In 2005 Ward and I decided to adopt a dog after my 11-year-old dog, Bela, died. I
thought I would never want another dog and if I did it wouldn’t be just two months after my best pal ever died.
Ward was skeptical, “I think this is grief talking”.
“Yeah, it is grief talking, Captain Obvious” I said, “I’m a mess I need to find someone in worse shape than me”.
We went to meet him. Life had not been kind to him. He was under-weight by fifteen pounds. He slunk more than he walked. No eye contact. It was clear he had been hit by the way he ducked down when we would pet him or walk into the same room as him. He didn’t know words like “eat,” “treat,” “out,” “walk,” “toy”. He ate as if every meal were his last meal.
He had no name because he had been found tied to a tree. It was undoubtedly the kindest thing his previous owners had ever done for him. He was clearly a bigger mess than me.
On the way home from the shelter with him in the back seat eyeing us warily we argued about what to name him.
“I think Sherman is a great name for him” Ward said.
“Ugh. No. If we go that route I might be convinced to name him Grant” I said, “What about Sasha?”
We ended up naming him Walt because we love Walt Whitman.
Walt was not just a big mess he was fucking crazy. He was terrified of women and attacked me several times. He went through three windows and three trainers. The last one did the trick helping us make Walt into a dog. This is her website: Gooddogz Training
After he started getting better he was Ward’s dog more than mine which was Ok by me. He couldn’t be around other dogs without attacking most of them. After a few years I sensed he wanted a friend. I started profiling what dogs he did better with. I came up with his type: female, older and small.
I started trolling again. I found Coco after a few weeks. She was an eight-year-old mini dachshund. I was relieved we wouldn’t have to change her name. She had been
brought in with 15 other pure bred dogs. The shelter thought it might have been an informal puppy mill. That seemed likely after we discovered Coco had never been on a walk preferring to pee and poop in doors and eating it all.
The shelter recommended we bring Walt when we met Coco to see if it was a go. All the dogs in the shelter were in kennels except for Coco who had a bed behind the reception desk. If we changed her name they suggested “Princess” would be a good one.
They hit it off famously. Walt now had a dog.
Somewhere around year four Walt became my dog. He followed me everywhere. He would place his head in my lap. He gave me kisses on my hand. He was happy to see me when I came home.
Then Thorin came along and I lost him. He started out sleeping by his crib and now the rug in his room. When Thorin has an asthma attack during the night Walt puts his head on Thorin’s lap while he uses the nebulizer.
Walt has been wacked in the head, hit with a bat, had a playhouse dropped on him, had food and beverages spilled on him and his tailed pulled more times than I can count. Each time Walt walked away. No anger. No fear. Maybe he knew a little boy before. He loved Thorin now.
I misplaced Thorin briefly. Walt was on the job though. You can read about that here if you’d like: What’s that Lassie…
Today Walt is grey in the face and has arthritis in his back but his heart is strong. At 15ish the Vet calls him a freak of nature. He is old for a German shepherd.
We have seen Walt go from being a depressed, frightened and frightening dog to being
a sweet, funny, loving one. Today is the 10th anniversary of bringing home the former Shultzy and now Walt-the-dog.
We love you Walt!
P.S. Thorin wants to know if we will be having cake.
I said ‘No’ to cake. I know that makes me a jerk but Walt can’t eat it and Thorin comes up with a reason for cake about once a week.
You and your entire family rock (including Walt & Coco) — more cake for everyone!
Gives new meaning to “Let them eat cake”.There are a good bunch.
Did you know that Walt Whitman was born on the 31st of May when you decided to call your dog after him? I’d never heard the name before I saw it mentioned on your blog (forgive me : I am French) but I get quotes of the day from a site called Goodreads, and today it was dude’s day : “I sound my barbaric yawp over the rooftops of the world”. It is mentioned that Whitman only sold 10 copies of the first edition of Leaves of grass. Serendipitous or what? So in honour of Walt, who is named after an American poet, I’ve ordered a copy of Leaves of grass, as a testament to your love, devotion and perseverance in the presence of what most people would have called a lost cause. Pawsome!
No I did not know it was his birthday today! I love that. Here is one of my favorites from Leaves of Grass and it applies to my son and all humans: “I exist as I am, that is enough…”
If I could only have one book it would be Leaves of Grass.
So sad how puny some people’s causes are.
I don’t want to judge. I was deeply touched by your story today because I know personally I would not have kept a dog who showed aggression towards me. After i lost a beloved Westie in tragic circumstances (she was hit by a car and died in my arms) Sharif asked for a Beagle. Not that he could say Beagle but whilst watching an American movie he pointed to the screen and said “I want this dog”. and so Shadow came to live with us. she was an gorgeous-looking puppy, but whereas I had my previous dog toilet-trained in a matter of hours, Shadow did not believe in peeing outside, and as far as other commands were concerned she was not interested. When we went for walks, her highly developed olfactory senses would lead her in one direction, which was usually not the one Sharif wanted to follow. She’d be pulling one way and he the other. Eventually one of them would break loose, or she would run around him and cause him to fall. and then he’d refuse to walk any further. It all became quite stressful, and after about 18 months i decided unilaterally to find a more suitable environment for her and she was adopted by a local farmer. i told Sharif Shadow had been very naughty and had run away. By which time he had a girlfriend so he was a little saddened but not unconsolable. All this to say, if the dog had been aggressive, no way would she have stayed eighteen months. I am genuinely full of admiration for the way you turned Walt’s life around and persevered and even tried 3 different dog trainers. I did take Shadow to puppy classes but I learnt more there than she ever did!
you didn’t judge i did:( Sorry about that. If we had a kid then I couldn’t have done it. It would have been impossible. I really needed a project and Walt fit the bill. I got as much as Walt did out of the deal:) No need for admiration.