Posts Tagged ‘German Shepherd dogs’
The concluding part-two of meeting Pharaoh
In yesterday’s first part of my recollection of having Pharaoh in my life for over ten years, I focussed on the early days. Today, I want to take a more philosophical view of the relationship, right up to the present day.
The biggest, single reward of having Pharaoh as my friend goes back a few years. Back to my Devon days and the time when Jon Lavin and I used to spend hours talking together. Pharaoh always contentedly asleep in the same room as the two of us. It was Jon who introduced me to Dr. David Hawkins and his Map of Consciousness. It was Jon one day who looking down at the sleeping Pharaoh pointed out that Dr. Hawkins offered evidence that dogs are integrous creatures with a ‘score’ on that Map of between 205 and 210. (Background story is here.)
So this blog, Learning from Dogs, and my attempt to write a book of the same name flow from that awareness of what dogs mean to human consciousness and what Pharaoh means to me. No, more than that! From that mix of Jon, Dr. David Hawkins, experiencing the power of unconditional love from an animal living with me day-in, day-out, came a journey into my self. Came the self-awareness that allowed me to like who I was, be openly loved by this dog of mine, and be able to love in return. As is said: “You cannot love another until you love yourself.“
Trying to pick out a single example of the bond that he and I have is practically impossible. I have to rely on photographs to remind me of the thousands of times that a simple look or touch between Pharaoh and me ‘speaks’ to me in ways that words fail. Here’s an extract from my celebration of Pharaoh’s tenth birthday last June 3rd; written the following day. It comes pretty close to illustrating the friendship bond.
For many years I was a private pilot and in later days had the pleasure, the huge pleasure, of flying a Piper Super Cub, a group-owned aircraft based at Watchford Farm in South Devon. The aircraft, a Piper PA-18-135 Super Cub, was originally supplied to the Dutch Air Force in 1954 and was permitted by the British CAA to carry her original military markings including her Dutch military registration, R-151, although there was a British registration, G-BIYR, ‘underneath’ the Dutch R-151. (I wrote more fully about the history of the aircraft on Learning from Dogs back in August 2009.)
Anyway, every time I went to the airfield with Pharaoh he always tried to climb into the cockpit. So one day, I decided to see if he would sit in the rear seat and be strapped in. Absolutely no problem with that!
My idea had been to fly a gentle circuit in the aircraft. First I did some taxying around the large grass airfield that is Watchford to see how Pharaoh reacted. He was perfectly behaved.
Then I thought long and hard about taking Pharaoh for a flight. In the Cub there is no autopilot so if Pharaoh struggled or worse it would have been almost impossible to fly the aircraft and cope with Pharaoh. So, in the end, I abandoned taking him for a flight. The chances are that it would have been fine. But if something had gone wrong, the outcome just didn’t bear thinking about.
So we ended up motoring for 30 minutes all around the airfield which, as the next picture shows, met with doggie approval. The date was July 2006.
Moving on again. This time to another flying experience. To the day when Pharaoh and I flew out of London bound for Los Angeles and a new life with Jeannie and all her dogs (16 at that time) down in San Carlos, Sonora County, Mexico. The date: September 15th, 2008. Just ten months after I had met Jean in Mexico and realised that this was the woman that I was destined to love! (Now you will understand why I described earlier the Jon Lavin, Dr. Hawkins, Pharaoh mix as the biggest, single reward of having Pharaoh as my friend!)
There followed wonderful happy days for me and Pharaoh. Gorgeous to see how Pharaoh became so much more a dog, if that makes sense, from having his own mini-pack around him. Those happy days taking us all forwards to Payson, AZ, where Jean and I were married, and then on to Merlin, Oregon arriving here in October, 2012.
I could go on! Hopefully, you get a sense, a very strong sense, of the magical journey that both Pharaoh and I have experienced since I first clasped him in my arms back in September, 2003.
Both Pharaoh and I are in the Autumn of our lives, he is 11 in June; I am 70 in November, and we both creak a little. But so what! Pharaoh has been my greatest inspiration of the power of unconditional love; of the need to smell the flowers in this short life of ours.
Thank you, my dear, dear friend!
‘Meeting’ this dog deserves two posts!
Almost two months ago, January 30th to be exact, the first of this ‘Meet the dogs‘ series was published. It came out of an idea from Jean and that January 30th post introduced Paloma to you, dear reader. Since then we have told you about Lilly, Dhalia, Ruby, Casey, Hazel, Sweeny, and Cleo.
So today’s post is the last of the Meet the dogs stories; it is about Pharaoh. I’m going to indulge myself and tell you the story of this most wonderful of dogs over today and tomorrow.
This is Sandra Tucker, owner of Jutone Kennels in Devon, England, where Pharaoh was born on June 3rd, 2003. Here’s something written elsewhere that conveys my feelings that first day that I met this puppy.
In no time at all I was turning into the farm driveway, noticing the painted sign for Jutone & Felsental German Shepherds alongside the open, wooden gate.
I turned off the engine and was about to swing my legs out of the open driver’s door when I saw a woman coming towards me.
“Hi, you must be Paul, I’m Sandra. Did you have any trouble finding us?”
I shook hands with her.
“Not at all. I did as you recommended when we spoke on the phone and went in to the local store and got final directions.”
Sandra smiled, her glasses almost slipping off the end of her nose.
“Dear Beth. She’s been running that local store since God was a boy.”
She continued with a chortle in her voice, “Some say that Beth was at the store before our local pub, The Palk Arms, opened for business. And the pub’s been in the village for well over four-hundred years.” Sandra’s laugh was infectious and I caught myself already taking a liking to her. The sense of a strong, confident person struck me immediately. Indeed, a working woman evidenced by her brown slacks, revealing plenty of dog hairs, topped off with a blue T-shirt under an unbuttoned cotton blouse.
“Anyway, enough of me, Paul, you’ve come to get yourself a German Shepherd puppy.”
She turned towards a collection of grey, galvanised-sheeted barns and continued chatting as I fell into step alongside her.
“After we discussed your circumstances over the phone; where you live down there in Harberton, why you specifically wanted a German Shepherd dog, I thought about the last set of puppies that were born, just a few weeks ago.”
Sandra paused and turned towards me.
“While, of course, you can select whatever puppy you feel drawn to, my advice is to go for a male. Listening to your experiences of befriending a male German Shepherd when you were a young boy, I have no doubt that a male dog would result in you and the dog building a very strong bond. Indeed, I have a young male puppy that I want to bring out to you. Is that OK?”
Sandra turned and walked out of sight around the corner of the first barn leaving me standing there, my response presumably being taken for granted.
Something in her words struck me in a manner that I hadn’t anticipated; not in the slightest. That was her use of the word bond. I was suddenly aware of the tiniest emotional wobble inside me from Sandra’s use of that word. Somewhere deep inside me was the hint that my decision to have a dog in my life was being driven by deeper and more ancient feelings.
My introspection came to an immediate halt as Sandra re-appeared. She came up to me, a beige-black puppy cradled under her left arm, her left hand holding the pup across its mid-riff behind his front legs, her right arm across her waist supporting the rear of the tiny animal.
I stood very still, just aware of feelings that I couldn’t voice, could hardly even sense, as I looked down at this tiny black, furry face, outsized beige ears flopping down either side of his small head.
It was unusually warm this August day and I had previously unbuttoned my cuffs and folded the shirt sleeves of my blue-white, checked cotton shirt back above both elbows leaving my forearms bare.
Sandra offered me the young, fragile creature. As tenderly as I could, I took the pup into my arms and cradled the gorgeous animal against my chest. The pup’s warm body seemed to glow through its soft fur and as my bare arms embraced the flanks of this quiet, little dog I realised the magic, the pure magic, of the moment. Something was registering in me in ways utterly beyond words but, nonetheless, as real as a rainbow might be across the green, Devon hills.
“How old is he, Sandra?”
“This little lad was born on June 3rd. So what are we today? August 12th. So he is ten weeks old as of today.”
June 3rd, 2003. I knew that this date had now entered my life in just the same way as had the birth-dates of my son and daughter; Alex and Maija.
The power of this first meeting was beyond anything I had expected, or even imagined. I thought that it was going to be a fairly pleasant but, nonetheless, unsurprising process of choosing a puppy. How wrong could I have been! What was captivating me was the pure and simple bodily contact between this young dog and me. No more than that. I was sensing in some unspoken manner that this was equally as captivating for this precious puppy-dog. For even at the tender age of ten weeks, the tiny dog appeared to understand that me holding him so longingly was bridging a divide of many, many years.
Sandra motioned with her arm, pointing out a bench-seat a few yards away alongside a green, well-manicured, lawn.
I very carefully sat down on the wooden-slatted bench and rested the beautiful animal in my lap. The puppy was adorable. Those large, over-sized ears flopping across the top of his golden black-brown furry head. His golden-brown fur morphing into black fur across his shoulders and then on down to the predominantly beige-cream colour of his soft, gangling, front legs. That creamy fur continuing along the little creature’s underbelly.
The puppy seemed almost to purr with contentment, its deep brown eyes gazing so very intently into mine. I was entranced. I was spellbound.
Never before had I felt so close to an animal. In a life-time of nearly sixty years including having cats at home when I was a young boy growing up in North-West London, and much later the family owning a pet cat when Alex and Maija were youngsters, I had never, ever sensed the stirrings of such a loving bond as I was sensing now. As this young puppy was clearly sensing as well. This was to be my dog. Of that I was in no doubt.
Let me leave you with a couple of other photographs taken from his early days.
Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine that in the year 2014 I would be writing about Pharaoh from a home-office desk in Southern Oregon sharing a happy life with a wonderful London lady, Jean, and more gorgeous animals than one could throw a stick at.
More on that shared journey with Pharaoh tomorrow!
Our beautiful young German Shepherd is one year old today.
How time flies! How life moves on!
On the 8th April, 2012, I wrote a piece about the arrival of Cleo into our home in Payson, Arizona. Then on the 26th April, I added a few more pictures to say how well Cleo was setting in. (I include the links in case you want to look at the pictures in those posts.)
Cleo was born on the 23rd January, 2012. Thus today is her first birthday. She has grown into the most loving, friendly dog and she is adored by all who meet her.
Here’s a picture of Cleo from last year.
Now two pictures taken this week. This first one showing Cleo lifting her head to the camera.
The next one showing Cleo and Sweeny having one of their frequent ‘kiss ins‘.
Finally, a picture of Cleo enjoying our recent snows.
We are so fortunate to share our lives with these beautiful creatures.
The mystery of the call of a dog in need of help.
Two days ago, I wrote a piece about how the evolution of the domestic dog has been reliably re-calibrated back to around 33,000 years ago. I quoted from an article in the Arizona Republic, here are the opening paragraphs of that article.
Tamed dogs may go back 33,000 years
by Anne Ryman – Jan. 24, 2012 11:33 PM
The Republic | azcentral.com
Dogs have been “man’s best friend” longer than any other animal. And, as it turns out, longer than previously thought.
A pair of research papers published in the past few years, one most recently by a team that includes the University of Arizona, significantly pushes back the timeline for domestication of dogs from about 14,000 years ago to more than 30,000 years ago.
Researchers at UA and universities in England and the Netherlands used radiocarbon dating to determine that the skull of a Siberian dog was about 33,000 years old. Slightly older dog remains were identified in Belgium a few years ago by a separate research team.
The full Post is here.
So moving on, and apologies for a bit of a personal muse.
Last night (the night of the 30th/31st Jan.) a single, gentle yelp from Pharaoh had me instantly awake. Initially hadn’t a clue about the time but instinctively knew it was an un-Godly hour! Jean and I had been late to bed and I was pretty tired when the lights went out – off to sleep in an instant. Ergo, waking up at 2am as it turned out to be, the classic deep-sleep time of the night, was challenging! It is also relevant to mention that Pharaoh is reliably a very good sleeper at night.
Yet, in literally an instant of time, I had transitioned from being totally asleep to being mentally alert wondering what had caused him to cry out. Pharaoh came to the side of the bed and let me rub his head, then went back to near the door and uttered another soft yelp. I knew without any doubt at all that he was in pain and lay on my back anticipating what would be coming – putting a dressing-gown on and leading his nibs out into a very cold and dark night!
Then a clawed paw on the door told me to get moving, and within moments of Pharaoh being outside, it was clear that he had a badly upset tummy.
The whole episode was repeated around 4.45 am.
It was later in the morning that I was reflecting with Jean about the evolution of the dog-human relationship that a) gave the dog the instinctive confidence to call out to his ‘master’ in a different ‘I need help‘ tone, and b) that the call was so rapidly interpreted by a human as a call for help from another species.
But dogs sleeping near or around their human companions for more than 30,000 years allows plenty of time for species bonding to develop in ways that are both beautiful and mysterious. Long may that bonding remain beautiful and mysterious.
Just a musing about this fabulous breed.
We had to put one of our dogs to sleep on Friday, not a GSD, but one of Jean’s rescued dogs from way back. At this moment in time (11am US Mountain Time, Saturday) I’m writing a piece about this wonderful dog that will appear tomorrow.
Thus not in the mood to post my usual light-hearted item for a Sunday. So I resorted to looking up an appropriate dog video on YouTube.
Came across this,
Of course, that reminded me of how precious our Pharaoh is and it only took a few moments to find a couple of earlier pics of him.
Here’s Pharaoh the day I collected him from GSD breeders Jutone‘s in Dartmoor, SW England. That’s Sandra Tucker, the owner of Jutone, with Pharaoh; the date being 12th August 2003 when Pharaoh was then just over 8 weeks old.
The next photograph was taken on the 11th March, 2008 at London’s Heathrow Airport. The occasion being the time that Jean came across to England from her home in Mexico. Jean came to see if the romance that had blossomed between us at Christmas in 2007 in San Carlos, Mexico was alive and well. Luckily, it was!
Thus it came to pass that in September, 2008, Pharaoh and I travelled out from Devon, England to Mexico where we lived until February, 2010, when Jean and I, Pharaoh and 12 other dogs and 6 cats relocated to Payson, Arizona.
Reflections on a year of Blogging.
Learning from Dogs would not be anything without you, dear reader. So what follows is an accolade to you. This Blog first saw the light of day on July 15th, 2009.
By the end of 2009 there had been a total of 15,800 viewers.
In comparison, by the end of 2010 there had been a total of 85,200 viewers, a growth of 439%!
Today, the last day of 2011, the total number of viewers for the year will be in excess of 243,000, a breathtaking increase over 2010 of nearly 158,000 viewers (184%).
So from Pharaoh and me, thank you all so very, very much and a Very Happy New Year to you all.
Big, big thanks to Dan G. for sending this to me.
Love dogs? Love German Shepherd dogs? Then sit back and love this.
From the BBC programme, That’s Life, filmed in 1986.
This week is a tough one for me with no internet access until the 18th. So I’m quickly offering items from elsewhere that have caught my eye.
Here’s another thoughtful, and powerful, reminder of the power of peace from Zen Habits.
‘The miracle is not to walk on water. The miracle is to walk on the green earth, dwelling deeply in the present moment and feeling truly alive.’~Thich Nhat Hanh
These days we have an abundance of luxuries, but I’ve found that excess actually decreases my enjoyment of life.
Sure, we can get massive amounts of rich foods, feasting to our heart’s content, stuffing ourselves in alarming displays of gluttony … but is that really enjoyable on a regular basis?
And yes, television can be fun, and so can ridiculously large parts of the Internet, but if it’s always on, if we’re always connected, doesn’t that lower the fun factor?
Excesses lead to all kinds of problems, but the biggest problem is that life is less enjoyable.
I’ve been finding that simplifying things means I can savor life more fully.
Savoring life starts with a mindset. It’s a mindset that believes that excess, that rushing, that busy-ness, that distractedness, isn’t ideal. It’s a mindset that tries instead to:
- do & consume less
- slow down
- be mindful & present
- savor things fully
It’s the little things that make life enjoyable: a walk with a loved one, a delicious book, a chilled plum, a newly blooming tree.
And by simplifying, we can savor life to the fullest.
Some ideas I’ve been considering lately:
1. Coffee: Instead of ordering a latte, mocha, cappuccino with whipped cream and cinnamon and shavings … simplify. Just get pure, good coffee (or espresso), brewed fresh with care and precision, with quality beans, freshly roasted. Make it yourself if you can. Drink it slowly, with little or nothing added, and enjoy it thoroughly.
2. Tea: I recently had tea with Jesse Jacobs, the owner of Samovar Tea Lounge, and he poured two different teas from tiny tea pots: Nishi Sencha 1st Flush and Bai Hao Oolong tea. It was fresh, hand-made tea from real leaves, not a tea bag, and it was simply delicious. Drink it slowly, with your eyes closed, fully appreciating the aroma … wonderful.
3. Workouts: I’ve been a fan of simpler workouts recently. While others might spend an hour to 90 minutes in the gym, going through a series of 10 different exercises, I just do 1-3 functional exercises, but with intensity. So I might do some sprint intervals, or a few rounds of pushups, pullups, and bodyweight squats. Or 400 meters of walking lunges. Let me tell you, that’s a simple but incredible workout. Another I like: five rounds 85-lb. squat thrusters (10 reps) alternated with pushups (10 reps). Today’s workout was three rounds of 15 burpees and 800-meter runs. No rest unless you need it. These are great workouts, but very simple, and very tough. I love them.
4. Sweets: I used to be a sugar addict. Now I still enjoy an occasional dessert, but in tiny portions, eaten very slowly. What I enjoy even more, though, is cold fruit. A chilled peach, some blueberries, a few strawberries, a plum: eat it one bite at a time, close your eyes with each bite, and enjoy to the fullest. So good.
5. Meals: While the trend these days is super-sized meals of greasy, fried things (more than two people need to eat actually), I have been enjoying smaller meals of simplicity. Just a few ingredients, fresh, whole, unprocessed, without chemicals or sauces. My meals usually include: a breakfast of steel-cut oats (cooked) with cinnamon, almonds, and berries; a lunch of yogurt, nuts, and fruit; a dinner of beans or tofu with quinoa and steamed veggies (or sauteed with garlic and olive oil). These simple meals are better because not only are they healthy, each ingredient can be tasted, its flavor fully enjoyed.
6. Reading: While the Internet is chock full of things to read, I’ve been enjoying the simplicity of a paper book, borrowed from the library or a friend (borrowing/sharing reduces natural resources consumed). When I read online, I read a single article at a time, using either the Readability or Clippable bookmarklet to remove distrations, and in full-screen mode in the Chrome browser (hit Cmd-Shift-F on the Mac version or F11 in Windows). It’s pure reading, no distractions, and lovely.