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Jennifer Biesterfeldt

My family has always had German Shepherds and/or Collies. I considered myself to be knowledgeable about dogs. Our family German Shepherds were very obedient and intelligent. Our Collies were very intelligent, a tad willful, but generally obedient. All were wonderful additions to our family. Two years ago our Collie, Odin passed away of old age. He was an amazing dog in so many ways. Our family was crushed. After a few months we decided to bring another dog into our family. A nearby farmer had a litter of Great Pyrenees available. The GP parents worked the livestock on the farm. The puppies lived with their parents in the barn with the goats and sheep. The other puppies were going to other farmers in the area. But one puppy, a handsome ball of white fluff had eye problems that required surgery. The surgery would require weeks of downtime to heal which would be problematic for his herding career. We fell in love with the little polar bear puppy immediately and decided to add him to our family. We named our wonderfully affectionate pup Bailey's Irish Creme.

Bailey was a remarkably fast learner. He was housetrained within a week. At that point, the greater challenge was getting him to come into the house. I think he missed barn life. And he was a smidge nocturnal. But he did come in. More than anything else he wanted to be with his new family.

Bailey also wanted to work. He especially enjoyed the challenges of herding our cats. They were not nearly as amused by their new guardian as we were. Fortunately they could escape onto higher ground, bookshelves, trees etc. Of course we had to find an acceptable middle ground on cat herding techniques. Nocturnal and indoor cat herding was NOT acceptable. Outdoor cat herding is acceptable with minimal barking.

Which brings us to the barking. Barking is a constant. We're convinced he barks at satellites and butterfly wings ...and

everything else in between. On garbage day we have to keep him inside. He just doesn't get why we let the nefarious big truck steal the precious contents in the garbage cans. He puts his head in my lap, looks at me with those big brown eyes, and grumbles when I won't open the front door to let him protect and retrieve the garbage.

As Bailey grew larger and larger, he also became more opinionated. He does not like baths. Period. My husband and teenage son attempted to force Bailey to take a bath. They took him to the bathroom. I'm not entirely clear on what happened when the bathroom door was closed. But when the door opened again, my husband and son looked like they took a bath in their clothes. But Bailey was almost as dry as he was when they started. My husband mumbled something about the dog doesn't like baths and he can clean himself. We settled on brushing him thoroughly and hosing him when more is needed.

Bailey is absolutely loving and dedicated to his family. He would put his life on the line to protect his family (cats and kids equally). Bailey does not view himself as subservient to anyone. He recognizes my husband and I are the alphas. (Apparent in GP thinking thats more like a democracy than a Aristocracy or dictatorship). When we call him, he will come... but he will smell the roses...the ground, the fire hydrant, and anything else of interest on the way. Bailey is indeed a wonderfully loving companion. But he is a completely different personality from our past Collies and German Shepherds. He is very much an independent thinker with opinions and a willingness to openly disagree. And yes, if the gate is open and he decides to go for a moonlight jog....he won't hesitate to run like the wind. But he'll come back later to make sure the cats and kids are safe.

Richard Vinet

Thank you for your use of the word "guardian," Mr. Wilson. We are, in fact, guardians of our companion animals. I "own" my toaster. My relationship with it is nothing even remotely like my relationship with my beloved German Shepherd. It's time everyone realizes the difference between living, feeling beings and intimate objects.

Pat Boring

During these darkly pessimistic days (I don't have a Great Pyrenees to distract me) nothing makes me laugh more than your columns. I wish you could write a column every day, but realize how busy you are trying to figure out your GPs. Thank you so much! Patricia

Welcome to the discussion.

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