Schutzhund is a competitive dog sport that started in Germany at the turn of the 20th century. It was designed to evaluate a dog’s mental stability, courage and protective instinct as well as the ability to scent, willingness to do his job, and the ability to be trained.
The events in Schutzhund (tracking, protection and obedience) were developed by Max von Stephanitz, the German breeder responsible for creating the German Shepherd Dog. By the time the GSD had been developed, the job the breed was originally bred to do – herding – was on the decline in Germany. The German Shepherd has always been a versatile dog capable of doing far more than just herding, and von Stephanitz developed Schutzhund as a sport to maintain the working ability of the breed.
The German Shepherd Dog Club refined the sport in the 1920s to continue the quality of the breed. Other guardian breeds also excel in this intense competition, although most can’t meet the intense training and challenges of Schutzhund.
During WWI, Lee Duncan was a U.S. army corporal stationed in France. On September 15, 1918, he was on patrol when he spotted a dog kennel heavily damaged from a recent bombing raid. Convincing his battalion to change course so they could check out the kennel, Duncan was surprised to discover five newborn puppies and their mom still alive. The pups and mother were rescued and taken back to camp, but only one puppy survived. We know him as Rin Tin Tin, a movie legend who showed the versatile, adaptable and loyal character of the German Shepherd dog.
The German Shepherd is a fairly new breed that was developed mostly during the 1900s. The breed originated in Germany as a top notch herding dog. German breeder Captain Max von Stephanitz wanted a herding dog that was capable and intelligent, with a good work ethic. In 1899, he mixed early versions of shepherd dogs to come up with the Deutsche Schaferhunde, the German Shepherd dog. Standard for the breed was written in 1901. The first dog in the United States was imported in 1907 and shown in the open class at Newcastle and Philadelphia dog shows.
The dog that von Stephanitz developed turned out to be not only smart and adaptable, but had many talents that were discovered during WWI. The Germans put the GSD to work as a war dog. Allied forces took notice of these versatile dogs used by the Germans, and were equally impressed with the breed. German Shepherds were used as Red Cross dogs, supply carriers, guard dogs, tracking dogs, sentinels and messengers. Read More »
Most cities have programs where civilians can spend a few hours riding shotgun with a police officer out on patrol. It’s a great way for ordinary citizens to get a behind-the-scenes look at law enforcement, whether for a future career or just to satisfy their curiosity. As a Journalism student in college, I was assigned to the “police beat” and took many such rides. For a young girl who’d never been in trouble with the law, these adventures were all quite fascinating, but one in particular was unforgettable. I was allowed to go on patrol with a K-9 cop and his four-legged partner, a German Shepherd named Samson. Decades later, I can still vividly recall this ride along.
It was a dark and stormy night. Just kidding! It was probably a night like any other for Officer Kaiser and Samson. As for me, I could feel the excitement in the air. I was ready for the “action” I hoped would ensue, because I wanted to write a story that would blow the socks off my Journalism teacher.
Prior to riding with Samson, I’d been forewarned by fellow officers that “the dog stunk to high heaven, paced back and forth all night, and barked at anything and everything.” Most of that was true, but I’ll get to that in a minute.
When I first saw Samson, he was inside the police car. Kaiser called Samson over, ordered him to “stay” and sauntered back to the car. I said something dumb like “Nice doggy” as I held my breath and waited for him to bite my leg. He didn’t bite, of course, and off we went on patrol. Samson rode in the back seat; a partition separated us, but this didn’t stop him from periodically sticking his furry face through a little window to lick mine.
We drove around for a long time, and just when I thought we’d never see any “action,” a call came over the radio about a fight at a liquor store. Kaiser spun the car around, flipped on the lights and accelerated. Samson went wild in the back seat, barking and pacing in a frenzy. When we arrived at the scene, three men were standing around a hippie sitting on a moped. Fighting? Not so much. I was disappointed.
Rin Tin Tin is probably the most recognized and famous German Shepherd dog of all time. In the 112 year history of the breed, his bloodline is the oldest continuous line and has remained relatively unchanged over the years. Had it not been for a corporal in the United States Army during WW I, Rin Tin Tin most likely would have perished in France.
Rin Tin Tin was just five days old when he and his four siblings were found in a bombed out dog kennel outside of Lorraine, France. It was September 15, 1918; Corporal Lee Duncan and his battalion were walking through the area when he noticed the damaged dog kennel and convinced the others they should check it out. They found five pups and their mom alive in the kennel. They had survived an aerial bomb drop. Duncan picked a male and female from the litter. The three other pups and mom, Betty, were taken back to camp by the other soldiers, but sadly none of them survived.
Duncan named his pups Rin Tin Tin and Nannette after small French puppets called Rintintin and Nenette that were given to the soldiers by French children for good luck. Corporal Duncan was impressed with how the German war dogs performed, so he started working with Rin Tin Tin and Nannette to train them to perform just like the dogs he had seen. The German Kennel Master in charge of the kennel where the dogs were found had been captured by the Americans. Duncan went to visit him in the prison camp so he could learn more about the German Shepherd breed and Betty and her pups.
After the war, Duncan made arrangements to have his pups sail home with him aboard a ship on a 15 day trip to New York. During the voyage, Nanette came down with distemper. By the time the ship sailed into New York harbor, she was very sick and died before he could get her proper care. Duncan went on to his home in Los Angeles with Rin Tin Tin, the only survivor from the bombed out kennel.
1928 movie ad
Rin Tin Tin began his movie career in 1922. While at an unsanctioned Shepherd Dog Club of America show, he wowed the crowd with his ability to jump a fence 11 feet 9 inches. A man named Charles Jones paid Duncan $350 to shoot Rin Tin Tin in action with a new moving picture camera and afterwards, Duncan decided to pursue a movie career for his dog. Duncan knew his dog was talented. Convincing Hollywood, however, turned out to be challenging.
Jacqueline Rennebohm was diagnosed with Cone-Rod Dystrophy, a degenerative eye disease, when she was nine years old. However, she hasn’t let a little thing like failing eyesight stop her from pursuing her dreams. I had a chance to speak with Jacqueline via Skype and I’m proud to introduce to you an energetic and positive young lady and her German Shepherd seeing eye dog, Dexter. They are the newest Special Achiever team sponsored by CANIDAE.
Jacqueline attends the University of Western Ontario in London, Ontario, majoring in environmental health. On top of her studies, she’s also a 100 and 200 meter sprinter in track and field, training to hopefully nab a spot on Team Canada and represent her country in London, England at the 2012 Paralympic games in September. A human guide runs beside her when she’s on the track and guides her. Dexter sits on the sidelines and roots her on. His job is to aid Jacqueline off the track.
Dexter received his training at Fidelco Guide Dog Foundation in Bloomfield, Connecticut, and Jacqueline was matched with him last August. His training began two years earlier at the age of eight weeks when he was placed with a volunteer foster family for a year and a half. He was socialized and taught basic skills. The next six to eight months was when he learned how to be a guide dog. Dexter’s training required two years, and Jacqueline had to learn the basics of working with Dexter in just two short weeks. Guide dogs can take some time to bond with their owner, but Dexter and Jacqueline hit it off right from the start. You can hear the love and respect she has for Dexter when she talks about him.
Jacqueline has been feeding Dexter CANIDAE All Life Stages and has been impressed with the results. “The food works for him so well. He has the right amount of energy and his coat is so soft. We were at a function last night and there were other guide dogs there, all German Shepherds, and a couple of the owners asked, ‘What are you giving your dog? His coat is so soft.’ They are all blind, and they’re feeling the dogs and they started to notice the difference; they could tell Dexter’s coat was the nicest. It is, and I’m spreading the news about CANIDAE because he’s so chipper and looks really healthy and lean. I can truly say he’s being fueled properly and is able to keep up with my pace with ease, so he’s on the right food, for sure.”
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