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Puppy Teaches Old Dog New Tricks

Pilot and Dyssa

We have heard more than once that a puppy can revive an old dog. It's contagious, all that exuberance and curiosity. Here's a story from one of our friends, who has adopted two Flood Farm puppies now.

"Three and a half years ago, I was sure my 8 year old German Shepherd Dog was dying. He was barely able to walk, was lightly dragging one leg, and was losing the light in his eyes. His energy was drained. We had been buddies for just 6 years. I had named him Mando, short for "commando" when he came to me at age 2 1/2 straight from Germany, fully trained in Schutzhund and ready for action. As it turned out, there wasn't that much real action for a highly trained protection dog, since his job was protecting one boring, middle aged woman. Ho hum.

Pilot's favorite cuddle zone: next to Mando

With the decline of Mando's prowess and health being so obvious and heart breaking, I realized I'd better get proactive finding his successor, sooner than I had planned. I realized I was weary of the responsibility that came with such a fully loaded, almost weaponized dog, but I was also in love with the breed, so I started my search for a GSD puppy to be ready to replace Mando, who was sinking fast. I was so fortunate to learn about Flood Farm, just at the right time! I told Cindy I wanted the most mellow female puppy in that current litter. Super mellow is what I wanted. M-E-L-L-O-W. The look of a well bred GSD is sufficient protection, I had learned during my years with Mando. At first Cindy and I had misgivings about Mando accepting a fragile puppy. Would he be too cranky in old age? He had always been dog aggressive. We had him evaluated by a professional trainer, who gave us a thumbs up. Still, I knew I would have to be super vigilant just because of the size difference. I named the new puppy Odyssa, even before I picked her up; the female Odysseus, she would travel through life with me in the "post-Mando" years.

A puppy can bring new life and energy to an old dog.

Surprise! Not only was Mando the perfect picture of paternal patience, he seemed to enjoy the relentless puppy bouncing off him non-stop. There was nothing that little black puff ball could dish out that resulted in the slightest rebuke from Old Mando. After years of social isolation (other dogs tended to fear Mando and resisted engaging with him) Mando had a soul mate who loved his attention. He never harmed a hair on her little wiggly body, even though puppies will test the patience of the best of us. Now, three and a half years after bringing home Mando's "replacement", Old Mando is still going strong! Hiking two miles a day, at almost 12 years old. That puppy 3 years ago was Mando's Fountain of Youth! And I was taught that having two well matched dogs is a beautiful thing. Soooo, now I have to be sure that Odyssa has a playmate after Old Mando eventually dies (I think he eventually will) - enter little puppy Pilot, from Flood Farm! And then there were three! I have no idea how long Old Mando will continue as my noble companion here on earth, but I do know he is in no hurry to leave. Reports of his impending demise are greatly exaggerated, and have been for years! (I now suspect I came close to boring my dog to death.) I should add, there is no puppy class out there as effective as a mature dog in the household. Old Mando basically raised Sweet Dyssa. If she ever misbehaves I admonish Mando, “Please! Discipline your puppy!” And now Old Mando and Sweet Dyssa are raising Puppy Pilot together. Sometimes they let me play with him. Life is most excellent, as I carefully step over three sleeping German Shepherd Dogs, and countless bones. I wouldn't have it any other way."

-Gail G.

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