Dec 272018

Terry and I had a heartbreak recently, but we learned a bitter lesson from it at the same time. I’m just now feeling comfortable enough to write about it.

As I’ve said here many times, I’m not a fan of yappy little dogs. I’ve also said that I love German shepherds. I’ve had several them in my life, and for my money there is not a more beautiful, intelligent, loyal, or courageous dog in the world.
Something else I have said was that we didn’t want to have another animal because we’ve gotten to the point in our lives where we are too selfish to have that kind of responsibility, and also because it hurts too much to lose them. And that’s something that every pet owner has to face sooner or later.

However, I guess you should never say never. A while back I happened to find somebody online that was looking for a new home for a beautiful seven month old purebred German shepherd named Nala. I talked to her and she said that the dog was very well behaved and very affectionate, but since she is a single lady working 10 hours a day, she wanted to find Nala a home where she would have some company and not be alone so much of the time. With nothing better to do, Terry and I drove down to Clermont to meet the lady, whose name is Sunita, and Nala. That was a mistake.

As I’ve said, I’ve had several German shepherds over the years, and while I loved them all, one in particular stole my heart years ago. Her name was Sugar, and I’ve never had a more incredible dog. And Nala seemed like she was Sugar reincarnated. The minute we walked in the door she was all over me and I was all over her. It was love at first sight.

We brought her home and were impressed that on the 90 mile drive back to our place she rode very well and didn’t create any kind of a fuss. Once we got home, we showed her around and she seemed to fit right in. And boy, was she smart!

She didn’t have a whole lot of obedience training, but German shepherds seem to have a natural need to please you, and Nala exhibited that all the way. When we sat down to eat, she came to the table. I took her out of the kitchen, made her lay down in the doorway between the hall and the kitchen, and told her to stay. I returned to my chair, and by the time I sat down she was right back there with me. I took her back to the doorway again, repeated the stay command, and that was it. She got the message and laid down. The next morning when we sat down to have breakfast, Nala laid in the doorway right where she was supposed to without being told.

She was a very calm, well-mannered dog. I took her for several walks and she ignored other dogs and even a raccoon that crossed our path. She perked up her ears, but there was no lunging, no barking, she behaved perfectly. She did do a double take when we ran into a pair of our resident Sandhill cranes. They have been around people so much that they have little fear; they will walk directly in your path and it’s your job to wait for them to get out of the way. When we encountered them, one of looked at Nala and squawked. The poor girl did a double take, backing up a step or two and looking at me as if to ask, “what the hell is that big thing?”

I knew that our little private community has restrictions on dogs, and new dogs have to be approved by management. I had already told them we were going to look at her ahead of time. No problem, the managers are great people and we get along very well. I took Nala up to the office and everybody immediately fell in love with her, because she’s just that kind of an animal. The manager fussed over her and thought she was great and congratulated me on what a wonderful addition to our family we had made. Everything looked fine. As it turned out, it wasn’t fine.

The next day I got the bad news. Insurance rules, will not allow any of the “10 dangerous breeds” on the property except for certified service animals. Did you even know that there is a list of dangerous breeds? They include Dobermans, German shepherds, pit bulls, Akitas, and other dogs that have a reputation for aggressiveness. It doesn’t matter that there are ten million dogs out there of those different breeds that have never bothered anybody, somebody decided that they were dangerous so that’s the end of story.

I talked to our insurance agent, wondering if I could get some kind of policy that would protect the interests of the community, but nope, no go. If the dog was a certified service dog, that would be a different story. Otherwise the costs are prohibitive, if they will insure the animal at all. Insurance companies are well aware of all the scams and the people running around with animals with service dog vests that they bought off the Internet. To qualify for restricted breeds, insurance companies demand proof that they have passed an accredited service animal training program for whatever service they are performing. That costs many thousands of dollars. I came to realize that it just wasn’t meant to be.

With tears in our eyes, we contacted Sunita and said we had to bring Nala back the next day. It was a long, sad drive back to Clermont, I’ll tell you that. The good news is, Sunita was delighted to have Nala back. It was obvious she regretted letting her go in the first place. So, Nala is back at home where she belongs, and we’re here where we belong.

And while we were heartbroken, I think we both learned something. Whether you have an animal you love for just a day or two, or for ten years or whatever, it breaks your heart to lose it. It’s a special kind of pain that I’m not willing to go through again. No more pets for me.

It’s Thursday, so it’s time for a new Free Drawing. This week’s prize is a USB drive loaded with all of the digital back issues of the Gypsy Journal for the years 2003 through 2017. They are in PDF format and will provide you with weeks of great reading about places to visit from coast to coast and our adventures as fulltime RVers. The normal cost of the back issue collection is $75. To enter, all you have to do is click on this Free Drawing link or the tab at the top of this page and enter your name (first and last) in the comments section at the bottom of that page (not this one). Only one entry per person per drawing please, and you must enter with your real name. To prevent spam or multiple entries, the names of cartoon or movie characters are not allowed. The winner will be drawn Sunday evening.

Thought For The Day – Stop blaming the holidays. You were fat in August, too.

Nick Russell

World-Famous, New York Times Best Selling Author, and All-Around Nice Guy!

  10 Responses to “Heartbreak And A Bitter Lesson”

  1. So sorry it didn’t work out with you and Nala. She is a very beautiful dog. I don’t know who came up with the list of “aggressive breeds” but many of those on the list are NOT the “most likely to bite” as a little bit of research will show. The problem is that a Doberman who bites is much more of a problem than a Chihuahua who bites. Not casting stones. . . I owned a Doberman who was a retired police dog, both sight and voice command. The dogs who show the most aggression in our park are little lap-type “yappers.” But I will always maintain that it isn’t the dog’s fault. . . it’s an owner who doesn’t understand “dog language.” It’s a shame that the insurance company has labeled these breeds, as there are so many of those dogs who are worthy family friendly animals. Seems like a good alternative would be to have an evaluation by a trainer to determine if the dog is a threat. And that would be ANY dog, not just their list of dangerous animals.

  2. I had a German Shepard, too, Nick, when I was young and he was very aggressive: very aggressive LOVEABLE, that is, and no one could escape his hold on their heart. My heart aches for you over the loss of Nala.

  3. “With nothing better to do”….famous last words!
    I’m sorry it didn’t work out for you, a pet can be a huge plus in your life.

  4. My cousins had a German Shepard growing up and he was gentle and sweet. I’ve never been much of a dog person but he was a cool dog. Sorry it didn’t work out.

  5. We ran into the same situation with our Rottweiler, Honey. She is the sweetest dog in the world and loves everybody she meets. But our HOA does not allow “aggressive breeds” so we had to find a new home for her when we bought our place. She now lives with my son and his family and we get to visit her anytime we want.

  6. I’m sorry you didn’t get to keep the dog, Nick. As heartbreaking as that is, something to consider is that in your mid-60s just like us. Do you want to be walking and cleaning up after a big dog for the next 10 to 14 years? It’s a responsibility I have decided not to take on at my age. I’d rather be free to jump in the car and take off for as week or two on a whim or take a cruise or just stay inside where it’s warm and dry on nasty winter days.

  7. You know our love of Shepherds. Miss Shade is our fifth. We have only encountered one RV park not allowing a GSD. We always ask.
    Stay connected to the GSD Facebook page and enjoy this breed vicariously. (((HUGS)))

  8. We’ve been through similar pain. It’s why we’ll probably never have another dog again. German Shepherds have a special way of breaking your heart. I look at pictures of them on Pinterest all the time.

  9. My doberman shepherd (half each: German shepherd size/shape, black doberman coloring) was so smart and good-natured, 80 pounds of snuggledog. (“Are you my big scary girl? Oh, yes you are!” *presents her tummy to be rubbed*) She had a good, long life, and I still miss her. You and Miss Terry dodged the eventual sadness bullet, but they sure are worth it.

  10. Sure do understand how you feel about pets…doubt we will ever have a dog again even though we are very fond of Blue Heelers, etc…just oh so hard to loose them.
    So sorry it was the insurance company that stopped your keeping her!

 Leave a Reply

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>



Notify me of followup comments via e-mail. You can also subscribe without commenting.