“It can’t be this hard! I’m not buying a baby, I’m buying a dog!” I declared to my mum.
“Don’t stress about it, you’ll get one.” She assured me.
I wanted a German Shepherd Dog (GSD) and I wanted him now.
My search began one April on Trading Post, and I thought it would be as simple as finding a pup, handing over the money and taking him home, but it wasn’t. It started off well: the pups on Trading Post were affordable for my brother and I as we would each be paying half, but at this price, they often didn’t come with registered papers declaring them purebred. We contacted and visited two families – both owners affirming their shepherds were purebred, but we weren’t convinced. So, my parents were happy to pay a third cut and we upped our price to $1,800, and I began my search into professional breeders. Surely, my luck would change.
Professional breeders tended to live an hour or more away and usually on acres. Most had websites because they had “kennels” - it was a business essentially. They owned anywhere between five and ten shepherds, sometimes more. Their GSD, unlike those on Trading Post, had traditional German names – a lot of Vons. Their dogs were their business, and they were “dance Mums”, constantly pushing for the shepherd to win awards and breed show line or working line pups that would only go those who had proved their worth, just as the dog had. So, I sent my first inquiry...
Send to: email@example.com*
Subject: German Shepherd Litter
Hi, I'm inquiring about the expected Christmas litter and what availability there is. Is there a waiting list?
Reply to: firstname.lastname@example.org*
Subject: German Shepherd Litter
Hi, thank you for your inquiry…
Steps to successfully owning your own GSD:
2. Fill out Application
3. Brief phone chat/interview
4. If both parties are happy, a 10% deposit is required to secure your spot.
This was absurd. I wasn’t applying for a job, I wanted a dog.
The months flew by. It was August now, and I had sent countless emails and made endless phone calls to more breeders. I came across another who asked for a “puppy enquiry form” to be filled out, so I gave in and did it. This breeder declined me because I was an “in-experienced owner”. I was becoming disheartened. I wasn’t good enough for them; I wasn’t worthy. Sadly, a lot of the time I was the one knocking them back because they were incredibly expensive, pricing their pups between $2,000 and $4,000.
“Hi, I’m enquiring about the German Shepherd pups you’re selling.”
“Oh, okay.” The woman’s tone was as though a child called and wanted to know why the sky is blue. I was wasting her time.
“I’m just wondering how much they are?”
“I’m selling them for $3,000.”
Well, the sky is blue because it just is.
“Oh, that’s much more than I am looking to pay.”
“It’s because we had the sperm imported,” she said.
...wait, what? I wanted to ask if I heard the word ‘sperm’ correctly, but I was too shocked to confirm.
“Okay, thank you, bye.” I hung up.
Moving on from that phone call, I wasn’t going to give up. I stumbled upon a breeder who had the most beautiful, big, fluffy, black and tan shepherds. I didn’t care about the prizes or the names. I didn’t care who the Grandparents of the pups were or if they were imported. I just wanted my own GSD that I could love, and I hoped to own one of their's. So, I called them. I knew it, this was it.
“How much are you selling yours for?” my fingers were crossed. I was biting my lip nervously. I was sitting half off my chair, ready to run to my mum and shout like Janine Melnitz from Ghostbusters, “we got one!”
“$2,300 – the male’s sperm was frozen,” she said.
My dreams were shattered. I said goodbye and wanted to hide under the covers and cry. I was sure I would never own a GSD and my life would feel incomplete forever - okay, a bit dramatic, I know, but my search began in April and it was now mid-November.
But then, I made the phone call that would change my life...
The breeder was unlike the others I had spoken to. He spoke to me like the adult I was. He hadn’t even met me yet, and already he gave me advice, he understood my problem with the other breeders, and invited my family and I to visit, and most excitingly, his pups were at our price of $1,800 and he didn’t live too far – just a little over an hour away. So, we traveled on a Sunday three times – first to see the parent shepherds before the pups were born; second to pick the one we liked, and third to take him home. But the universe tried to stop me again from getting my puppy...
We arrived with excitement the second time to pick a pup from the litter.
“So, you wanted a female, yes,” the breeder confirmed.
I wanted to pretend like I didn’t hear that. “No, a male.”
“Are you sure?” He asked.
“Definitely. It says on the deposit receipt you gave me, ‘male’.”
He took a moment to think. I took a moment to feel my face get hot and my throat start to ache from wanting to cry.
He and his wife deliberated the situation. Finally, he found a solution that somehow left me to choose between two males. A chubby, fluffy one who was well behaved, and a small, skinny one that wouldn't stop crying and walking around our feet.
Which one though? They were both beautiful and cuddly, and either one would be my prized possession of endless research, phone calls and emails. But it was to be the skinny one that cried and fidgeted in my arms. I loved him straight away. He was curious about everything around him. The “runt of the litter” my mum called him.
A week later it was time to pick him up to take him home.
When we were in the car I said to my mum: “quick, let’s go before they change their mind!”
Logan is no longer the smallest or the skinniest - he weighs over 45kg, but he still remains the odd ball, with his cheeky and curious personality and of course, the floppy ear.
*email addresses changed for privacy/security