Journey was a junkyard puppy! Her father was a very large, intimidating German Shepherd Dog! Her mother was the unfortunate results of poor breeding and even worse training methods. At least she protected her litter fiercely and did her best to prevent anyone from taking them. Sadly, even the man she must have considered her owner!
It was a beautiful September morning in 1982 when I told my dad “today I am going to get a puppy”!
He barely giggled at what he must have thought was a joke. He should have known better. My entire childhood had been spent begging, pleading and wishing for my own dog. My determination led me to bring home strays; some might call it thievery, as most of the dogs were just loose on their owner’s property. I befriended my neighbors and became the primary walker for my first love “Prince”. A German Shepherd Dog who lived up to his name and taught me so much about the responsibility, commitment and dangers of pet ownership. We will save that story for another time! By the end of the school day I had made arrangements in the search for the perfect puppy.
The options back in the 80’s to buy a dog were pretty limited.
I found the ad in the local classified section of the paper. Ironically I knew nothing about animal shelters, rescues or even registered breeders and of course online classifieds hadn’t been invented yet! Not sure if any of them would have sold a dog to a 17yr old that didn’t have her parent’s consent. But the fella who allowed this horrible female to breed with an oversize male had no qualms in charging fifty bucks to get rid of them to the first person that came along. This little stinky bundle was mine and I was going to protect her with my life! Journey was the loveliest dog I have ever had the pleasure to own. She may not have been a classic looker but she surpassed my expectations in companionship. I recently consulted a young man in his first puppy purchase and expressed that the most genuine relationships don’t have to be technically correct. Which means sometimes you can achieve greatness against all odds. I know Journey and I achieved greatness!
It’s hard to believe that was over 30 years and many many dogs ago.
My professional career working with rescue, shelter and service dogs began in the 90’s. But it is often the earlier escapades that establish your direction. I was fortunate to know dogs like Journey and Prince who were both such perfect ambassadors for the German Shepherd breed. Neither was well bred but both were perfect! I hate to think what may have happened to their littermates. We don’t know precisely how nature vs nurture influence the end results, we do know they both affect the outcome of a puppy’s future. So a poorly bred dog like Journey who is given excellent socialization and training can reach her full potential. But unfortunately a dog coming from the same genetics combined with poor training, has substantially less chances of becoming a Prince. When you combine these devastating factors it increases the difficulty and responsibility for all these shelter dogs looking for their castle!
Since that September day in 1982, I have always purchased poor quality, terribly bred but beautiful animals. My devotion to improving the human animal bond through educational seminars, dog bite prevention demonstrations and teaching other animal activist has hopefully inspired others. There are so many wonderful people working in animal rescue that aren’t recognized or appreciated. Please realize that there is always more to be done and less to be criticized! Help, volunteer or donate to your local humane society or animal rescue group!