I had never heard of German Pinschers until they came up as a potential match in one of those “What Breed Best Fits Your Lifestyle” quizzes that I had been taking as I looked for an apartment dog before I had Shasta. But as I began to do research I discovered that German Pinschers had many of the same traits that I liked about pitbulls (smart, short-coat, athletic, medium-sized) and it was far easier to get home owners insurance with a German Pinscher. (Although, props to Nationwide for being the only insurance company out of 6 that I called who allowed pitbull ownership as long as you passed the Canine Good Citizen Test.)
However, I joke about the fact I think I mixed up the descriptions for Doberman Pinschers and German Pinschers. The temperament of Doberman Pinschers was something like “Smart, Athletic, Loyal, and Obedient” whereas German Pinschers were described as “Smart, Athletic, Loyal, and Spirited.” That one word really does describe the difference between what I thought I was getting into and my little Ayla.
German Pinschers are very smart and very food motivated. They are a dog that does well when given a job to perform and they have the intelligence that makes them quick learners. However, they aren’t necessarily a breed that is eager to please unless it benefits themselves. My girl is a stubborn ass, but as the first friendly dog I have ever had in my life, I can work with that because I, too, am a stubborn ass when it comes to expected behavior and unfortunately for Ayla, I have had mostly aggressive asses before her, so I am no push-over.
Owning Ayla has certainly been an adventure – I have no regrets, but I definitely underestimated the nature of a German Pinscher. She is very high energy and even three miles worth of walks a day is not enough to wear her out; we also do playtime, tricks for treats, and obedience work. I have taken her hiking on an 85 degree day with 60% humidity for 5.5 miles and right after her one-hour car nap home, she looked at me expectantly like, “Well I’m rested. Let’s go for another walk!” She will make a stellar agility dog someday. But for now, I just look forward to surviving the puppy stage. I still don’t trust her upstairs where there’s carpeting, because I’m pretty sure she’d chew it. This is why my ground-floor level is a barren wasteland of dog toys and two door mats.
Ayla puts absolutely everything in her mouth, and is very reluctant to drop anything. Typically, this results in me prying her jaw apart and shaking her nose until whatever rock/acorn/mulch-chip/bit of garbage falls out, sometimes while I am in the middle of a conversation with a neighbor.
We had a brief stint of cicadas this summer and I was talking to a neighbor on how much my puppy loved eating them (shells, dead cicadas, live cicadas…even ant-filled dead cicada carcasses.) My neighbor commented that she hadn’t seen any cicadas on the sidewalks. I laughed, “Yes, that’s because we walk the sidewalks multiple times a day. Ayla is keeping them spotless.” But insect protein aside, Ayla loves vegetables more than any dog I have ever known. Probably because I mislead her when she was a pup and convinced her that lettuce was “hip human food,” which I then used to my advantage by hooking her up outside with half a head of lettuce to keep her busy.
This also works out because my HOA prohibits composing by individual units, so I feel a lot less guilty no longer having to toss vegetable waste in the garbage. Mushy tomato? Give it to the dog. Ends of the cucumber? Dog thinks I’m the best. Zucchini too old and dry? Cut it up for dog treats. Select blueberries looking a bit smushed? Rewards for obedience. Watermelon fallen on the floor? Dog is on it!
This also, unfortunately, translates to her attempting to eat random vegetation while on walks, because “it’s all lettuce, right?” She eventually grew out of that, even though she still enjoys my heuracha’s out back and particularly seems to love the grass clods that are spit out by lawn mowers.