The reason this seemingly endless pandemic has not thrown my wellbeing completely asunder is due to the love of my dogs. I’m thinking of this because our puppy, Sorcha, is one year old today, and in looking back over the past year, much of which seems shrouded in the dark unknown hasn’t been so dark after all because raising a puppy, while the world’s been on pause, has been a bright light at the center of everything.
Here is Sorcha on August 22, 2019, the day she was born.
Here is Sorcha’s first photoshoot at 31/2 weeks old.
So much of my downtime has been devoted to raising a puppy that it’s been a delightful distraction.
Sorcha is the fifth German shepherd we’ve had over the past 20 years. The thing about shepherds is once you have one, no other dog breed will suffice. GSD’s verge on having human intelligence, surpass it, if you factor in devotional, emotional intelligence, and in many respects, raising a German shepherd is like raising a kid. Their combined energy and curiosity coupled with their need to please has caused many a shepherd owner to remark, “If you don’t give them a job, they’ll find one,” and I believe this is true. It, therefore, makes a German shepherd easy to train; all that’s necessary is militant consistency. Shepherds delight in rules and boundaries. They flourish when they perceive a schedule. When shown an activity, the time piece in their constitution calibrates forever. Shepherds are sticklers for time, and get animated should you veer from their schedule, especially when it involves something they deem rewarding— a walk, playing with a ball, their dinner. This makes them conveniently predictable. If you need nothing else from your dog, you need them predictable.
We had two German shepherds, when we brought Sorcha home: Ceili and Ronin, who were well into their sixth year when I got puppy fever. In rationalizing, I told my husband that we wouldn’t want what happened with our first two shepherds to recur, meaning when our beloved nine year old, Shadow, went to heaven,
our eleven year old shepherd, Secret, was, for the first time, a disillusioned, solitary canine.
(Above is Shadow, on the Mission Trail in Carmel, California. Below, is our gorgeous female, Secret, whose name came from Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets)
The void was so apparent for all of us when Shadow died, that soon thereafter, we acquired Ceili at 11 weeks old. ( Here is Ceili fully grown.)
Four months later, when Secret unexpectedly died, it broke my heart all over again, and once again, we were a one dog household. So, we brought our first German shepherd male home and named him Ronin, which meant we now had two shepherds roughly the same age.
(Here is Ronin in all his male magnificence.)
All this leads to how we came to include Sorcha. I waged a puppy campaign this time last year, rationalizing that our lifestyle is unthinkable in a shepherdless world, and stating the obvious, which is to say that when the sad inevitable comes to Ceili and Ronin, we’ll still have a shepherd who loves them, and is six years behind them. Now, Sorcha completes the triage of three German shepherds, each with an Irish name.
It’s been a focal point every day, raising Sorcha, and let it be known that Ceili and Ronin have had an integral part in her rearing. Being, as it is, that dogs are pack animals, from the second Sorcha entered the fray, Ceili and Ronin took charge. They led the schedule, accepted no shenanigans, were clear with boundaries, and were touchingly magnanimous in sharing their lives. As it turns out, mature shepherds will raise a puppy for you!
This dynamic has fostered a secure, confident, fearless German shepherd. Sorcha’s seamless inclusion into an existing pack immediately spawned playful competition.
Case in point: here is Sorcha at 9 weeks, commandeering what was once Ronin’s frisbee. The look on Ronin’s face says it all!
At times, Sorcha wants to be helpful. Here she is at four months, as we were out in the yard, replacing some of the pine trees that burned during the Malibu, 2018 fires.
Here is Sorcha at six months old
Today, Ceili, Ronin, and Sorcha do everything as a pack
Today, I’m thanking my lucky stars for our canine companions. They seem to me heaven-sent during these unusual times!
Here is Sorcha today, on her one year birthday!.
Happy Birthday, Sorcha. Let us eat cake!