Thursday, 21 February 2013

My German Shepherd Carer

When I moved out of my parents house in 2010, it was a time to celebrate, because I was finally well enough to move on and live in my own place with my boyfriend, but it was also an extremely sad day because I had to leave behind my companion, my carer and often my reason for getting out of bed for the past 5 years, the family German Shepherd dog called Masti.

I would go and visit him (and the rest of the family) quite often as they only live a few towns west from where I am in London.  But as I became more and more ill, travelling on trains became more difficult.  As I write this, it has been almost 3 months since I visited and I miss my family and especially Masti so much.
Masti at a few months old when his ears had straightened out

Jack was so gentle and always ready to join in
Before Masti, we had a German Shepherd called Jack.  My sisters and I grew up with him, and he was the best companion four little girls could ever want.  When he died in 1999, it was the single most painful thing I had ever experienced in my life.  We talked about getting another dog several times, after that, but we were all grown up, not all living at home and with me becoming ill and everyone busy with work, we always decided it was not a good idea.    Still, we missed Jack; even now, when he has been gone longer than he was in my life, I think of him every single day.  Once you have known the love and companionship of a dog, especially a German Shepherd, it is awful to live without one in your life.

In 2005, I was away for 4 months getting treatment.  While I was away, my family bought a little German Shepherd puppy that another family no longer wanted.  When I heard this I was not happy as I could not imagine the added stress of a dog in the house when I got back and also, I still missed Jack too much and I did feel the way my family was raving about the new dog was a betrayal of our beloved Jack.

Masti just before his 2nd birthday
Things only got worse when I met Masti.  He was so naughty!  In fact my sister had named him Masti which means 'fun' or 'mischief' in Hindi to suit his personality.  The fact that the whole family had spoiled him rotten did not help either.  Jack had been an obedient and well-trained dog - Masti was anything but.  Those first few weeks with Masti made me miss Jack so much more.

Of course my family did not help - they would all head to work and leave me alone at home with an untrained, unruly puppy and with the puppy messes.  I wasn't always well enough to get up and get myself to the bathroom, let alone to train the dog or to clean up his messes.  One of my sisters stated quite clearly that whoever was at home was responsible for clearing up his bathroom mishaps.  That was her passive aggressive way of telling me how lazy I was and that I should be doing more for the dog, and of totally ignoring my illness.  

Masti's first snow fall!
This was the end of 2005 and the beginning of 2006 and if you've read Interview with Maria Mann - An ME Hero Who Saved My Life you'll know that was not the best time for me.  But slowly things begin to change and Masti actually helped.  Teaching Masti to find a routine, also helped me to find one.  I may have been ill, but I was a strong pack leader and thanks to Masti's natural intelligence and obedience and with lots of tips from the show The Dog Whisperer, very soon he followed all my commands and my lonely days were gone.

I had a funny, furry, gorgeous friend who listened when I talked, was happy to do all the work and activity when we played (all I had to do was either throw or hide his toys and he's go get them and give them to me), he learned better than any human when I was too ill and needed snuggles and quiet and also when I was down and needed to laugh.  On those rare occasions I was feeling better, he always knew and would stand before me wagging his tail, inviting me out to sit with him in the garden.

He helped me pace myself and to find a routine, and so he helped me manage my health and my symptoms.  I love him and miss him loads.  I would love to get my very own German Shepherd, but even if my tenancy agreement allowed it, the fact is that German Shepherds require a lot of exercise. At my parents house, there were other able-bodied people to take care of his physical needs, but here there would not be.  It would be selfish and wrong of me to own a German Shepherd now.  Still I dream of the day I can have my own dog.  I have had many people suggest that I do not need to get a big dog like a GSD, but can get a more low-maintenance dog.  But this heart belongs to German Shepherds and that is what I really want.

My sister has a Puggle which she got as a puppy over a year ago.  His name is Monty and his parents are a Pug and a Beagle.  I looked after him a couple of times for a few hours or so, but as cute as he is and I loved having him, he reminded me how much energy a puppy requires.

The good news is that I will be visiting my Masti tomorrow.  So even if I can't have my very own furry friend right now, I still have access to furry pawed cuddles.

You can read more about Jack and Masti and 
see lots more pics on my Squidoo lens

There are lots more pics of Monty, not to mention a whole load of information about National Puppy Day on my Squidoo lens 

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