Thursday, 27 March 2014

All About Our Shepherd, Rex

Rex, beside me in his dog bed, his smell wafting across my nose from time to time.  Is it stale cheesies or fresh corn chips? I can't really tell but I do not find it unpleasant, in fact I kind of like it.  He reminds me a little of the Big Bad Wolf in Red Riding Hood.  Those over-grown canines of his in that well pronounced snout are fearsome when I do glimpse them.  His slightly wolfish appearance aside, he does have beautiful eyes the colour of liquid caramel and his coat is the perfect standard for the German Shepherd breed of coal black back turning to reddish tan fading into blond underbelly.
It was written rather snootily in the book for this breed that a good Shepherd should never look common, and I think Rex does have a certain noble look about him.  It's not just us who thinks he is quite handsome; our vet and everyone who sees him all agree he is a beautiful example of his breed.
His value to us is first as a companion and second as a guard dog.  Wherever I am in the house, I can feel his eyes on me.  If I get up to move, he moves with me.  In fact, I have to be careful to keep him in my sight because I have almost tripped up in him.  When I go to the bathroom, he lies in wait in the hallway for me and usually his habit the last thing at night and first thing in the morning is to make his round to each side of the bed to check on us. He barks whenever a strange car comes up the lane or he hears an unusual sound.  He will especially bark at men, a trait we think was trained into him by his early training as a guard dog. 
Another interesting habit he has is to check out all packages brought into the house.  This includes grocery bags, parcels, new clothes, etc.  He has to give them all a good sniff...we joke about him sniffing for bombs.  We've seen him come into the house from outside and head straight to the new item.  I think he must carry our household inventory in his head.
I am disappointed that we have not been able to teach Rex to retrieve; he will fetch a ball but won't give it up to run for it again.  However he will run along with Murphy back and forth as she retrieves her balls.  He seems to enjoy this form of parallel play very much and is just as eager as she is to get outside for playing and walking.
I worry that he is not getting enough exercise.  He has an ample enclosed area, almost four acres, but usually only sprints at the odd squirrel or bigger bird.  I don't think these occasional bursts of energy are the kind of exercise he really needs.  We always trust him off leash for walks every day and he does sometimes run enough to pant, but not overly. 
Rex was almost two years old when we got him so it has been a process for him to learn to be a household pet; only now does he seek out pats and rubs and beg for treats.  However, his loyalty in the form of constant vigilance with us has been there right from the beginning.
He is a food thief; he once ate a steak and another time an entire chicken casserole (in the days before I understood the length of his reach!), but we love him very much and trust him to help keep us safe. 

Rex On the Creek Trail