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Please love your dog. March 10, 2014

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This morning, a friend e-mailed our friend Ben a poster for a dog that had gone missing in our area over the weekend. The dog, a young male named Flynn, was a breed I’d never heard of, a Maremma sheepdog, fluffy and white with caramel-colored ears. He apparently got loose in his training collar. His owners had him microchipped (so vets can identify him) and have contacted all the appropriate authorities, and he’s only been gone two full days, so hopefully he’s already been reunited with them.

Our friend Ben and Silence Dogood are dog lovers, so of course we’ll keep our eyes peeled for Flynn in case he’s wandering lost, thirsty, hungry, and sad. But I was appalled by the language used on the poster asking for his return. Flynn’s owners made the poor youngster sound like a monster: If you see him, do not approach him, chase him, make eye contact, try to grab him, or otherwise interact with him in any way. Just call our number (they did not reveal their names) and tell us where you saw him.

This makes poor Flynn, who is probably still an adolescent pup since he was in a training collar, sound like an attack dog. But their training program has a different goal: to alienate the poor dog from human companionship so that he identifies with and guards his flock of sheep. I have seen this with Great Pyrenees, the giant white dogs who also herd sheep, barking and snarling nonstop as they guard their flocks, completely unacclimated to humans, even those who’re just walking up the road, in Virginia. The dogs live outside with the flock and never experience the richness of human companionship. To me, this is the greatest disservice to an intelligent dog that there could be.

We own a sheepdog, a German shepherd. We don’t have sheep, but we appreciate our shepherd Shiloh’s keenly honed herding instincts as she tries to collect us, our cats, and her numerous toys all in the same room. She may not always succeed, but her herding instinct is very evident, and she’s never happier than when she can keep an eye on us (her flock) while reclining in our midst. In Scotland, the prized Border collies, perhaps the ultimate herding dogs, are allowed back in the house at the end of their workday, allowed to take their place among their human families. Like them, they deserve some R&R for a day’s work well done.

To isolate a dog from human contact so that it may serve a “purpose” seems to me to be a sin. The purpose of the dog-human bond is to work together, to rest together, to play together. Not to banish the dog to the outer reaches, away from human contact, even eye contact with strangers. Maybe Flynn realized that when he ran away.

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Threatening the dog. October 21, 2013

Posted by ourfriendben in homesteading, pets, wit and wisdom.
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Our friend Ben and Silence Dogood have a big, bad, black German shepherd named Pioneer Hawk’s Haven Shiloh von Shiloh Special. (I wanted another golden retriever, but Silence found Shiloh online and informed me that she was going to be our next dog and her name was going to be Shiloh. Well, alrighty then. And when we found out that her grandfather’s name was actually Lucas von Shiloh Special, we just couldn’t resist adding it onto her name.)

But to get back to our by now very big, very bad dog. When she does something bad—deafening us with her barking, chasing the cats or putting them through the “catwash” (her tongue is as big as the rest of her), pulling on her leash, or just generally being annoying—we threaten her. Not, mind you, with physical harm. Being wordsmiths, we threaten her with a fast flight to Asia.

Silence once read a story about Koreans’ fondness for dog meat. The proprietor of Mr. Moon’s Dog Stew Emporium, which apparently was doing a booming business when the reporter visited, served up a delicious bowl of hot dog stew. His may have been the most celebrated, but was far from the only, dog stew emporium in the city.

After Silence read this, and of course shared it with our friend Ben with an appropriate amount of outraged commentary, we began threatening Shiloh at every instance of bad behavior with instantaneous exportation and being sold by the pound to Mr. Moon.

Since Shiloh weighs more than 90 pounds, we figured we could get a decent return on investment, especially if Mr. Moon was willing to pay shipping costs. Loud barking and destroying our rugs while rushing through the house brought pointed comments about how meaty Shiloh’s thighs were, and how succulent they would be in a stew.

Admittedly, these comments appeared to be completely lost on Shiloh, but they sure made us feel better about her outrageous behavior. Recently, though, we’ve had a change of tone in our threats. Silence read that the Vietnamese, who also love dog meat and believe that eating it brings good luck, have apparently recently begun to also embrace dogs as pets. Or, at least, high-end dogs; the rest are still consigned to the pot, and apparently the devoted pet-dog owners enjoy their lucky dog-meat dishes as much as everybody else.

Silence, a devout vegetarian, practically beat our friend Ben over the head with the offending article while ranting on (and on, and on) about how perverse people could be when deciding which animals could be sacrificed for meat and which were considered cherished family members. But she didn’t show me the article because of that, but rather, because it said that a pet German shepherd could bring as much as $40,000 (U.S. dollars) in Vietnam.

Okay, we’re not Einsteins, but we don’t think we could get that much from Mr. Moon, no matter how hefty Shiloh is or how much he’s paying per pound. So we’ve changed our threat to benefit our bottom line. Now, when Shiloh misbehaves, we inform her that we’re buying her a one-way ticket to Vietnam, and that we hope she’ll appreciate the contribution she’ll be making to our bank account.

Mind you, she pays no more attention to the latest threat than she did to our promises to sell her to Mr. Moon. But we don’t care. Every time we mention her future fate, we can sit back, relax, and imagine what we’d do with $40,000. And, once we feel totally cheered up, we can rub Shiloh’s belly and smooth her ears and enjoy the company of the best bad dog that ever was without having to shell out another cent. That would be the loving, happy dog with the huge smile and lolling tongue and bright eyes and waggily tail.

Not that she wouldn’t sell us in a heartbeat for $40,000 or even $40 worth of dog treats, or pizza and white Zinfandel for that matter. But that’s another story. (Don’t even think about giving her tequila; she’d sell you to Mr. Moon ASAP and claim you were a massive Bassett hound or something. One taste of spilled tequila on the floor, and the hilarious, horrifed expression and wrinkled muzzle, put Margaritaville forever on the back burner as far as Shiloh was concerned.)

Anyway, we encourage you to threaten your dog in the most inventive ways you can come up with. Even if the dog is oblivious, we promise, you’ll feel much better.

Shiloh to the rescue! October 13, 2013

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Shiloh, our friend Ben’s and Silence Dogood’s gigantic black German shepherd, is a wuss. Yes, her size and deep-chested barking do tend to unnerve FedEx and UPS men, not to mention the postman and water delivery guy.

But that’s just because, seeing a huge black dog racing between the front window and door, barking enthusiastically, they don’t notice the huge, happy smile and lolling tongue, the furiously wagging tail, and the excited tone of the bark: “Look, we have visitors!!!” People who actually come into the house immediately realize there’s nothing to fear except an enthusiastic licking.

Shiloh proved her lack of guard-dog chops once and for all when we were sleeping soundly and, at 2 a.m., there was a loud knocking on our (very isolated rural) door. Silence, half-asleep, was completely terrified, since in her groggy state it didn’t dawn on her that a murderer was unlikely to knock, however loudly, on the door. “BEN! What are you doing?!!” “I’m answering the door.” “NOOOO!!! Here! Take this pepper spray! Get the baseball bat! Do you want ME to take the pepper spray?!!”

It turned out to be the fire police, informing everyone on our street that a garbage truck had crashed into a telephone pole down the road, breaking it and pulling over a connected pole across the street. (Mercifully, no one was hurt.) They wanted us to turn off our power so the repair crew could get to work safely.

So where was our fierce watch beast, normally up and barking loudly (if cheerfully) at every passerby—and every passing dog—during all this? Well, there was Silence cowering in terror on the bed. And there was Shiloh, having picked this up from Silence, cowering very quietly in the pitch-dark on her bed at the foot of our bed, doubtless thinking that no one would notice her way down there, blending into the darkness.

Let us stress again that Shiloh loves dogs. Shiloh loves all dogs. She lives to play with dogs (and try to steal their food and toys, but that’s another matter). Keep this in mind as you read what recently happened.

So, last weekend, a friend of ours came over. His job is to go into people’s houses and advise them on how they can weatherproof their houses. And he told us that we’d be amazed to know how many of these homeowners had pitbulls, especially in urban areas. He said that many of the pitbulls were perfectly friendly, but many were not, to the point where the owners had to cage the pitbulls while our friend did his evaluations.

In one house he recently visited, the pitbull was so vicious that it dragged its huge crate across the floor after our friend, growling, snarling and barking as it tried to rip him apart. Our friend was so concerned that he recorded the dog’s behavior on his smartphone, in case he or his survivors needed it for legal purposes. “See? Just look at this,” he said, playing the clip of the snarling, growling, leaping dog. It was certainly an unnerving performance.

But what was truly remarkable was the transformation it produced in Shiloh. Our normally upbeat, happy-go-lucky dog heard those threatening sounds and recognized them, and what they meant, immediately. She didn’t know where they were coming from, and assumed they must be outside, since there was obviously no other dog in the house.

Rushing to the deck door, she let loose with such a ferocious, deafening, menacing round of barking as we’d never heard in our lives. Her meaning was perfectly clear: “Try to hurt my people and I’ll tear you end to end.”

Our friend hastily ended his clip, and the second the noise stopped, Shiloh stopped barking and went back to being her loving, friendly, “Want to play with this squeaky toy, and if not, how about a treat?” self. But now there was no doubt in our minds: If we were truly under threat, from a dog, at any rate, Shiloh would protect us with everything she has.

Our friend Ben guesses that, ultimately, it’s just poetic justice. I wouldn’t (under threat of my life) dare to call Silence cowardly, but as the incident related earlier in this post might suggest, she’s not exactly fearless. However, the mere thought of someone laying a harmful hand on Shiloh turns this timid lamb into a raging lion. “If I ever found someone trying to hurt her, I would pound them into pulp! They might not live to regret the day they ever laid a hand on her!!!”

Gee. If only I could get her to feel that way about me…

The good shepherd. March 12, 2013

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Silence Dogood here. Our friend Ben and I grew up with dogs and have now had three dogs together, and our pre-Shiloh experience has been consistent: Our dogs were wonderful, our dogs were loving, and of course we adored them, but our dogs had not one ancestral or breed instinct to share between them.

Our beloved black German shepherd, Pioneer Hawk’s Haven Shiloh von Shiloh Special (that’s just Shiloh to you), therefore came as a considerable shock. Shiloh is first and foremost a shepherd, and her breed instincts shape her behavior. Yes, she’s a happy, joyous, loving dog who adores romping with her toys, performing “tricks” for treats, and generally lolling happily in our presence. But, unlike all the other dogs we’ve had and known, she knows she’s a dog with a job, and that job is to be a shepherd, to protect her flock.

Shiloh is happiest when her entire flock—me, OFB, our cats, Plutarch the Parrot, and our parakeets—are all in the same room, so she can comfortably keep an eye on us. She herds her toys into a tight group where she can keep an eye on them as well.

But human life isn’t like that. If, say, I’m in our home office on my computer, and OFB is at the kitchen table on his computer, Shiloh will dutifully split the difference, lying in the living room where she can easily rush to my or OFB’s defense should the need warrant it. If OFB is outside and I’m inside, Shiloh will rush to every window and door, trying to locate OFB, and alternate her patrolling with rushing back to me to make sure all is well.

Shiloh does her job beautifully, the job she was born to do. She loves us, and we love her so. How blessed we are to be in the care of such a good shepherd!

How do they know themselves? March 7, 2013

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It’s so easy for humans to recognize themselves as human. We see our families, our fellow humans, every day. We see our own human faces in the mirror. But what about dogs who have never seen a mirror, have been separated from their parents and siblings at 8 weeks old, have been sent to live in a home without other dogs?

This fascinates our friend Ben, especially watching the identification of our current beloved dog, our black German shepherd, Shiloh. It’s not like Shiloh is looking in a mirror or being told “I’m a German shepherd.” Instead, we adopted her as a puppy and she’s grown up with our neighbors’ dogs and the dogs she met in puppy playschool and her training classes. There was not a single other German shepherd in the bunch.

Shiloh loves all the other dogs, though let’s just say that her love isn’t always reciprocated. But apparently, she understood that the other dogs were playmates but ultimately had nothing to do with her. When she met a senior German shepherd, and only then, she became completely submissive.

This wasn’t limited to her, as I saw when we took Shiloh to the vet’s for a checkup. A German shepherd puppy was there for his or her checkup as well. The puppy barked up a storm and attempted to dominate every other dog in the waiting room, despite his diminutive size compared to theirs. But when we brought Shiloh in, this behavior stopped immediately, and the puppy kowtowed to Shiloh, acknowledging her as top dog. We’d seen Shiloh do this herself when, and only when, she encountered a mature German shepherd.

How on earth do they know? Separated from their families two months after their birth, with no mirrors or other aids to show what they look like and what their fellow breed members look like, how can they immediately understand that this dog, out of the millions of dogs, is like them, is connected to them?

Could we humans really recognize each other under similar circumstances? Maybe, but I doubt it.

How about a dog bird? June 24, 2012

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Silence Dogood here. Our friend Ben and I have had two beautiful, wonderful golden retrievers, Molly and Annie. Golden retrievers are what are called bird dogs: When they see a bird, they stop, lift up a front leg, and “point” in the bird’s direction. They also have what is called a “soft mouth,” so they can retrieve a duck or other game bird after it’s been shot without biting into it. Labrador retrievers and spaniels are also bird dogs.

These days, OFB and I have the pleasure of living with our beloved black German shepherd, Shiloh, whose herding instincts are superb but whose hunting instincts are nil. Squirrels send most dogs we know nuts, chasing them and barking endlessly in frustration, long after the squirrels have gained the safety of the trees. Shiloh just watches them (in silence, thank God). Baby raccoons waddle in front of her; she looks like she’s trying to figure out the best way to herd them—if only she weren’t on this wretched leash!—so she could keep them safely under guard.

Yesterday, I was taking Shiloh outside for a bathroom break when we had a new (and very endearing) experience. We were in the backyard, bound for the circle of trees, known as the Circle of Doom, that’s Shiloh’s outdoor bathroom area. I saw that two robins were blocking our path. One flew out of the way as it saw us approaching. The other held its ground.

I realized that I wasn’t looking at two adult robins, but at a parent and its just-fledged offspring, whom it was teaching to cope with life outside the nest. It was this toddler robin, probably on its very first flight, that was still in our path. I brought myself and Shiloh to a full stop to give the little robin time to run or fly away.

But it didn’t. It looked at us with the most extreme interest, and then began making a beeline right for us, running over the lawn on unsteady legs. All the while, its distressed parent hovered nearby, calling what no doubt translated as “What are you doing? Get back here!!! That dog is going to swallow you in one bite! And what about that scary person? Come back! COME BAAAACK!!!” Naturally, the young robin completely ignored its parent’s frantic cries.

Shiloh and I watched this phenomenon with quiet fascination. As it became clear that the little bird really was going to run right into us unless I took action, I took Shiloh back to the house, not because I thought she would hurt the robin, but because I was concerned about causing further distress to its parent. When we came back out later, both robins were gone.

I guess we’d had our first encounter with a dog bird.

            ‘Til next time,

                        Silence

My funny valentine. February 14, 2012

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Silence Dogood here. Our friend Ben and I exchanged Valentine’s gifts and cards this morning: for him, a board game, German Shepherdopoly (our beloved black German shepherd, Shiloh, also signed his card); for me, a copy of Tony Bourdain’s latest collection of kitchen-themed essays, Medium Raw. We were both not just pleased with our own gifts but eager to read/play the other’s, so I’d rank this as a successful Valentine’s Day.

All was not bliss, however, and not just because OFB forgot to clean the litterbox (as I recently discovered). We’d decided to postpone our Valentine dinner until Thursday, when we’ll go to Wild Rice, a favorite Japanese/Chinese/Thai restaurant. Tonight we’re going to celebrate with our Friday Night Supper Club friends.

I’d made a batch of my luscious spaghetti sauce this weekend (you can search for the recipe by typing “spaghetti sauce” in our search bar at upper right) and had plenty left over, so I volunteered to make and bring lasagna* and a yummy loaf of bread; our friends would provide salad and wine.

Not exactly stress-inducing, right? Wrong. Suddenly two extra guests were added to the list, bringing the total to seven. And unlike so many dishes—soups, sauces, chili, stir-fries, you name it—lasagna won’t expand to feed additional mouths.

In a normal home, this wouldn’t be a problem: You’d just make either a bigger pan of lasagna or two pans. But ours is not a normal home. We have a vintage Caloric (yes, that really is its unfortunate name) gas stove, and its oven stopped working several years ago. I’m convinced that all it needs is a good cleaning, but finding someone who can still work on Caloric stoves is difficult and finding the money to pay them, or replace the venerable and much-loved stove with even a used model (it’s extra-wide), is impossible. As a stop-gap, we bought a countertop convection/toaster oven, which is usually ample for me and OFB. It is not ample enough, however, for either a large pan or two pans of lasagna. I’ve had to restrict my baking, roasting, broiling and etc. to pans, trays and the like that would fit into the toaster oven.

Big deal, you might think, just make two pans. But I only have one pan that would work for lasagna. It would be a huge pain to have to cook two pans one at a time anyway. And then there’s the issue of the ingredients. My homemade spaghetti sauce is rich, thick, chunky, incredible. But what if I don’t have enough for two pans? Will some diners get a luscious piece of lasagna made of premium sauce, and others get a boring serving made with store-bought? Aaaarrgghhh!!!

So of course I was roaming the house screaming and wringing my hands over this, much to poor OFB’s dismay. (I’m sure he would have loved to say “And happy Valentine’s Day to you, too!” but fortunately he resisted.) And I need to buy birthday presents for a good friend I’m seeing tomorrow and for our neighbor, whose birthday happens to fall on Valentine’s Day. Pressure!!! The day already seems far too short, and of course, the money far too tight.

I decided to focus instead—for a minute or two, anyway—on the pleasant, stress-free prospect of our Thursday supper at Wild Rice. OFB has a bag of clothes to give to Goodwill, which is just down from the restaurant, so I wanted to remind him to be sure to bring it.

Wait—Goodwill! Last time we went over there, I’d found a square Corning casserole dish and top that I knew would fit in our toaster oven, yet be big enough to make a good-size lasagna. I’d snapped it up, but hadn’t yet used it and had forgotten about it. Whoa, problem solved! Surely I can get eight squares of lasagna out of that dish without having to even try to make a second one. And one lucky person can have seconds!

What a relief. Looks like Valentine’s Day is going to be a success after all.

Wishing each and every one of you lots of love and joy today and every day!

               ‘Til next time,

                             Silence 

* I’ve been struggling with the lasagna/lasagne issue for several years, but have finally come up with a solution that satisfies me. In Italian, in this case, “a” indicates singular and “e” indicates plural. There are several pieces of lasagna pasta used to make the dish, so the pasta would be lasagne. But there is only one dish: lasagna.

A very spoiled dog. January 30, 2012

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Silence Dogood here. Our friend Ben and I dropped by what used to be called a dog show, but is now apparently a “canine learning experience,” in nearby Allentown this past weekend. Our goals were to find a special toy for our black German shepherd, Pioneer Hawk’s Haven Shiloh von Shiloh Special (that’s just Shiloh to you), check out the German shepherd booth, and admire all the other great dogs that typically turn out for this show.

Unfortunately, by the time we got there, all the breed booths had packed up and left. (And mind you, this was three hours before the show closed. Harrumph!!!) There wasn’t a German shepherd or golden retriever in sight. I was crushed.

But all was not lost. We were able to find a (comparatively) indestructible lizard toy for Shiloh, which of course she loves. (In the past, we’ve presented her with two bone-shaped toys by this company, and unlike the usual toy, it takes her months of hard work to dismantle them.) As amateur herpetologists, OFB and I were especially pleased to find the lizard.

I finally also got to see my first real, live shiba inu and a pair of akitas (all three super-friendly and all much smaller than I’d expected), as well as plenty of other wonderful dogs, all of whom were calm, happy and friendly. Anything but the stereotype of the nervous, high-strung show dog, and the owners encouraged us to interact with their dogs, also against stereotype, and spent lots of time talking with us about them, even as they were grooming or walking them pre-competition. We were very pleasantly surprised!

But the biggest (and best) surprise of the night was provided by OFB. Prior to the arrival of Shiloh on the scene, we’d had two golden retrievers, the sweet, gentle Annie and the huge, rambunctious Molly (better known as “the little Mollycule”). Ben had adored them both, but especially Molly, and we’d both been devastated to lose them to slow, excruciating deaths from cancer, Annie at just 2 1/2 and Molly at 7. Ben, of course, assumed we’d get a third golden.

I had other ideas. I’d always wanted a shepherd, and after our dual losses, I felt we needed a change. After a vigorous pro-Shiloh campaign, OFB reluctantly caved, and we brought our little lacquer black puppy home. For me, it was love at first sight, from the comical conehead effect of huge, not-quite-risen ears to the bright eyes and joyous, nonstop smile. (Even at almost-three, Shiloh remains the happiest dog I’ve ever seen.) Not so OFB.

Shiloh adored Ben from the first, but our beloved Molly still loomed large in his heart and he found it hard to make room for the new pup. He was a dutiful “dogfather,” but I could see that the spark just wasn’t there, and it broke my heart. Shiloh never gave up on him, though. Lying close beside his chair when he was home, bringing him toys, romping around him, ecstatically happy when he would return home or whenever they’d walk and play together, she must have worked on him like water on stone.

The transformation became clear to me as we were leaving the dog show. “Which did you like better, the shiba inu or the akitas?” I asked him.

“They were all nice dogs,” he answered, gesturing to the entire show floor and all the breeds we’d visited with. “But I like German shepherds.”

Thanks be to dog.

                 ‘Til next time,

                                Silence

Puppy lust. January 7, 2012

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Silence Dogood here. Puppy lust is a terrible thing, at least when you live in a small cottage with a huge black German shepherd and three large cats, not to mention a parrot, three parakeets, and fish. Still, if you love dogs, you know how irresistible it is.

Our beautiful girl, Pioneer Hawk’s Haven Shiloh von Shiloh Special, will turn three this coming February 8. Shiloh’s still very much a puppy at heart, but the days of the adorable huge, floppy fruit-bat ears (it takes a while for German shepherd ears to rise) are long past. (Which is not to say that Shiloh’s ears aren’t still amazingly huge.) Shiloh is the happiest dog our friend Ben and I have ever seen. But wouldn’t she be even happier with a new puppy to play with?! 

This question arose again yesterday when OFB and I went to our tiny, local, dog-friendly bank. We of course took Shiloh with us. (She participates in their pet and people cancer fundraiser every year, and all the tellers know and love her.) I went in first, then returned to the car while OFB and Shiloh took their turn and Shiloh shamelessly cadged not one but two treats.

When they returned, the conversation went like this:

Our friend Ben: Gee, the teller mentioned that her fiance just got a black German shepherd puppy.

Silence: What!!! Where did he get it?!!!

OFB, frantically backpedalling: Uh, I don’t know. It didn’t occur to me to ask.

Silence: WHAT?!!!

OFB: Er, what difference does it make? We can’t afford a new puppy anyway, and we don’t have room for one, either. You know that… 

Silence (ignoring this): Which teller was it?

OFB: The young blonde on the far left.

Silence: I know her. I’ll ask her next time I’m in. Maybe the breeder is local. Maybe I can talk her into bringing in some puppy pictures, or at least sharing the breeder’s website.

OFB: Aaaagghhhh!!!!

Silence (innocently): Well, Ben, as you say, we can’t afford a puppy. So what harm can it do?

OFB: Silence, we don’t have room for another dog!

Silence: Well, what about a Shiba Inu, then? They’re hardly bigger than our cats. And think how beautiful a white Shiba would look with our black Shiloh!

OFB: Say, did you happen to read that piece on Yahoo about why longterm relationships break up?

Silence: GRRRRRRRRR…

[curtain]

Oh, well. It was worth a try! And I think I’ll still have a chat with that teller.

Do you have puppy lust? And if so, what kind of puppy are you lusting after? Please share with us! I love to picture adorable puppy faces.

               ‘Til next time,

                             Silence

Happy birthday Shiloh! February 8, 2011

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Our friend Ben and Silence Dogood’s black German shepherd, Pioneer Hawk’s Haven Shiloh von Shiloh Special, turns two years old today, February 8. We feel very proud and privileged to have shared our home and our hearts with our big, beautiful girl for the past two years.

It’s hard to believe that Shiloh was ever as small and funny-looking as our puppy pictures remind us that she was when we first brought her home. You see, a German shepherd puppy’s ears flop over, and they don’t begin to rise into the upright position for which the breed is known until the pups are a couple of months old. Shiloh’s ears had just risen the week we got her, and, let’s just say, they were still a little wobbly. Every time we looked at her, one or both would be tilting off in some hilarious direction. We have photos of her where her huge ears were leaning together on top of her head like an elaborate fur bonnet. It still makes us laugh to look at them.

Back then, those enormous ears seemed like the biggest part of her (though her snout came a close second). But by now she’s more than grown into them, and is a credit to her breeders, Pioneer German Shepherds, from the tip of her nose to the end of her huge plumed tail. She looks like an enormous black wolf—at least, until you see the big, happy smile and the long, bright pink tongue lolling out happily. I doubt that most wolves are always rolling over for a belly rub, either.

And yes, those folded-down puppy ears still make an appearance when Shiloh wants us to rub her head, especially when she first wakes up and hasn’t remembered that she’s not still a puppy. True, it’s not her most noble look, to say the least, but we think it just might be her most lovable.

To celebrate her birthday, we’ve gotten some special treats. It’s time to give her one now, so we’ll sign off.

Happy birthday Shiloh! We love you!!!