Sit

The training has started and Garms personality reveals itself more and more. As I suspected his confidence will be a challenge in some aspects of the training while very helpful when meeting people, other dogs or changing locations.

Garm_aktiv

The first few days Garm spent most of the time exploring home while I followed him trying to figure out which situations triggered behaviors that I later on can use in my training.

“Sit” and “come here” are the easy ones. Everytime I stop walking he automaticly sits down to assess the situation. All I had to do was to give the “sit” command a second before stopping and then give him a treat with a lot of praise. This way he could connect the command “sit” with an specific action without putting any pressure on him since he already had decided to sit down. If it worked it would make the actual training so much easier later on. After two days I decided to test the command in other situations to see whether he understood or I had to change tactics. I gave the command sit, and waited. You could almost see his head spinning trying to figure out the meaning of this and after a few seconds he sat down and looked at me like a big question mark. Success at first attempt! I continued to test him in different locations, at a variety of distances to see if it was just a lucky shot or if he really did comprehend the meaning of the word. He nailed it every time.

During training you shouldn’t give the dog a command if you know he most likely will ignore it. Then you only accentuate misbehavior and all is lost. Be sure you get the response you are looking for. Train in short periodes when the dog is truly motivated, and in a location where he is focused on you only.

 

Garm

Finally, after 30 hours of more or less continuous driving I managed to pick up Garm at Oeygarden(outside Bergen) and bring him home. I was afraid 13 hours stuck in a car, just separated from his siblings and mother, would be a challenge but after 10 minutes of crying he relaxed and fell asleep. We stopped to pee and get to know each other every 2 hours, the rest he slept like a baby.

Garm A few characteristics already stands out. He is confident and curious. It didn’t take him more than a couple of minutes to search through the house and settle in when we arrived for the first time. A minute later he was running around playing with one of the toys left from Otello.

This will make it easier when introduced to new environments and socializing, but also means I have to be smarter during training sessions to keep his attention and his attempts to challenge me for position.

Just one more week

Four weeks have passed since my friend Otello died. The appartement is still empty and pretty much nothing feels right. My life the last eight years has always been about what we could do together, and not having him around is very painful.

istapp

Today it’s snowing and it’s cold outside. The weather reminds me of one of Otello’s stranger behaviors. He loved the winter and snow. I think it was because of his thick and warm fur, and how he could run around without getting a heat stroke. Since he was three years old he had the strangest ability to know when the first icicles would appear, hanging from the roof of the old buildings across the street. Every autumn since then he would wake up the first day below zero degrees, anxious to get outside, waiting for me to open the door. Once outside he would run straight across the street and sit down outside one of the buildings, just staring up in the air waiting for me to hand him one of the icicles whitch he then ate like candycanes. He loved them,  and he never missed the first day.

It’s now just seven more days before picking up my new dog. I’m looking forward to find something positive to focus on again and a new friend to bring with me on my trips in the mountains.

And the decision is…

Finally the puppies have been divided amongst their new families and I can for the first time identify my new dog. It’s a good feeling and things now seem a bit more real.

Say hello to Garm(According to norse mythology Garm is the dog that guards the dead at Hel. He is to signal Ragnarok by barking loud three times, break loose from his chain and fight the warrior god Tyr. It is also believed that Garm and Fenris is the same creature.)

 

Garm

In about three weeks I’m going to Bergen to pick him up. By then the house needs to be prepared and his playground outside must be finished.

 

Big, brave and a bit silly

For eight years Otello and I stayed toghether every day, except three, and the house now feels empty and cold.

My mind constantly drift back in time remembering all the little quirks that made him so special while wondering what my next dog is going to be like. How much of his behavior was genetically provided, and how much was influenced by me.

German shepards are normally considered being big, brave dogs. Otello was a big dog… He loved everyone and everything around him and would defend me by all means necessary if needed, but the strangest things could scare him.

Otello snow

Three years ago I woke up in the middle of the night. Otello was running circles in the room, stressed and scared. I had no idea what had happened and looked around trying to see if mabye an animal had jumped through the bedroom window and inside, it wouldn’t be the first time. Nothing! By now Otello had noticed I was awake and jumped up in the bed giving it his best effort to hide his 40 kilo big body in my sternal notch. I jumped out of bed, prepared to meet everything from burgulars to badgers, searching everywhere and finding nothing. Just when I was giving up I noticed Otello was freaking out again. Still I couldn’t see anything, but there was a sound. A bearly noticeable, but very familiar sound caught my ear. One single mosquito had managed to get in and scare my big german shepard stupid.

It’s not like he was running around scared all the time, not at all. He was a very happy and content dog, but some situations needed a cautious approach. People never scared him, but if something was out of place in a familiar surrounding it would trigger his nerves a bit.

Is this a result of me being to controlling and over protecting? I hardly ever used a leash, he could always run around “unrestricted”. Even going shopping he would stay by my side with no leash, walking among all the other locals. To be able to do this we had to train constantly on all the little do’s and don’ts. Do not touch that, do not go there, stay close. Could this be the reason for his behavior in some situations. Had I taken away some of his abilities to react more secure and handle new situations on his own?

Will my next dog react the same way given the same training or was this a behavior due to genetic conditions?

A week has gone

It’s been little over a week since the death of my dear friend Otello, and life slowly starts to move forward again. I still get restless around the time we normally would take a walk, or go out to play, but now it feels more like a good memory than just being painful.

Being able to follow my new puppet Garm has made it much easier to find something positive to focuse on. Next week the decision on which puppet is going to be mine will be made. The choise stands between four amazing little fellows, so eigther way the result will be just perfect.

In loving memory of Otello, 08.06.2008 to 16.03.2016

This story of life starts with the death of my best friend through almost eight years, my german shepard Otello.

Two years ago he tore his ACL and went through surgery even though his odds were small for full recovery. The operation went well, but his joint had taken so much damage that it was propably only a question of time until the injury would start affecting him. In retrospect I’m not sure if I would do this operation again unless the dog is guarantied a full recovery. The next few months was hard on us both. Me, for having to watch my friend in pain day after day and Otello for having to live through it not knowing why he had to suffer. What did amaze me though was his constant positive spirit, never giving up. I think the best thing about the whole experience is how we bonded in a way I couldn’t think possible and should define the next two years together.

His injury never fully recovered. Even though he never complained, or gave a direct signal that he was in pain, it was obvious that something was wrong. Lately the trips was getting shorter every day and other injuries started to occure, probably because of the exstra load trying to take the weight of the injuried foot. Still he stayed positive and was happy just to be with me. I guess his always positive attitude and love for me is what made the decision to end his life so much harder and more difficult to deal with later on. On wednesday the 16. of march I realized this couldn’t go on anymore and a very difficult phone call was made to the veterinarian, late in the evening, asking if he could meet me at his office to end my best friends life. Twenty minutes later it was all over. The first 10 minutes I was relieved it was finally over and his pain was gone, then the black cloud of doubt crashed in hard and I started wondering if my decision was the right one. It’s not easy to make such a decision for someone who can’t defend themself, and when it’s done you can only hope it was the right one. There is NO do over! Thank you my friend, I will allways love you and remember you!

I made this blog to remember my friend Otello, but this story goes on with my new dog Garm(from norse mythology). He is also a german shepard and is barely three weeks old(born 29.02.2016). Because of his young age I haven’t been able to pick him up yet and have to wait for another four weeks to bring him home.

In this blog I will try to share the growth and life of Garm from birth to his death(may he live forever), and share my experiences with you. Hopefully you will also share some of yours with me.

To a new, better day!