From: "Alan Johnson, MD"
Date: 2008/07/20 Sun PM 12:19:57 EDT
To: Roger and Dorothy
Subject: RE: Zwinger von Himmel

Roger and Dorothy,
We appreciate your interest in how things are going.

Gabriel/Grischa (he gets called both and fortunately responds to both) is remarkable in every sense but particularly in terms of temperament and intelligence.

He eats well, has incredible energy, and is in good health. He moves beautifully, with that ground eating shepherd gait, and is athletic and sound. I have had a large number of dogs. I have never had a dog whose temperament and intelligence combine to make him unbelievably trainable. I'll not burden you with too many examples, but he is calm and collected around all our animals (horses, donkeys, parrots in the house, chickens outside, rabbits, bears, and turkeys frequently etc.) first looking to us to define their place and then reproducibly acting in an appropriate fashion. He waits, for example, at the gait (open or closed) to the pasture and does not enter as he was(once)instructed - but if the equines lean over the fence to him he is friendly and cautious. He does not chase or bark (I told him one time to "leave the chickens alone" and that was all it took) though in the case of rabbits it clearly pains him to stay at my side. He has learned respect for a parrots beak, but will stand by them if they fly to the floor until one of us comes to help them up...He alerts us to a human visitor but immediately becomes friendly and sweet when told these are accepted, remaining alert and standing in front of us with strangers etc. This is quite different from our danes who are not so good at settling down when reassured and can be a nuisance with their barking and aggressive stance. Interestingly, Gabriel recently has begun to grab their muzzle in his jaws if I fuss at them to hush, following which they settle down and accept this correction despite the size mismatch.

I have rarely had to tell him no more than once. I regret that I work 85 hours a week, as I think he would be terrific at more formal working dog training. We plan to try to get him at least socialized outside the "pack" by agility at least, but just don't realistically have the time anymore to travel and show.

Sorry for the running on...As you can tell I adore this dog. Myra accuses me of stealing her pup, but I don't really see it that way. Our gratitude to you for placing us with such a remarkable pal.