Back in the 1960’s my dad (a scientist at RAE Farnborough) worked with an Alsatian in a project to use them to find black boxes at air crash sites. The old recorders were very susceptible to getting wiped by people searching crash sites with metal detectors, so alternate methods needed to be found.
Pathé News clip can be found HERE: Black-Box-Retriever
My dad loved the dog that was trained at RAE Farnborough for this task.
The dog was called Rusty.
As many people will no doubt know, we love our animals, be they hens, crows, cats or horses, but we have wanted a dog for some time. So, in memory of my dad, and his Rusty work mate, we looked for a dog to fill our homes dog shaped hole. It had to be a GSD (German Shepherd Dog) with a good temperament and fine with children and other animals. Chris did a lot of research and found a breeder in Ireland called Alsace Royale German Shepherds, who had exactly the style of GSD we wanted, and raised from a pup with children and animals around it. Chris did her homework, asked around and decided that these were the ones for us.
These dogs were originally called German Shepherd dogs until the war, at which point having something ‘German’ became unsavoury. As such, they were renamed ‘Alsastian Wolf Hounds‘, and then shortened to ‘Alsatian‘. Much campaigning took place, and in 1977 the original breed name was given the okay to register under again. In 2010 the ‘Alsation‘ tag was officially dropped.
We also knew who we wanted as the parents of our pup, so were going to wait until next year when they would breed the pair again… but in the meantime I went behind Chris’s back and talked to the breeder. I wanted to see if I could get a head start and somehow get a puppy ahead of the time Chris and Alex thought we’d be getting one, and then it would be a great surprise for them both.
Alex has been using pocket money and treats to buy dog toys, ready for when we got a dog, even though he knew we weren’t getting one for a long time. Even when asked what he wanted Santa to get him for Christmas, he replied “Dog toys please“. When asked why he didn’t ask for a puppy, he said “That’s not going to happen for a long time, so I’m not even asking”.
I asked what could daddy get you to make daddy better than Santa (expecting “a puppy!!!”) and he said… “A hug…”
Yeah, that knocked me back a bit too.
Well, that really made me want to surprise him. What a lovely, selfless answer. He didn’t want toys for himself, he wanted things for a dog that we wouldn’t be getting for a very long time, and the one thing he did want cost nothing.
Then Jackie from Alsace Royale called me just over a week ago. She had some news. One of the previous litters from the parents we wanted, had to be returned to the breeders because the new owners had some news after 8 weeks of ownership that meant they would not be able to keep a dog. A 15 week old female short hair GSD was available. Okay, she wasn’t a 10 week old GSD next summer… but what’s six weeks older, just to see the looks on Christine and Alex’s faces?
Here she is as a few weeks old, from the Alsace Royale web site (she’s the one who sniffs the camera):
After some careful planning, lots of calls with Jackie and a traffic jam encountered by Lenny, the Alsace Royale specialist dog courier, Alsace Royale Rusty showed up at our meeting place. I had intended to keep this all secret from Chris, and then turn up at Alex’s school that afternoon and wait at the gates as they left… but in the end, I took Chris with me, and some excellent friends picked Alex up after school – telling him that mum and dad had broken down in the car, and would be around later to pick him up.
Well, it goes without saying that Chris and Alex were really surprised and incredible happy. Rusty absolutely loves Alex, and her temperament is perfect. She gets on with our hens and cats, and is a really well behaved around strangers and other dogs.
She’s already become close friends with Ytsur, the mirror dog…
… and she’s discovered the lake, where she doesn’t care less about the swans and ducks…
So yup, she’s a happy new addition to the family.