Thursday, October 18, 2012

Tails of a GSP

My very first dog and only dog ever is a German Shorthaired Pointer.  I had read quite a bit about different dog breeds and although I knew she would come packed with a bundle of energy, GSPs were on my list.  When I was looking through adds, I saw her litter and they were described as being handled A LOT by a family with 5 kids.  I wanted a fairly confident dog that would and could do everything with me.

I had recently graduated my undergraduate university and moved back to Oregon into my own little 835ish square foot place rented by my grandparents.  As much as I thought I would enjoy living on my own after spending years with female roommates, I was fairely board with myself and a little lonely.  I convinced my grandparents to allow me to get a dog if I promised to crate train her and didn't leave her loose in the house.  And so began my journey.

I went a couple hours away and checked the litter out and decided on a female and picked her up a couple weeks later.

A few things I learned VERY quickly with her, was how to attempt to manage the energy.  One of the best things I did for her was crate train her.  I have read that these dogs can be very destructive and by crating her when I was away, she never had that opportunity.  It was crucial that she got some sort of exercise every day and even then, I had to make sure I never got my head close to hers or she would pop me in the chin with her head because she wiggled so much.  Didn't faze her...but definitely hurt me!
For about the first year she could care less about treats, affection, or her meals.  I had to doctor her food up just so that she would get something in her.  She was so lean when she was younger someone once asked me if she was a rescue dog!! 

Since GSPs have so much energy, consistency was a MUST for her as well.  I had to stay on top of her 24/7, but she turned out great!  She would not have been a good dog to plop in the backyard and let her rot and expect her to do well when I wanted to do things with her.  GSPs are hunting dogs and have hound in their bloodlines.  Because of this, you have to know your dog and know how to set them up for success.  This was HUGE with Kindle.  She is not a dog I can let loose unless she is no where near traffic.  Her hunting instincts were strong from the start.  She would point at ants as a puppy, will convulse on a leash over squirrels and chipmunks, and is often hard to find in the forest when she is just standing stalk still staring.  It's a beautiful thing to watch, but also a difficulty I had to learn how to manage.  (Can you find her in the picture to the left?  She was rolling around not holding still as a puppy)

She has been the dog that does ALMOST everything with us She has gone to work with my husband occassionally and keeps up with the ATVs in the forest (he's a lineman for a power company). She loves to go mountain biking, backpacking, snowshoeing, she'll go kayaking, and just this year has finally started swimming.  We had to work on the swimming even though she has enormous webbed feet!  Check out how we worked on it:

When Kindle was 8 months old, I met Jeff.  She loved him from the start.  With adding another person to our lives, Jeff had to be trained at being consistent with her as well.  When I moved to Central Oregon the first time, Kindle and I moved in with some friends who had a lab.  She loves Skyla (In a picture above).  We then made a move with them to a new place before I found my own roommate and moved into another place.  Needless to say, she moved with me a lot.  Once Jeff and I were married, we moved to his house, and then moved to Keizer.  She is now at Black Butte with us while we wait on our house completion.  None of the places we have lived have had a yard for her.  This has forced us to find other ways to exercise her.  SHE LOVES HER TENNIS BALL!  The tennis ball is like her leash, if you have it, she stays right with you.  It's the best way to exercise her when we are short on time. 

I grew up with cats, although I always wanted a dog, so this owning a dog thing was very different and there were times that I missed having a cat.  I knew I would have to be really careful introducing a cat to Kindle (being a hunting dog) and wanted to do it while she was still fairly young.  I don't think I ever really convinced Jeff to get a cat, he found one at work trapped in a trailor, starving on one of their lots.  He is a sucker for animals too and she was so sweet that he brought her home.  It took a few months to feel comfortable leaving the cat and Kindle loose together, but they love each other.  The cat will rub against Kindle's legs and she lets the dog sniff her all up and down when she comes in from outside.

The true test to her versatility was when we rescued our most recent cat.  We tried to find a home for him, but ended up keeping him.  He has been a challenge all around and has been my most destructive animal yet (even more than the horses).  He is quite the little spitfire and is constantly racing around the house.  Pair that with a dog that loves to chase and run...we had some tough times...and they still aren't perfect.  Kindle has had many scratches across her nose, Jack (the cat) has probably had a few dozen heart attacks, but they are both surviving.  Jack will still, every once in a while hide and jump out at the dog.  Kindle didn't know what do do with herself... she would walk around constantly looking at the back of her legs expecting him to pounce.  As soon as he did, the chase was on and poor Kindle would get in trouble because her 52 lbs was going to dominate Jack's 10 lbs if it got out of hand. 

People always ask how long it took for her to "calm down"...well, I don't know if you can truly say she is "calm,"  but we saw a big change in her being able to manage her own focus between 2-3yrs.  She still gets excited when guests come over and will sniff all over them and race around the house, but it only lasts for one-two laps and she calms down and enjoys going calmly from person to person for a scratch.  She will lean all her weight on a leg, for a good rub down.  As she has gotten older, she loves it if you lay down and cuddle with her...she will groan and sigh as if it's the best thing in the world. :) 

She is a very loving dog, that when in public, acts aloof to strangers and other dogs (which I appreciate).  She has never been a big licker and as she's gotten older, does not appreciate dogs jumping all over her.  At 6.5yrs, she is hopefully not even 1/2 way through her life.  The perk to an active bigger dog is that their average life is 12-14yrs but I continually have people tell me theirs lived even longer.  One lady said one of hers lived till 17!!  She has won my husband over to the breed.  He grew up with labs and used to tease me that she wasn't a he can't imagine not having a GSP. 

In the past 6.5yrs she has been through 7 moves with me, getting married, adjusted to living with two very different cats, multiple serious family illnesses, my parents divorce, my masters program, and multiple different job schedules.  That's a pretty versatile dog and it all came down to her learning to travel well, consistency in expectations of her, exercise, and crate training. 

If you have any questions about the breed, let me know!

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