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September 27-30
Shiloh Park, Zion, IL


 

EDUCATING ABOUT THE BREED ONE FANCIER AT A TIME

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Frosty

Recent discussions about the status of the White German Shepherd made me think back to my teenage years and the first dog that ever owned me. Her call name was Frosty and she was a white. She was smart, loving, empathetic, with beautiful dark eyes, ears perfectly placed atop a strong but feminine head and a long coat that was full and plush. She attracted attention wherever she went. She was a registered dog from one of the top breeders in Colorado; she was a thing of beauty and I loved her dearly.

Frosty wasn't really my dog, although she didn't know it. She just thought I lived in the big house across the alley instead of with her and Arnie and Betty Anderson, her actual owners. From the day the young couple moved in, I was fascinated by their dog. It started with chatting across the fence and petting the dog, quickly moved on to playing with her in their backyard and before long Frosty and I were taking long walks together.

My mother would not allow me to have a pet, at least not the 4-legged kind.. As a youngster I had a couple of goldfish and then a parakeet; neither were very good companions. The ban on cats and dogs were based on our back yard. Not that it was too small - it was huge. Not that it wasn't fenced - it was completely enclosed by a six-foot fence. No, the problem was it was too pretty. A crew of five arrived each Saturday morning to manicure the lawn. The flower bed that ran the complete length and across one side was professionally planted to have a variety of flowers blooming through all three seasons. No chance of letting a dog run around in that backyard. Perhaps a cat? No, because the birds were drawn to the trees and bushes and the marble birdbath, and a cat might catch one of them.

So when Frosty came into my life I was in heaven. After school I’d knock on the Andersons' back door, ask if I could take Frosty for a walk and off we’d go. Along the way we’d run into neighborhood kids who often mistook her for some other breed. “Oh, that’s a white Husky,” some would say and I, feeling a bit smug, would correct them. Most claimed they’d never heard of that breed, so I would spell it out for them: s-a-m-o-y-e-d.

When the time came for Frosty to be bred, I went with the Andersons to the stud dog's home in the mountain. When we arrived Arnie declared that I should not be allowed to watch – it wasn’t appropriate for a teenage girl to see such things. Every time I think of that I have to laugh. Needless to say the resulting puppies were adorable and I spent a lot of my summer helping Betty bathe and groom Frosty and her brood.  All too soon Arnie was recruited by a major engineering firm in California, an opportunity he couldn't pass. I was sad to see them go, but broken-hearted to say good-bye to Frosty.

Fast forward a couple of years and I was off to college. My roommate had a dog - a German Shepherd Dog - and, believe it or not, her call name was Frosty also. She was larger and a little more intimidating than the first Frosty in my life, but we quickly became friends. That was a good thing because Nancie and I had different schedules and I would often be home alone with Frosty.

Frosty went pretty much everywhere with one or both of us in my old car with no back seat, until I got married and moved to Missouri. Four years later when I returned Frosty had not forgotten me. In fact she knew when I pulled up in front of the house, even though she hadn't seen me in all that time. Frosty the GSD was every bit as smart, loving and caring as Frosty the Samoyed. She also changed my mind about the breed I'd have. She was very intuitive and that was a deciding factor, along with maintenance. Our beloved GSDs are pretty much a wash-and-wear dog, whereas a Samoyed is more of a high maintenance breed.

Frosty was a great judge of people. When I began dating an old high school boyfriend, she was watchful. As he followed me into the house one day, she nipped him on the butt. That evening, when a group of us were sitting on the living room floor playing Monopoly, Frosty positioned herself right behind him, watching his every move. It was clear what she thought of him. I should have listened to her instincts - she knew better than I.

Frosty showed me what an incredible breed German Shepherd Dogs are. She had a huge vocabulary that grew as she did. She became a constant companion and adapted well to any new situation. But most of all she was empathetic. Once when I was lying down feeling rather sad, Frost laid down on her side facing me and very gently placed her paw on my cheek. It was perfectly clear that she was trying her best to comfort me -- and she did. When you have such obvious demonstrations of love and caring from a dog, you simply can't be sad any more.

Forty years later and many German Shepherd Dogs later, there have been many wonderful dogs, each of whom has taken a piece of my heart with them when they crossed the Rainbow Bridge. But I will always remember the two Frostys who taught me so much about the love of a good dog.