It has been a while since I last posted here; over two years. I was a little stunned by that the last time I looked at it, with that entry being one for the Lenten season in 2014. Much has happened in that time. When I wrote in March 2014, I was still stinging from a string of three horrendous losses. First, the loss of my husband in July 2012, then the unexpected, sudden need to euthanize my beloved 11 year-old hound-pit bull mix, Opie, in May 2013 and finally the not unexpected, but devastating decision to send almost 16 year-old Lab mix, Sandy, to Rainbow Bridge in December 2013. We had raised these two each from when they were small puppies. In just over 20 months, I had gone from having a high stress job in Fredericksburg, a wonderful (but progressively ill) husband and two loud, rambunctious canines, to being retired, widowed and existing alone in a big, cluttered, and terribly quiet house. “Stinging” doesn’t begin to describe it; “reeling” is more like it. More losses were coming, I just didn’t know it yet, and, as the saying goes, they usually come in threes. That was the case with mine.
I spent a great deal of time in 2014 traveling around, especially the early part of the year. I jumped into a lot of projects for the church, and for the presbytery. I spent a lot of time away from the house, away from all the projects, the cleaning out and the pain of getting rid of things that held such memories.
Around the beginning of May, I thought I was over the worst of my grief, and realized that the house was entirely too quiet. I started thinking about needing a companion - - one who would be by my side, who would love me unconditionally, who would cuddle with me, who would let me cry when I needed to, yet be entertaining enough to lift my spirits when I felt down; one who actually needed me as much or more than I needed him or her. I wanted someone to be happy when I came home! In short, I needed another dog!
I decided after having a lot of contact with the dog owned by my Crossfit trainers, that I needed a German Shepherd, and it needed to be from an eastern European bloodline. I wanted a puppy, figuring I had time to spend with one. I searched breeders, and found one in West Virginia that specialized in DDR (the former East Germany) bloodlines. Many of their pups had the black sable coloring - - which I love! I told the breeder the traits for which I was looking, that I wanted my new four-legged best friend and she told me she was preparing two of her females for breeding with her newest imported male from Germany. My name was put on a list, and the wait began. While waiting, it came to me that I should call her Liesl, commonly used in Germany, but which is originally from the Hebrew, Elisheba, and means “oath of God.”
The breeder and I communicated quite a bit over the next few weeks, and finally I got the word that the selected female was indeed in whelp. (Pregnant, for all of us who don’t know the correct terminology) Finally, on June 29, 2014, I got the word that the puppies were born - - seven males and three females, but one female had died. I was assured that one of the two would be mine. Approximately five weeks later, I received a photograph of the “crew”, with the one pup at the right end being the lone surviving female. I fell in love instantly.
(See her cropped image). Of all the pups in the photograph, she was the only one looking at the camera, and interacting with it! I knew she was my Liesl.
Of course, it was far too early to get her; she was too little to leave her mother. So, for five more weeks, I anxiously ticked off the days, waiting to get the word that I could come and pick her up.
On September 9th, after having been to the Lockn Music Festival in Arrington, Virginia, I went to Lexington and met with the breeder to get my girl. I had on a brand new Widespread Panic tee shirt. Finally, they arrived, took her little crate out of the truck, set on the ground and opened the little door. She ran out straight to me, stood on her hind legs, with her front paws on my knees. I picked her up. She showered my face with puppy kisses and the front of my brand new tee shirt with puppy pee! I didn’t care; she was mine and the tee shirt could be washed!
We were never apart for that first month. Wherever I went, so did she, except for worship services. About a week after I got her, I took her with me to Charlotte, NC, for the quarter- and semi-final matches for the first season of GRID. In the lobby during our trips in and out of the hotel for potty breaks, she introduced me to the New York Rhinos GRID team! She was great, except for crying and barking a little too much the first night while I was gone. She accompanied me to meetings, often laying in my lap (or someone else’s) and sleeping. I took her little lightweight travel crate and sometimes she would play in there, but mostly she wanted to be out where the people were, and in that first couple of months, introduced me to the majority of Warrenton! Our next door neighbor also has a German Shepherd, and the two of them are BFF’s now! Aside from 2 exceptions, she has never encountered a person or creature with whom she did not want to play! (one exception was the copperhead that bit her paw in 2015, and the other was the cable guy from a couple of months ago.)
From the beautiful, auspicious beginnings, though, she has been a handful! Her innate friendliness and exuberance has cost me a bit of money. German Shepherds love to chew on things. She is no exception. She has greatly assisted me in “evaluating” things in the house about which I was previously undecided to keep or toss. She has been a struggle to house-train, as she figured out early on how to escape her crates! She also has figured out how to get out of the gates at my neighbor’s fenced in yard!
I had to have a fence constructed to allow her to run and expend some of her energy, as she is far too strong for me to control any other way. Just as she had introduced me to many people in Warrenton, she has reintroduced me to my neighbors, as she will go on rounds to see them, if she manages to wriggle loose from me when exiting our gate! I am more a part of the neighborhood now, than I ever have been before!
For all her destructiveness, her boundless energy and her stubborn unwillingness to obey commands on the first utterance, she is a loving companion. She cuddles with me, lifts my spirits when I am feeling down, needs me and always greets me with a wagging tail and happy face! She has grown into being a gorgeous GSD. God saw that I was unhappy. He saw that I needed a companion, and he made Liesl for me. She is God’s oath to me - - with her, I will never be alone, never need a companion, never go without affection or being needed, never go without being loved!