Tag Archives: animal shelters

Si?ab: A Tribute to a German Shepherd #Dog

adultSiab blog
Everything in a writer’s life shapes her writing whether that is joy or sorrow. On Saturday at approximately 9:30 a.m. my beloved German Shepherd, Si?ab Vom Das Massiv, died. My wife and I were with her when she crossed the Rainbow Bridge. Her beautiful and gentle soul has been a guiding light in my writing and in my life. She was my Muse. It was she who guided my decision to write Death by Dog, a Special Crimes Team anti-dog fighting novel.

For several years, I bred Si?ab to a wonderful working line GSD, Griswold Von Grunheide owned by #SuzanneEviston, a police dog breeder and trainer. They produced excellent pups. Shortly after the sale of the last pup from Si?ab’s last litter I read an article in the newspaper about a German Shepherd who had been beaten nearly to death and tossed in a dumpster in Seattle to die. Fortunately, some kind soul heard a whimper from the dumpster and rescued the dog. He survived. I shuddered and quickly checked the photo of the dog. It was colored differently than any dogs birthed by Si?ab. I inhaled a relieved breath; however, the seeds of Death by Dog were sown.

Dogs and books have been constants in my life. One of my first memories is of a dog named Trixie, a German Shepherd rescued from the Animal Shelter. After I learned to read at the age of six, I often hid in the attic of our old three-story house next to one of its grimy windows. As the dull light seeped through, I read for hours with Trixie lying next to my leg. For those hours, I was transported from my violence-ridden neighborhood into a different world.

My imagination fired by the stories I read had me scribbling stories of my own. My grandfather, Pap, would have me sit on his lap and read my latest story to him. He suffered through every childish word as if he listened to the next Pulitzer Prize winner.

As spring gave way to summer of my fifth grade year and school edged toward its three month closure my teacher, Mrs. V., made me promise to continue writing during vacation.That summer my family moved out of the neighborhood where I had grown up, yet I faithfully kept my promise to Mrs. V. Though Trixie died a couple of years before we moved, that June my mother took me to the Animal Shelter where I purchased a black Lab. I named him Laddie.

During those long summer days Laddie gamboled by my side as we walked up the grassy slope to the copse of trees at the back of the property where my mother had moved us. He would sniff and wander about, and then return to lie down by my side as I scribbled story after story. By the start of school that fall, I was hooked on writing.

Later in life during those times I found myself either living on the road or homeless, dogs and books remained my constant companions. They stoked the guttering fires of hope; they fueled the flames that burned inside of me. And I wrote.

I wrote articles for newspapers about racism and the horror of the child welfare system. I wrote poems and flung them into the world through the pages of anthologies and newspapers. I wrote short stories and published some of them in small magazines. And always a dog lay next to me.

During the past ten years, Si?ab led me into the experiences of #Schutzhund and #agility.

She followed me as I planted trees and fought back invasive blackberries as my wife and I transformed a neglected farm into a wildlife/wild bird habitat. She trotted next to me as I rode on horseback through forests and along mountain trails; and camped far from city lights.

She never knew a stranger unless he threatened my wife or me, and then her teeth would warn him away. Children mauled her as she lay waiting patiently for her turn on the agility fields. Inevitably, people who met her came to love and respect her gentle soul.

When my wife’s old German Shepherd, Katrina, died last spring, Si?ab spent a lot of time during those first few months comforting my wife. These past few weeks, undoubtedly sensing that her time to Travel to the Other Side loomed close, she spent nearly every waking and sleeping moment next to me as if she knew how much I would soon need those memories.

Now the job of comforting and inspiring me falls to Isis, Si?ab’s daughter. This morning she wrapped herself around my legs and pressed against me; she dispensed kisses and laid quietly on the couch as I drank my morning tea—a job Si?ab always performed to get my day off to a pleasant start.
Start day w Siab

Dogs and books. They have been constants in my world, grounding me; inspiring me. They give me strength and courage to face life and to send out words that I hope will–someday, somehow–help transform the world into a better place.
5 GSDs in a row
Siab Rainbow Bridge



BOOK RELEASE EVENT ON FACEBOOK March 19-26: https://www.facebook.com/events/770876499591749/



READ FOR ANIMALS, anthology by authors, poets, artists and animals lovers to help #animals.
The money collected from the sales of the book is donated to animal shelters and hospices.
The ebook is available from Amazon:


Erika Szabo: The moving force behind the creation of Read For Animals
“All my pets were either adopted from #shelters, or they found us. We live in the Catskill Mountains and unfortunately the “summer people” who rent a home or own one, often bring #puppies and #kittens with them for the entertainment of their #children for the summer. When autumn comes, they move back to the cities where pets are a nuisance or not allowed in the apartment building. Some of them just close the door behind them and leave the animals outside to fend for themselves. Since we moved to the country from the Bronx over 20 years ago, eight cats and three dogs have found us and stayed with us until they had to go to animal heaven.

I want to help animals in need, any way I can. Being a writer, I decided to use my God given talent for storytelling to help struggling animal shelters. Our furry, feathered and scaly friends need our help to survive.

I wrote some funny and true stories about my pets, and about fox pups that grew up in my backyard. I invited a few author friends to join me in this project to publish a book, Read for Animals, and to donate the money collected from the sales–after publishing fees–to different animal shelters every three months.”

Contributors to this book:
Authors, poets, animal lovers: Erika M Szabo, Lorinda J. Taylor, Cindy J. Smith, Jeanne E. Rogers, Zrinka Jelic, Patrick O’Scheen, Kristine Raymond, Shebat Legion, Sandra Novelly, Shannon Sonneveldt, Julie Davis Dundas, Linda Whitehead Humbert, Debbie D. (Doglady) . Artist: Klarissa Kocsis

BLOG: http://www.readforanimals.blogspot.com/

FACEBOOK PAGE: https://www.facebook.com/ReadForAnimals


CLICK and FOLLOW for more great posts!





Gertrude, a beautiful five-year-old German Shepherd housed in Kennel Run 10, was scheduled to die in the morning.

I had worked at whatever odd jobs I could find all summer long.  Dusting furniture when it was so hot sweat dripped from the tip of my nose.  Slashing at bramble vines until my arms and even my face looked like I’d had an argument with someone welding a horse whip.  But I was nine that summer and Mom told me if I earned the ten dollars required, she would let me choose a puppy from the local shelter.

We had several dogs at home.  Dogs my mother and I had scraped up off the highways, crushed by speeding cars, patched back together by a vet mom knew who didn’t charge us much.  I’d helped those dogs to survive, getting up every two hours around the clock to feed them gruel and to change the newspapers when they got wet and nasty.

But this dog would be mine.  One I had chosen.

The puppies at the shelter were housed in two kennel runs at the end of the aisle back near the right corner of the huge concrete room.

The older black man who led us through the heavy door and into the back, cautioned as we neared Kennel 10,  “Ya’ll want to stay way away from that fence now,”  he said in his deep, kind voice.  “That thar dog wuz brought in ‘cause she mean.  Cain’t noone git nowheres near her.  Cain’t hardly feed her even; not without a catch pole.”

Just as we came even with the kennel run, the German Shepherd flew from the back of the short run, slamming herself into the cyclone fencing so hard it shook and rattled.  Teeth bared, hackles up, she snarled.  Clawing the fence, she seemed determined to reach us.  I could feel my heart pounding as I scooted so quickly behind our guide that I stepped on the heel of his shoes.  We were three runs away before I realized Mom had stayed behind.

I stopped and turned.  The old gentleman did too.  We both stared.  He amazed; me in resignation.  Fingers through the wire diamonds of the fence,  I could see Mom’s lips moving. The German Shepherd stood, pressed against the wire, gazing up into my mother’s face.

“I be dogged,” the old man breathed.  “I ain’t never seen the like.”

I shrugged.  “My mom has a way with dogs.”

We proceeded to the back corner where Black Lab-mix puppies tumbled around each other as they all struggled to get closer to the fence.  I stuck my fingers through and their tiny tongues slurped as if I had dipped my fingertips in cream.

“I’ll let you in to sit awhile.” The old man took a ring of keys from his belt loop.  “You jest holler when ya want out, okay?”

Happily plopped on the cool concrete, puppies crowding in my lap, I nodded.

What seemed like a long time later, the old man returned.  “Ya’ll ready to come outta thar?”

I carefully stood up, gently dislodging several sleeping pups. “I guess so.”

He walked me back up the aisle until we arrived at where my mother still stood in communion with the German Shepherd from Hell.  The old man kept walking.  I stopped a few feet away, but Mom whispered, “You can come on over, Sis.  She won’t hurt you.”

I edged forward, only partially reassured by my mother’s words.  Mom sometimes forgot that dogs who wouldn’t hurt her would gladly eat the rest of us.  The big black-and-tan female glanced at me, but quickly returned her loving gaze to my mother’s face.

I could hear the tears in my mother’s voice when she said, “They’re gonna kill her tomorrow morning.  No one wants to take her.  They’re all afraid.”

Clearing my throat I asked quietly, “Why don’t you get her, Mom?”

My mother shook her head.  “Money’s tight, Sis.  I need what I got for groceries tonight.  And I won’t get paid till Friday.”

Desperately, I said, “Maybe they’ll hold ‘er for you.  It’s just a coupla days.”

“I asked.”  Mom sighed.  “They’re afraid of her, too.”

As I stood there behind my mother’s squatted form, I saw a tear trace silently down her cheek.  My mother never cried.  Not when our house burned nearly to the ground.  Not when she got into a bar room fight that left her needing stitches from the slash of a knife.  My mother never cried.

Taking a deep breath, I whispered, “I found my dog, Mom.”

Mom took a deep breath and I could see her pulling herself together. With a sad look she gave the dog a last cheek stroke then pushed up and turned to face me.  The smile she forced on her lips wavered.  “Well, what’re we standin’ here for?  You better show me this wonderful animal.”

Closing my eyes for a moment, I slowly opened them and looked up at my mother.  “Don’t need to go nowhere.  I want to buy her.”  I pointed at the German Shepherd who’s eyes had never left my mother’s face.

“Oh no, Sis,” Mom replied.  “You don’t want her.  She’d never really be your dog.”

I shrugged.  “Don’t matter.  Laddie’d be hurt if I brought home ‘nother dog.  I wanna buy her for you.”  Seeing my mother getting ready to argue, I hurriedly added, “For your birthday.  An early birthday present.”

“Oh, Sis, you don’t have to do this.  You’ve been waiting a long time to get a dog for yourself.”

“It’s okay, Mom.  I can wait a little while longer.  She can’t.”

The old man handed a leash to my mom.  After he unlocked the cage, he scrambled away down the aisle.  Everyone moved away as Mom led Gertie out of the front door.

Gertrude went home that day. As she heeled beside my mother, out of that cold concrete building and into the midsummer sunshine, Gertie never realized any other human was close by. Her eyes never left my mother’s face.


I hope you enjoyed this true story of Gertrude the German Shepherd dog and my mother, a complicated woman with a great love for animals.

I wrote the original story, Dog on Death Row, long ago as a high school English assignment.

The dog pictured in this post is the spitting image of Gertrude from those many years ago though her name is Niki. Like Gertrude, Niki is a proper German Shepherd who would fight and die for her family.

Unlike Gertrude, Niki has never seen the inside of the Death Row for Dogs.  Handled properly, Niki’s protective instincts have garnered her admiration instead of the fear with which Gertrude was viewed.

For more adorable pictures of German Shepherd dogs, German Shepherd puppies and other fun things, visit my Pinterest page:  http://www.pinterest.com/ayawalksfar

Do leave a comment. Tell me about the special dog you remember.

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