A Monthly Column of Memories and Anecdotes
MEMORIES This Is the Author, not Rachy
Rachy was given his name when he joined me in my office to listen to a Rachmaninoff
album. He loved music, people, and me, not necessarily in that order. From day one there was a strong bond with
us - I knew it and he knew it. We were buddies,
partners, and best friends. He was everything that one could ask for in a dog, except he did not seem aggressive
enough. He was never shy, apt at greeting people, and did not cower when we went out to shoot. But he was so mellow
and composed it did not seem real.
I soon realized that he was a valuable asset in my times of counsel with
people. He loved to go to the office and would greet people as they came, show them to a seat, and then lay at
my side while we talked. So many times he would sense trouble,
sorrow and grief in people and rise from my side to set near them, leaning over to make his warm fur available
for them to pet. It was not unusual to watch people slip to the floor beside him, embrace him and cry openly in
their sorrow. He never struggled to get away as
people used him as their 'warm fuzzy.'
He was not only a great point of therapy for others, he would sense my own
growing tiredness and transferred pain, and make me go with him, outside to walk with him for a minute. Just a
potty break? Not at all. There was something uniquely
sensitive about him. He knew emotions, he knew people.
I was setting at my desk going over some papers when he let out a hushed
growl, then went to stand at the open door. I looked out to see a fellow coming toward the office that I really
did not like. I like people. I used to say I never met a person I didn't like, until I met this guy. I was amazed
to see Rachy reacting in the same way, before I even knew the guy was coming to see me. When he stepped into the
office, Rachy went to the far end of the room as far away as he could get, and set staring at him through transfixed
dark clear eyes. I still do not know why I don't like that guy, but neither did Rachy.
His finest day came when we arrived at the office to talk to a lady who
arrived before us and was setting on a bench, under a tree at the front entrance. Rachy got out of the car with
me and started toward her, then sensing her fear, stopped
dead in his tracks and watched me go to talk to her. Her bandaged arm held the key to her reaction. The day before
she had been bitten by a large poodle in a shopping mall parking lot. Walking between some cars, the dog had reached out of the window of the car it was in and ripped
her arm to shreds. Over two dozen stitches were required to close the wounds. I apologized for frightening her
and retreated to put Rachy back in the car, but something of his pause and sensitivity to the situation told her
that he was different. She acknowledge great fear, but asked if I thought she should get back onto the horse, so
to speak, and face that fear with a dog - Rachy. I assured her that he would not bite her, and if she desired to
face it, this was the dog to do it with. She paused for a moment and then said, "OK." Instinctively,
as though understanding the conversation, Rachy rose from his setting position, and walked slowly and carefully
toward her, pausing several times to allow her to relax. Then I told her to hold out her hand. She did, but with
the palm upward as though to receive something. Rachy advanced, even more slowly, then ever so gently placed his
head in her opened hand, closed his eyes, and rubbed his chin and neck in her open hand. Instantly she extended
the other hand, cuddling his entire head, and
placed her face on his. She cried tears of release. I cried tears of joy. No more beautiful picture could have
been set for recovery and repair of the torn soul and the fearful heart.
My Rachy - therapy dog and counselor, touched many people. He did things
I could not do to calm the spirit, lift the heart, instill hope and give courage. Many are so much better for having
met him - as am I. Dear God how I miss him.
This is Rachy
Sonnet was more than a dog, she was a reincarnation. More human than
many of the so-called people of my acquaintance, she exhibited both brains and a highly developed sense of humor. Let me explain.
It was a cold rainy afternoon and feeling bored being cooped up in the large Victorian house, my dog and I had the blues. We could not
take our usual walk, play ball or go on
our famous squirrel hunts. As the day wore on, both of
us needing exercise, began to tumble on the floor. With tushies in the air and eyeball to eyeball, the challenge was set! The game advanced to a game of "chase." I began to run after her, laughter peeling
from me as she managed to stay...just out of reach.
I increased my speed, she increased hers. Around and
around the central staircase we ran, darting from room to room and back again past the stairs. Out of breath and laughing, I skidded around the next
corner heading at a dead run towards the dinning room...and for some
reason, I just happened to glance up. Sitting
very quietly on the staircase, about 10
Helen Franklin and Sonnet
Cowboy...my best pal
When I was a child, I dreampt of having a black and tan
One day, when I was 28 years old, I sat in my driveway watching my husband do some yardwork, when the miracle happened. Walking up the long drive was a black and tan German Shepherd that was the spitting image of Rin Tin Tin.
I walked towards him, but a little hesitant. He was a very large dog and I knew nothing about his temperament. He wagged his fox-like tail and followed me home. I opened the tailgate of my Jeep to sit on while I marveled at the fella and he jumped in as if to say, "Let's go for a spin, Mom!"
Well, Cowboy, as we named him, had no tags or other I.D. We called the local pounds and shelters who had no reports of a lost Shepherd. The newspapers had no lost Shepherds advertised either. My dream dog had just walked into my life.
Cowboy and I went on to train in AKC obedience where he always scored high. Then, we experienced Schutzhund and recieved a title there. Afterwards, we decided to do therapy work at a retirement home where the folks there adored him. He had such a calmness about him that no one was ever afraid and he was always the perfect gentleman.
Cowboy never showed any aggressive nature (off the Schutzhund field), but I always knew he would be there for me. He had such a common sense about him and always sized up every individual and situation. Occasionally, we would witness conflict among other dogs and he would step in and litterly separate the dogs and stop the dispute. Many times, he chased off aggressive dogs that came out after my child and I on our afternoon walks. And when we had strangers come to our house, he always went to them quietly and gave them the once over.
To describe Cowboy's personality in words is hard to do. A trainer once told me that he had a great "nerve-package". Cowboy always carried himself as if he was royalty. He loped on our walks like a beautiful stallion ...almost prancing. He was not high strung and had remarkable intelligence...even for a GSD. He was loyal and sensitive...more in tune to my feelings then any other shepherd I have since owned.
Cowboy is approximately 10 years old now. I can only hope that I have many more years of walking on the beach with him, camping in the desert, or playing in the snowy mountains. I fear that I will never have another dog like him. Though, I know that he will never be replaced, I hope to at least have a dog half as wonderful as him again.
Tag (our newest GSD), Brooke, and Cowboy pictured.
More GSD Memories
BY: Kim McNamara
Keeper had the most correct temperament of any GSD I have ever owned. A
little too aloof for my liking, she would tolerate only a minimal amount of petting before she'd remove herself
from my hugs and kisses and go lie down about seven feet away - just out of my reach. But it seems that,
no matter where in the house I'd decide to camp out for a couple of hours, she'd always be in that room with me.
Keeper was just very self-contained. She feared no-one; and she needed no-one;
The one thing in life Keeper hated the most was being confined. There
wasn't a crate, or a run, or even a room in the house that she couldn't escape from. She could figure out
how to climb over, dig under, or use her nose as a tool to flip latches or un-weave chain link. Once freed,
she never went anywhere; she just enjoyed the challenge of getting out. Because she could. Consequently,
she was a
The funniest thing Keeper ever did occurred one Halloween. I had purchased some miniature candy bars to give to the kids in the neighborhood, and had passed most of them out when it was time for me to go to church. So off I went, leaving Keeper in charge. Several hours later, as I pulled back into the driveway, I suddenly remembered that I had left the bowl of candy on a table beside the front door. I rushed there to look, and sure enough the bowl was on the floor and the candy, about six bars, was nowhere to be found. I tried not to panic; knowing chocolate is bad for dogs, I watched Keeper closely for signs of possible allergic reaction. She seemed perfectly fine. In fact, she looked pretty happy with herself. About 20 minutes later I noticed something tucked discreetly behind a potted plant. It was one of the chocolate bars! And as I scanned around the living room, I saw another candy bar just barely visible behind the stereo cabinet! As I got into the spirit of the hunt, I found candy hidden under some newspapers on a kitchen chair, under a pillow on the sofa, and behind another piece of furniture. I think she ate maybe one. And that's how Keeper turned Halloween into Easter for me.
Keeper kept up the antics her entire life, which I was blessed to share
for nearly 14 years. She became one of the very first GSDs to be listed in the Thirteen Club.
Jecoda's Keepsake -- daughter of Kane, student of Houdini, keeper of my heart.