The Hallmarks of a good Shepherd - Page 1

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by TIG on 10 April 2014 - 21:04

Two weeks ago I was at McDonalds using their Wi-Fi with Remy along in her role as my service dog. A family spotted Remy and came over to ask if they could pet her as they also had a German Shepherd Dog.  After being told free, Remy greeted them with typical GSD dignity and politeness. That is all except for their 8 year old boy who lay down on the floor with her to say hello. For him she rolled over,  played footsies and when the game slowed she would gently head or nose butt him to get him to play some more.

Now Remy was not raised with children. In fact her primary exposure to them was at the age of 10 weeks when she came here from Holland and spent 5 days back East with Brian and his 3 little girls. Yet since that time she has loved kids and just thought that they were the most special things in the world. I have always believed this to be one of the hallmarks of a good Shepherd. It is part of what Julia and I call “shepherdness” – the innate understanding that small things are to be taken care of and must be treated with gentleness.  Yes gentleness from my moose of a girl with the heart of a lion.  At a young age, she learned the command “make small” where she would lay down so toddlers and babies felt safe coming up to her. I never ever had to worry about Remy and how she acted in public. She was a great ambassador for our breed and for service dogs. For several years she also acted as a lobbyist for all dogs by being the public face to our legislators to show them what we would lose if PETA and HSUS succeed in eliminating our right to own companion and working dogs.

Many many things made Remy very special but I think the other very important characteristic she had was her clear headedness.  This is also one of the hallmarks of a good Shepherd but it is getting harder to find in our breed these days.  By this I mean the appropriateness for the situation –the ability to discern between the situation she was in and the tasks she was given and differentiate her behavior. For example, what the service dog world never knew or saw was the Remy we all knew as “the Reminator” – Remy SchH3, VPG3, IPO3, TD a German Shepherd who lived up to every inch of her KNPV heritage as a serious stable protection dog - serious except for her transports.  There she had her fun with a KNPV style transport doing a bark and hold backwards the entire way to the judge. Yah we lost lots of points but boy did the crowd love her. They loved her tracking too –free tracking & retrieving the article to me since she retrieved for me as a service dog. After giving me the article, she would go back head up to the spot she picked it up from and go back to work – a method she devised all on her own.  One old German guy was left nearly speechless watching her track. A special special girl and I’m proud to say we were a H.O.T. team.

Two months ago Remy was diagnosed with hemangiosarcoma.  Rem and I have been trying to hold on and enjoy each day given to us since then. Thanks to Don and Bart she once again got to do her voran and packit, the one thing she loved most of all in this world.  Because I used arm crutches and it took me a long time to get up the field in her halcyon days her bark and holds were always at least 85-90 barks or more without stopping and she meant every single one of them. Count next time you go to a trial an you’ll see how impressive that is.  But time ran out on us all too early and yesterday I had to say goodbye to her.

Vaya con Dios, Gaan met god, Rem.

There is a huge hole in my heart and an awful emptiness in the house.

I have so many friends to thank for help during Remy’s time with me. First and foremost to my friend, Julia Priest for the gift of this most wonderful dog, Remy. When I first saw her at 10 weeks bold and confidant, I fell in love and said I’ll take her anytime and you remembered.  And of course Brian who brought her from Holland. And to all the training friends who helped m in so many ways training and trialing her, thank you.  A special thanks to the helpers who brought such joy into her life – Joel, David, Zoli, Patrick, Don and Bart. Thank you also Deleta for taking such good care of her last year while I got new knees. I could not have done it otherwise and while it was hard being away from her for so long, you gave me the great gift of knowing that she was safe and very well taken care of. That truly was a blessing.

Hemangiosarcoma unfortunately is one of the most resistant to treatment of all k9 cancers. It also has a higher incidence in GSDs than in most other breeds. In addition there may be the possibility of at least a partial family connection though we do know that other factors also affect the frequency of it (early s/n raises the risk of it by 500%) The classic onset age is 7-9 years – far too young – so I was lucky in a way that it did not strike Remy until 11-still too soon, too soon. For all these reasons, when Remy had a splenectomy two months ago samples were taken and sent to the Univ of Minnesota Mondiano lab. They are partnered with a number of research labs in this country that are working on the problem of hemangio – looking for genetic markers if they exist, developing a blood test for early detection and trying to develop new more effective treatments. Both Remy and Nemo (as a senior normal) also donated blood to these research efforts.

Here are is a link to the Mondiano research lab    They are looking to work with both affected and older “normal” dogs and dogs related to affected dogs. Please consider helping this research and if you do tell them Remy sent you. You can contact Mitzi Lewellen at for information on how to participate or donate.

We always joked that Remy had no grace.  A big, tall, long bitch she never seemed to know who she was killing with her feet or her body. That is until I realized it wasn’t that she didn’t know where her feet where, she just didn't care. 

                   Grace may not have been her middle name but love and heart and fight surely were.

Remy 1/16/2003 – 4/9/2014, a very good Shepherd.


by Kalibeck on 10 April 2014 - 22:04

I am so sorry for your loss, but I also want to celebrate your Remy's life. She was that special girl for for you; I had one of those, too. I noticed that Remy had Fanto v Hirschel twice in her sires pedigree, my special girl did as well. I think a certain intelligence, humor, & that 'Shepherdness' that you described came in that DNA. My special girl adored children, & was tolerant & caring with them; yet she could discriminate between situations...& respond like a lioness. I never had the occasion to title her, but she had an innate knowledge of appropriate response to threat. I was delighted by your description of her bark & hold in reverse, as I have witnessed that very behavior in my untrained girl. And losing them leaves such a void..,,my girl died of cancer. She would have been 10 years old today. Happy Birthday Kali; Godspeed & RIP Remy....may you girls race the length of Heaven, but be there when we join you. 

Again, my condolences. jackie harris

by Nans gsd on 10 April 2014 - 23:04

OMG TIG:  I am so very sorry.  These service dogs leave us with such a hole  and emptiness in our lives.  RIP Remy, run free...painfree...Broken Heart


by bravo22 on 11 April 2014 - 00:04

Cheers to you, Remy!  What a special pup you were and how loved.  

I know, like so many here, this aching in your heart right now, TIG. Stay strong. You did well by her.


by starrchar on 11 April 2014 - 01:04

I am so sorry, TIG. Remy sounds like she was truly an incredible dog and a wonderful ambassador for the breed.  She was versatile, well balanced, multi- talented, smart, protective, clear headed, trust worthy and discerning, everything a good Shepherd should be and more. Most importantly she was your loving companion and service  dog. What a devastating loss this must be for you. My heart goes out to you. 

God speed beloved Remy ♥ 

by vk4gsd on 11 April 2014 - 01:04

can i suggest a nice pic be posted for those of us that did not have the pleasure of knowing her personally.


by Sunsilver on 11 April 2014 - 02:04

Tig, I am another one that believes what you have described is the temperament our dogs were MEANT to have! I choked up reading your tribute.

It must really bite that Nemo, your little dwarf with the big heart, is still alive at the age of...what...15?....and you had to say 'goodbye' to Remy at only 11. I am so sorry!

I, too, am doing IPO with my service dog, Star, and she's catching on fast.


Abby Normal

by Abby Normal on 11 April 2014 - 11:04

What a beautiful, beautiful tribute to a very special girl. I had my first experience of hemangiosarcoma last year with my girl, and your post reduced me to floods and floods of tears, it was a brave and beautiful eulogy. Hemangiosarcoma is such a wicked thief of time and the joy we felt we still had to come. My heart goes out to you at this time.

Safe travels Remy.....a very good shepherd. XX


by Sunsilver on 11 April 2014 - 13:04

Tig wrote: Now Remy was not raised with children. In fact her primary exposure to them was at the age of 10 weeks when she came here from Holland and spent 5 days back East with Brian and his 3 little girls. Yet since that time she has loved kids and just thought that they were the most special things in the world. I have always believed this to be one of the hallmarks of a good Shepherd. It is part of what Julia and I call “shepherdness” – the innate understanding that small things are to be taken care of and must be treated with gentleness


And Sunny wrote: The herding dog is meant to be a natural protector, both to the flock and to his master. That's why they are so good with kids. THAT'S WHY THEY MAKE GOOD MEDICAL SERVICE DOGS!!

There's a reason why we make jokes about 'TImmy in the well" (the old Lassie TV series.) The herding dog was EXPECTED to tell the shepherd if a sheep was in trouble. There's no difference between a dog with these instincts knowing when a sheep is sick and knowing when their human isn't well. An e-friend of mine has a Shiloh shepherd service dog, and when she goes to the doctor, she has to constantly keep her dog from alerting to ALL the sick humans in the office. "None of your business, Mali!" she tells her, and Mali actually seems to pout!  And when Sherri had to undergo a painful procedure, Mali broke her down-stay, put herself between Sherri and the nurse, and calmly but insistently pushed the nurse away from the exam table. I have NO doubt she'd also protect Sherri if someone meant intentional harm to her.

by Blitzen on 11 April 2014 - 15:04

So sorry for you loss. I hope you find another dog to take over for Remy. It's hard....I know.

Do  you still have your little guy?


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