Nine years ago the end of February or early March, we drove to Lancaster area of Pennsylvania to pick up a puppy. DH wanted an English Mastiff. I had no clue what they looked like, their temperament, their size. The puppies that were left from the litter were in a pen in a shed. The mom had a huge litter during a bitter freeze and they lost part of the litter of pups. When we got there, Ranger and only a couple of his siblings were left. DH was in love with a 22 pound ball of skin and fur. He asked if we could see the parents who were up a hill in the welding shop on the household’s property so the owner called up and told them to let the dogs out. They came bounding down the hill like a couple of freight trains and though I’m not afraid of dogs, I was frightened at the sight of these two huge beasts with jowls flapping, racing down the hill. I wondered what we were getting into.
When we were headed home, the frightened pup let loose from both ends, requiring a stop at the nearest store for paper towels, gallon jug of water, and a serious clean up of the crate and the pup. I had put a towel in the crate and it was fouled, so we purchased a fleece blanket to line the crate. Once home, he wouldn’t climb the stairs or go back down them. Daughter told us not to carry him up or he would never learn and we wouldn’t be able to deal with him grown. How true that is as he grew over the next two years to a 200 pound gentle giant.
Here he is, about a year old with eldest grandson using him as a pillow. They are still buddies when grandson comes to visit. Ranger has ridden to Florida when daughter lived there with his head in Grandson’s lap as he was travelling with us that summer.
When he was a younger dog, he would play soccer with a rigid horse ball, kicking it around the yard with his feet until it would roll down the back field to the fence. He couldn’t get it back up himself, requiring one of us to go get it, but we would have to put the ball in a canvas sack so he couldn’t see it or he would spend the entire walk back up the hill trying to get it from us. Now his energy level lasts only a few short minutes, he no longer plays with the horse ball, but will pick up a large softer ball on a rope, fling it around dangerously, and bring it for you to hold the other end. He never caught on to tug of war, thank goodness, as he could pull me across the house.
Two weeks after we got him, we drove back to Pennsylvania to get a German Shepherd pup. She was a beautiful, dark, long haired shepherd and I fell in love instantly. Unfortunately, she only lived with us for 8 weeks before a serious neurological defect required us to have her euthanized. Later in the summer, on our way to Florida, we picked up a 16 week old German Shepherd that has had recurrent health issues, is very, very needy, but afraid of her own shadow.
When they were younger, they would go on hikes with us, but the German Shepherd never wanted to walk where there were crowds, bicycles, skateboards, or people with walking sticks, so we would go to the woods. Ranger wanted the attention of people at the Farmer’s Market and on the rail grade trail, but didn’t like loading in the car. He loves rides, but getting in and out has been an issue for years.
They are both 9 years old now. He is an old man that is so fearful of going down the steps that he is limited to only coming up to the loft at night. There is no way we could get him down if he didn’t eventually do it on his own. She, because of her various ailments is old for her age as a German Shepherd. Unfortunately, the two of them never bonded like the Ranger and Meeko did in their short time together. Shadow tries to herd Ranger, he tolerates her most of the time, but will rebuke her occasionally.
The big guy is a sweet, chill, gentle giant that loves most people (especially kids), cats, but not other strange dogs after he was bitten by a Pit Bull at the dog park, the last time we ever went there.
And for size reference, this is Ranger at about 2 years old, so mostly full grown, sitting in DH’s lap in the old “Chair.”