Sunday, March 5, 2017

Sam: It’s Cool to Be a Smart Girl

Sam came to the AAWL 3 years ago a smart, motivated German Shepherd looking for a new family. Rescued from the euthanasia list at the county shelter, we knew with the proper home she would flourish. She was the brand standard for German Shepherds: Perfect gait, astonishing coat, her personality and behavior fit the AKC definition exactly. A family fell for Sam, and took her home to begin her new life.sam_face_full_1.jpg

Unfortunately, Sam’s new family had challenges integrating such a high functioning, intelligent dog into their life. When Sam looked for a job to keep her mind driven and focused, she was given a toy absent-mindedly. When she looked for vigorous exercise to push her peak physical form, she would be casually walked a block or two. Sam grew frustrated, she had the potential for great things! Her frustration manifested in verbal exchanges with the neighbor dogs, causing issues for her owners. They fitted her with a shock collar, a tool that can cause physical and psychological damage. Her anxiety grew around dogs, since any positive or negative verbal greeting from her caused a painful shock. She tried to find new outlets, and began exploring her neighborhood while her owners were at work.

They felt overwhelmed, and Sam returned to our shelter after 3 years.

During our cursory initial exam, we found damage from the shock collar on her neck, and her reaction to other dogs was fractious; she had been punished for being smart and growing frustrated. We vowed to find her a new family that would embrace our clever girl.

Sam is looking for a job, whether that is agility courses, scent work, or puzzle solving. At 5 years old, her chances of becoming a professional working dog have passed, but when evaluated by a police K9 trainer, she aced every single test. She has the drive to want to please you, whether that is locating toys buried in a bin of blankets you thought had been lost forever (true story) or playing fetch with multiple balls and excelling. Her owner would benefit greatly by joining clubs that specialize in nose work, or other task based groups that challenge Sam’s constantly evolving intellect. If you think your fence is tall enough for Sam, it’s not. But a mentally occupied and physically satiated Sam will have less desire to escape and explore on her own, if she does it with you every day.

Sam has been given a second chance when she came to the shelter again; a chance to truly become the dog she was meant to be. We want to show the world it’s cool to be a smart girl.