Owning German Shepherds is a funny thing. There is a certain degree of respect the breed commands, which probably begins with their size; the average German Shepherd weighs somewhere between 75 and 85 pounds. Their stature is strong and their features are defined, at times intimidating; they carry themselves with purpose. I’m certainly not the only person who has noticed that the breed closely resembles the wolf, which is probably why passersby cross to the other side of the road when they see our two Shepherds, Sienna and Garrett, barking at any person or pooch who dares to get too close to our home. But what these strangers fail to realize is that these particular Shepherds are not exactly representative of the breed.
You see, what nobody else knows is that our Shepherds act much more like little lap dogs than big, courageous guard dogs. Their favorite meal? No, it’s not steak. Their favorite fare du jour is actually Greek yogurt (yes, only Greek yogurt will do) and whole-wheat pancakes. And, unlike most dogs who will eat almost anything you put in front of their snouts, these Shepherds will always refuse carrots. Brussels sprouts, yes. Asparagus, okay. But carrots are a no-no. They insist that they absolutely must have a seat on the couch for movie night, and they snore way too loudly. Wake them up early and they’re as cranky as a teenager on the morning of the first day of school. And when the vacuum cleaner is turned on, these majestic beasts act like the world is coming to an end and quickly scurry to another room with their tails between their legs. Yes, our super-sized Shepherds are actually little prima donnas at heart.
So, you can imagine the surprise in my family when our two home-loving pups took themselves on a little adventure around our Hudson Valley town.
I remember the day well. I had just gotten out of the shower, adorned in a bright pink polka dot robe and purple towel hair-wrap, when the doorbell rang. Being a true New Yorker, I had absolutely no intention of answering the door. I thought that it was probably a salesman advertising for God knows what, or perhaps a Girl Scout hawking cookies. But the persistent doorbell rings and heavy knocks forced my hand, and although I realized that my post-shower getup didn’t command a lot of respect, I got ready to give the visitor a piece of my mind.
Much to my surprise, I wasn’t met with a cheery Girl Scout with a handful of Tagalongs, or a hesitant salesman in a cheap suit. Instead, there stood two strapping Monroe police officers who looked suspiciously like they had both just taken showers, too. No, they didn’t have towels wrapped around their crew-cut heads, but their black uniforms were decidedly damp. It was only then that it dawned on me that there were not two excited Shepherds at my feet, knocking me over to greet our visitors.
One of the officers pointed to the street, where not one, but two police cruisers were now parked. “Are these your dogs, Miss?” And there they were, my two Shepherds, soaking wet, their giant heads poking out of the car windows. I quickly switched from sassy New Yorker to giggling schoolgirl. “We received a call from a frantic woman saying there were two wolves swimming in her pool.” The second officer opened the door to the cruisers for an excited Garrett and a jubilant Sienna, who casually hopped out of their respective vehicles, strode past the officers, and pushed me aside. I may have been bright red and mortified, but Monroe’s finest couldn’t help but laugh at their perps.
“Good dogs you have here,” one of the officers said. “They got out of the pool as soon as we arrived and jumped right in the cruisers with us. They didn’t hurt anyone; I guess they just wanted to go for a dip.” I was suddenly no longer annoyed by the constant jingle of their ID tags hanging from their collars; they were the beacons that brought them home.
I thanked the officers and assured them this would never happen again. (We discovered later that they had escaped due to a faulty lock on the backyard gate.) As I stared at my two dripping Shepherds and the wet paw prints on the hardwood floor, I couldn’t help but smile. I guess I underestimated my two adventurous pups. And just as I began to imagine them using their new bravado to fight crime or other big-dog pursuits, my two wet pups took to their designated spots on the couch, closed their eyes, and waited for the evening’s movie night.