I was here alone, parked outside in the cul-de-sac, discussing and pointing, then drove away only to return 20 minutes later and park and again apparently discussing how to break in.  I stepped out onto the front steps so they could see me, my heart pounding, and took their picture with my iPhone, then jumped back in the house, locked the door, set the alarm, and called 911.  The car sped away after I took the picture, and the police came but did not apprehend them.  Later, when I told Bernie about the incident, he remembered seeing the exact same car parked in our cul-de-sac earlier that morning while he was packing suitcases into his car in our driveway before he left on his business trip.  Great, isn't it?!  Just last weekend, a home on the other side of our neighborhood was robbed in broad daylight on Saturday afternoon by men in a different car who had apparently been watching the home, because they pulled up and broke in through the back door almost immediately after the family left to run some errands.  I would feel a lot safer in my home knowing that any would-be-burglers scoping out a target would be intimidated by the Rottweiler and move on to some other house instead.

4. "Aren't those dogs dangerous," you may ask?  Well, they are large, strong, powerful, and naturally protective of their home and family, but if they are properly trained, well socialized, and supervised, it turns out that they can be wonderful family pets.  Responsible breeders like the former female police officer and mother who owns Guardian Rottweilers in Indiana (the source of all the Rottweilers featured in this post) intentionally produce Rotties who are family-friendly and good with small children.  However, if bad guys smashed in windows or doors at the back of my house, a Rottwieler would not greet them with love and affection the way my Golden Retriever probably would have -- and I think most burglars would move on as soon as they realized there was a Rottweiler on guard. 

Sango from Guardian Rottweilers
5. We need to be getting more exercise.  Because exercise is something that's just for me, I tend to put it at the bottom of the list after things like laundry, food shopping, helping the kids with homework, working on clients' projects, etc.  I used to enjoy going on long walks with Bernie before he started traveling so much, and I don't enjoy walking or jogging alone.  Knowing that the dog was counting on me for exercise, and knowing that a Rottweiler needs to get that exercise every day to be well-behaved and obedient, would help me move those daily walks up to the top of my list.  Then I'd start to see all the benefits I'm missing from exercise myself, like more energy, a more positive outlook, not feeling like an old lady when I get all tuckered out from climbing the stairs, etc.

Carl the Rottweiler looks after the baby in Good Dog, Carl by Alexandra Day
6. Remember the wordless picture book by Alexandra Day, Good Dog, Carl?  Obviously I'm not going to leave any dog alone with a baby, let alone a Rottweiler, but still.  I read this book easily a thousand times to my sons when they were little, and I'm sure it contributes to the warm fuzzy feeling I have toward the breed.

7. Rottweilers are beautiful!  Look at these gorgeous puppies that are currently available from Guardian Rottweilers:

Apollo, male
Audrey, female
This is by no means a definite.  I still want to do a lot more research about the breed, and find a breeder and local trainer that I'm comfortable with.  If we bring a dog into our family again, it's really important to me that the dog is extremely well-trained and well-behaved, no matter what breed it is.  No knocking down visitors to lick their faces, no begging at the dinner table, no jumping up on furniture and beds and refusing to make room for humans.  There will need to be puppy obedience classes and probably one-on-one sessions with a trainer, preferably one who has lots of experience with the breed. 

Initially we were thinking of getting two dogs from the same litter, but I'm having second thoughts about that as I consider the possibility of walking two dogs by myself, each weighing a hundred pounds.  It's probably a better idea to start out with one and see how that goes before adding a second dog, since you don't really know in the beginning what the individual dog's personality will turn out to be.  Some dogs are more challenging than others.  I would also need to get a fence installed around our back yard first, and I think that the best timing for bringing home a puppy would be the start of summer vacation when our schedules slow down.

Still, it's fun to think about!


cari said...

Awesome. I wish everyone would put this much thought and care into the decision to bring a dog into the family. And the guys? In the car? SO scary! Um...can Bernie please pack his bags into the car inside the garage from now on? With the door closed? Because now I'm worrying about you.

Rebecca Grace said...

Well, in order to pack his bags into the car inside the garage, Bernie would have to make room for his car in the garage. He has a classic car under wraps in there that he plans to install floors in someday (right now it's a Flintstones Mobile), table saws, jig saws, band saws... I'm lucky there's room for MY car in the garage, and even I have to park in the driveway when he has a project underway.

Anonymous said...

we had a Rottweiler/lab mix and she was the best. However, I thought it would be good for her to not be alone so I also took her sister too. Big mistake. One dog is much easier to train and handle than two. They would look at me and laugh and then run!

I had a dog trainer come to the house and we had training for an hour. It was well worth it, although I then realized I needed a trainer for my husband!, who worked outside instead of learning the commands with me for the girls!

One dog is sufficient especially at that size.
Tammi xo

Rebecca Grace said...

Tammi, I'm leaning that way, too.

Gorgeous Things said...

Rotties are wonderful. Our dog Hoover's two best dog friends are Tessa and Lexie, two rotties from Quintessential Rottweilers (NAYY, they are our neighbors). We take them when their owners are on vacation, and they take Hoovie for us. They are big creampuffs, with bigger barks. Tessa is pregnant, I think, in case you want a dog some time next summer ;)

Joann Mannix said...

Okay, I have so much to say here:

First of all, you need a dog ASAP!!!! I live on 12 acres, my home is tucked away behind a thicket of woods. No one can see my house from the road. And my backyard is a lake. I don't live in a neighborhood. I do have neighbors, but they're far enough away that if anything were to happen here, they would have no idea. I am alone by myself all day long. I keep my doors locked, but nothing gives me more security than my 3 very large barky dogs. And every policeman will tell you, nothing deters a bad guy more than a big bark. They just don't want to mess with a dog. Granted, they are labradoodles and they're 80 pounds each of mushy love, but you can't tell that from their bark.

My parents bred labs growing up and we knew a lot of dog breeders because of that. My parents best friends raised rottis and when trained right, they are the BEST dogs. Loyal and sweet and fiercely protective of their owners. I love those dogs. The only downside I know about them is if you do get one, make sure you are never late on their Parvo vaccinations. Rottis are very susceptible to parvo and it's a very lethal fast-acting illness.

And my only other piece of advice is, do NOT get two dogs at once. We bred our labradoodle and kept 2 of her puppies. They're just now a year old and even though I love them with my whole heart, the last year has been hell. When there are two of them, they don't listen to you, they listen to each other. They're finally growing out of that, but it's been tough. I'd wait until your pup turns a year and then get another one. Potty training's awful with two.

Rachel said...

stumbled on your post after a good dog carl image search.
My nearly 4-year old rottweiler is one of the best things that has ever happened to me. owning a rottweiler is INCREDIBLY rewarding as they give back everything you put in. they are extremely loyal, loving, and have a great clown-like disposition and will amuse you with their hijinks. additionally they are rarely dog-aggressive and are that excellent combo of pro-athlete and couch potato.
All i will caution any potential rottie owner is to never forget the negative public perception around these dogs. if a rottweiler does something remotely questionable, people will sue you in a heartbeat (it's happened to me). rotties do not 'get away with things' in the public eye like a golden or spaniel can. you must be prepared to deal with antagonistic, litigious people and as such be VERY careful with your beloved dog. that said, those creeps in the cul-de-sac wouldn't make a move on your property with a rottweiler on guard; they are FEARLESS protectors.
good luck :)

Rebecca Grace said...

Rachel, thanks for stopping by! I really appreciate your perspective and experience as a Rottweiler owner. Thanks for sharing!

Luther the Wolf Dog said...

Hi Rebecca, your post (which I also found doing a Good Dog Carl image search) hit home in so many ways. My childhood dog was a golden retriever, who passed on at 16 years old, about 8 years ago. I'd wanted a dog again, for many years, but felt that with my (previous) small apartment and 50 hr/week day job, I would not be able to offer the proper conditions--since we are learning more than ever how lonely dogs get when they're left alone.

Today, I now work from home, and I live with my fiance, who is gone most of the day at work. So, now simultaneously, 1) I was looking for some company during the day and 2) Being at home, I can now offer a better life for a dog, keeping it company during the day.

So, 7 months ago I adopted a Rottie mix (he's mostly Rottie, but is also Mastiff and German Shepherd) named Luther, and its been amazing. I realize now how much I've missed my childhood dog, and that I waited too long in getting a new canine companion. Luther is also my therapy/service dog helping me to recover from a lower back injury, and to be as functional as possible day-to-day. He has helped me so much already!

So, in the end, I wanted to tell you that I enjoyed reading your article and I wish you the best in your endeavors. If interested, please come and check out the new blogspot page I put together for Luther (and consider "following' it), whom my fiance and I love so dearly.

You certainly know your personal situation better than I do, but based on my experience with Luther, I would recommend getting a Rottie sooner than later. I wish I had gotten a second doggie earlier than I did.

Best Wishes!

Rebecca Grace said...

Luther the Wolf Dog's story is the kind of heartwarming, feel-good rescue story we all love to read: Thanks so much for sharing that!

Luther the Wolf Dog said...

Thanks for the nice words, Rebecca, and I'm glad you enjoyed the article.

Please stay tuned for the upcoming videos from our hikes.

Alice Velasquez said...

I am the owner of Guardian Rottweiler, and it would be my pleasure to help in any way I can- either point you in the direction of a good rescue or answer any puppy questions. I also extend a warm invitation for anyone to please feel free to look around my website for tons of breed specific information including training tips, socialization, health concerns, breed history, and loads of other dog and rottie info. I too am thrilled that you have put so much though into and not just jumped in head first. The rottweiler is not for everyone and I have a few pages on my website dedicated specifically to that as well. But I do firmly and whole-heartedly believe that a well bred, well trained rottweiler is the absolute best dog, companion and lifelong friend anyone could ever ask for. They are loyal, unconditionally loving, affectionate, attentive, crazy smart, eager to please and high in courage. Guardian Rottweiler- Courageous Guardians. Loyal Companions. <3

Rebecca Grace said...

By the way, I did end up purchasing our puppies from Alice of Guardian Rottweiler, and I highly recommend her and her dogs. Not only are our dogs beautiful, but they are super smart, easy to train because they want so much to please, and they have rock solid temperaments. Alice is also great about helping with any questions or issues that came up after we brought the puppies home.