Hamster Herding

From Lost Souls: FOUND! Inspiring Stories About German Shepherd Dogs.

Hamster Herding 

Hamster Herding

Jetta was relinquished when her owner was surprised by the fact that German Shepherds get “large” (80 pounds). She came into rescue and was un-adopted twice, which led me to raise an eyebrow. Nevertheless, I inquired and was told she was returned because of her “antics.”

Antics sounded manageable, so Jetta came to live with us. It turns out Jetta’s antics are unique but completely tolerable. Some may even go so far as to call them cute. She loves going for walks around the neighborhood, and if she decides that I am stopping too long to talk with neighbors, she takes the leash in her mouth to pull me along. She is particularly fond of plastic water bottles, but only if they have the tops screwed on. She carefully unscrews the top and then crunches the bottles—helpful for recycling! She also knows how to use her paw and snout to turn doorknobs and open doors. Once, when she was put in the bedroom while the pizza man delivered, she apparently tried to open the door but locked herself inside instead!

We call Jetta the “herdmaster” because she takes shepherding very seriously. One of her favorite “herdlings” was our hamster, Jessica, who escaped her cage on a regular basis. Jetta understood that nipping at a hamster’s heels wasn’t the proper herding technique, so instead, we would come home to find Jetta standing over Jessica after having licked her into a corner. Jessica was wet but unharmed. Jetta also tried herding one of my cats, who was terrified of her. It was classic miscommunication: the cat hid under the bed covers, meowed menacingly, and swatted at Jetta with her paw. Jetta was so thrilled the cat “liked” her so much that she promptly paid the cat even more attention.

Jetta’s antics sometimes get her into trouble, and when she knows I am mad at her, she stays out in the backyard until my son comes home. Jetta doesn’t spend much time in the yard anymore, though, because she hasn’t done much to upset me since we adopted a second German Shepherd. We thought Jetta needed someone other than the cat to play with, so we brought Tillie home one day. The two of them got along great at their first meet-and-greet, and Tillie jumped in the car before we had even completed her adoption paperwork. The one little thing the rescue forgot to tell us was that Tillie had a bad case of diarrhea! She pooped three times in the back of our station wagon before we got halfway home. Jetta assessed the situation quickly and jumped in the front seat with us, making sure we knew she was not the offender. What a day!

Jetta and Tillie have been together for four years now. Jetta is well-behaved, and as strange as it may seem, every time there is a “dog offense,” Tillie is the culprit. Or maybe Jetta has perfected her antics so much that she can just let Tillie execute them for her, leaving her without any blame… –Shirley Worthington