When Káta was two years old I met Ljúfur. We met in the same week of his second birthday. He is a German Shepherd pure breed, of the name Gunnarsholts Picasso.
When we met I had never known German Shepherds (Sheffer) from first hand experience. I had many ideas about them, as is common, which later experience has changed. This dog breed is, along with Retrievers and Border Collies, perhaps the most successful and versatile in the world today.
One day I got an SMS from an acquaintance which read “would you like to own a Sheffer male who is two years old and will be eutanized tomorrow?” I immediately responded with “I’d like to see the look in his eyes before I decide!”
Nowadayse I wouldn’t hesitate to say yes immediately. You don’t eutanize these animals unless for mercy from pain. All of their behaviour problems can be healed. All souls can heal.
An hour and a half later I met Ljúfur and the moment our eyes locked, he was mine. Since that day we’ve been together for years and had maney shared experiences. He has taught me a lot about life, about trust and love, and about dogs. He has been instrumental in my personal growth to become more than I can be.
When he came home with me I soon realized that he was very depressed and he believed that no one could love him and he felt himself to be a total failure in life. How do I know that he thought these things? Easy. You can learn everything about how dogs think when you grow up with them and watch them daily with open mind. Especially when you train them weekly for years.
One of the first things I learnt from living with Ljúfur is to trust the thoughts which dogs emanate. Once you start trusting those insights and use them in training, that is when training really takes off towards success.
When he was two years old he had changed owners six times! He had lost everyone he loved six times and lost all outlook on life. Doing this twice would destroy many of the German Sheperds around, and Rottweilers. As he is a very steadfast and well grounded soul he has never shown any pshycological disorder resulting from those traumas.
I’m very liberal using the word destroy: The German Shepherd is very popular and it is common that people with means buy those cute puppies and then give, or sell, them away when they become too difficult. This often results in them changing owners two or more times. Often the new owners don’t recognize the hurt this creates and don’t know how to heal it. That often results in repeated sould-injury which ultimately can nearly destroy the dog.
It was soon evident that he had learnt no useful commands from his previous owners. He hardly knew the meaning of “no” much less how to play or fetch. It took us more than two weeks to develop playing skills and to tune in to new commands and exercises. Within a month of us meeting he had learnt how to walk nicely on a leash, jump fences, climb walls, lie down, sit down, wait, fetch, roll over and heel. I loved all of these games and still plays them with me.
For a few weeks I tried to track down his story. I successfully built a consistent thread, of who had owned him and, how he had been treated. One of his owners less than a year previously also had his brother (Prímó) from the same litter. I met with that guy, who is an experienced trainer himself, and upon our meeting he encouraged me to take up SAR in a Search And Rescue club where he trained.
The following year we trained Search and Rescue, first with BHSÍ, and later with LSL. Through that experience, with Ljúfur, and also with Káta and Loppa, I would never have discovered the wonderful world of successful dog-training, with well intentioned people who love dogs more than they love opinions and intergroup politics.
There is one thing which Ljúfur hates more than anything, and that is if I leave him at home even just for ten minutes and take off in our Jeep. He has his own way of letting me know when I leave without him, which by the way is only when I’m forced to.
When he was three years old, someone gave me a kitten. I gave her the name of Dimma. Within three days Ljúfur had manged to lure the kitten to be tounge-washed and as soon as she was able to, she began following us on our walks through the neighbourhood.
Ljúfur always treated “Dimma the cat” as one of the pack. When she later had two kittens they were treated the same. He checked out the cat litter twice a day and made sure the two young cats were protected, loved, and fed. All cats in my house have always felt safe eating at his side.
He has also been excellent father of two puppy litters – one of those litters in our house. He Helped in the upbringing of two grown dogs in my house, Salka and Birta (his daughter) and later received another of his children, Sunna, into the pack.
As it happens he is also excellent with children. I mention all of this to explain his name, Ljúfur, which means Gentle. He is gentle, stable and loving – just like his owner.