Shadow-dog, holding down the fort


Shadow, demonstrating how to make the back yard of the rectory look tiny. The tiles temporarily making up the base of the Marian shrine, are one foot square.

Good points:

  • Providence provided under incredible circumstances, no cost to me
  • (reportedly, we’ll see, with papers) pure-bred German Shepherd
  • Pure black, not a spot of white or tan anywhere, not chest, not feet
  • Straight back, as usual for the all-black variety
  • Double-coat, laughing at what never counts as really “cold” weather in WNC
  • Almost four feet from nose to rump plus another 19 inches for the tail
  • Edging toward 27 inches tall
  • At this extraordinarily massive size, even for a GSD, jaw strength competes with the strongest in the world, the Rottweiler
  • Not neutered, super-friendly, gentle, knows who boss, but totally doesn’t know his own strength, or does
  • Can put his front paws on your shoulders as you stand straight up


  • At 12 1/2 months old, had total control of his owners all of his short life (I saw this up-close)
  • Not trained in any way at all, except possibly, to be disobedient (jaw dropping)
  • Never fed any kind of normal diet, hanging out at the high school cafeteria, so, possibly, the absolutely worst diet a GSD could have ever (that’s just upsetting)


  • Can he break a training bite-arm in one bite?
  • Can he learn how to learn, even though the talent has been suppressed by the previous owners?


  • Even if he is untrainable (I doubt that), his perpetual presence at all the vulnerable parts of the rectory is already an invaluable asset and most appreciated



  • Laudie-dog, in her house, utterly dwarfed by “Shadow”
  • A bit of turf wars were at foot during the first day, but now they are friends
  • I was really happy to see little Laudie-dog hold her ground with no fear at all, tolerating no hanky-panky, she being fixed, but not he, but she setting proper boundaries immediately, he now behaving as a gentleman, er, gentledog

Tips for training such a smart dog:

  • I have no idea. Have you?


Filed under Dogs

20 responses to “Shadow-dog, holding down the fort

  1. Nancyv

    German shepherds have a God given sense of loyalty & protection. SHADOW being 4, i would ask your LEO friends for leads on the best trainer you can afford and make the worthy investment. I admire GS, especially the black. They are so stately and handsome.
    My daughter has a black, named Patton.
    Best to you and the dogs.

    • Father George David Byers

      Actually, there is a breeder-trainer of GSs in the parish. Her dogs are taken by LEOs all over the country. But that sounds like a big ask. I suppose I shouldn’t try? He does seem to be a really fast learner.

  2. Nancyv

    Uh, just re-read and don’t know why i thought he was 4 yo. Still, i would look for a professional trainer.

  3. Michelle Russell

    We’ve had many GSDs. My husband’s family had top-rated show dogs and a search-and-rescue dog as well. You’ll probably want to have him neutered (that is your call, of course). First you have to be alpha (leader), second he needs a job or he will make one for himself. Many people get a GSD and then cannot handle them because they forget those first two rules. The Monks of New Skete have a good book you might want to get. If you need more suggestions, I can look through our dog-training books and let you know the best ones. Congratulation and good luck!

  4. If he’s not fixed, will he not roam? There’s a possibility he will get hit by a car, shot, etc if he roams.

    We had a German Shepherd/ Collie X when we were growing up in a rural area. Tremendous energy. Was always ready to play with us…baseball, softball, etc. Shadow looks like he has tremendous energy that will need to be used up in a good way.

    He is beautiful…almost as beautiful as Laudie-Dog. Thanks for posting the pics.

  5. Looking at the height of the fence in the photo…and the size of Shadow, I really don’t think so. Especially when there’s a female dog in heat around. …

    You should really talk to the dog trainer in your parish for advice. ….to neuter or not to neuter.

  6. sanfelipe007

    Wow, what an animal! He’s prolly closer to Ursus than Canis.

  7. elizdelphi

    Nice trot, once he’s broke to ride I see dressage potential.

  8. Shadow looks like a good shepherd, and one that can use both ends of the shepherd staff: both herd and prod or guard.

  9. For training, smart dogs like to be given tasks. They like the challenge. Sit, stay, heel, come are the basics, but not nearly enough for such an intelligent breed. American Kennel Club might offer obedience classes. For most people that have a well trained dog, that dog is a constant companion: which means letting Shadow travel in your Subaru. For diet, don’t forget that much human food is poisonous to dogs. Someone recommended the Monks of New Skeet’s book, I agree with that also.

  10. Charlene

    Congratulations on your new fur baby, Fr. George! Shadow-dog is gorgeous! I hope he knows who is boss there – it’s Laudie-dog and good for her for not backing down. It is her turf he is on and he’d better behave. I suggest neutering for Shadow. It will make him more gentle also. I’m sure he will scare the heck out of any would-be robbers and others who creep around the rectory! What a great gift!

  11. elizdelphi

    Careful about the “I love my German Shepherd” bumper stickers, as they now may be viewed as code for rejecting Francis’ papacy.

  12. C. Twigg

    “Actually, there is a breeder-trainer of GSs in the parish. Her dogs are taken by LEOs all over the country. But that sounds like a big ask. I suppose I shouldn’t try? He does seem to be a really fast learner.”
    YES! Absolutely ask, she may consider this her contribution to you and God. If you have never had a GSD before YOU need the training. These dogs can very quickly get the best of you. (I have had several, and have done agility, herding, schutzhund and obedience at various times with various dogs, all to keep them attuned to me, and out of trouble.)

  13. First of all, Shadow is amazing and so is Laudie Dog. My mother loves reading your blog and she often sends me your posts. It’s always a joy to read and I hope you take this in the spirit it’s meant but… the expression is “Hold the fort”. I hope you all enjoy the video

  14. pelerin

    James Frost – I enjoyed the video! I’ve not heard of this chap before. Yes some Americanisms do baffle particularly the one ‘I could care less’ which to our British ears sounds so illogical. Following some of the American Catholic blogs has made me aware of how our two languages differ. We are definitely divided by a common language!

  15. We don’t really pay enough heed to the differences between US english and UK English do we? Let alone Australian English.

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