I think I have mentioned before that Davidd has this theory about German Shepherds and whether they will like you or see you as someone who needs warning off. His theory goes that the police use them because they are the best breed at smelling fear. If you are scared of them then they sense that fear and see you as a threat. They will then treat you with suspicion, whereas if you just see them as a dog you want to befriend then they will treat you kindly in return. That is basically how Davidd says a German Shepherd’s brain works. Max was slightly different because of his character flaw, he had an inbuilt distrust of anyone he doesn’t know or hasn’t met but he basically – according to Davidd – sticks to the same rules.
So one day Davidd is out with Max and Duke in Arrowe Park, a park in Birkenhead that has a good deal of woodland in it as well as wide open parkland. It was a week day and so most people were in work or school and the park was pretty much empty. Max and Duke are playing football, returning their footballs to Davidd so he can kick them off into the distance for them to chase. Max retrieves his ball and Davidd kicks it off again into the distance and it lands just on the edge of some woodland. Just at the very moment the ball stops, a young lad (about 12 years old, or so) walks out of the woods, sees the football and immediately picks it up, no doubt thinking there is a game to be had here with Max.
Davidd shouts for the lad to kick the ball away before Max arrives and potentially murders the lad for stealing his football. The lad won’t hear a word of it, he shouts at Max to sit and blow me down with a feather, Max sits. The lad then kicks the ball off into the distance and Max chases after it. Davidd heads over to the lad to warn him not to touch Max’s football again because he isn’t a very friendly dog. The lad looks at Davidd like he has just landed, as Max returns with his football.
Without a fear in the world, the lad launches at Max and snatches the ball out of his mouth. Again he orders Max to sit and again Max complies with his order. Davidd can’t believe what he is witnessing, if anyone else had tried such a trick it would probably have come in handy that there is also a hospital within the grounds of Arrowe Park.
This time the lad doesn’t kick the ball for Max but walks up to him and strokes him on the head telling him he is a “good boy”. Max seemed quite proud of himself and when the lad kicked the football away again off he set off in hot pursuit. Davidd couldn’t believe how cool the lad was around Max and asked him if he was used to dogs.
Turns out the lad is visiting family and is actually French and lives on a farm in France with many sheep dogs. He explains in broken English that he is used to playing and working with dogs and that they always seem to like him, even dogs he does not know. So Davidd kept an eye on the French lad but let him play with Max and his football.
Next, David told him to tell Max to wait, kick the ball and then tell him to “fetch” it. Davidd was intrigued to see if he would accept commands off this young whippersnapper. The first time Max ignored him so Davidd told him to be more firm with his command and shout “Wait” a couple of times before kicking the ball. Blow us down with a feather, it worked – Max waited to be told to fetch the football before running after it.
That day the French lad spent a couple of hours walking around Arrowe Park with Max and Duke and had both the dogs eating out of his hand. Duke was easy he would play with anyone but in the whole history of Max, this was the only person who he ever accepted straight off, without hesitation. Anyone else would have been warned off with a snarl and then bitten if they had not complied or Davidd hadn’t got there first.
So perhaps Davidd is right after all, if you don’t show any fear towards a German Shepherd then they will accept you as a friend and not someone who needs to be warned off.
Major, on the other hand, was the complete opposite of Max. He didn’t care who kicked his football for him as long as he got to chase after it. His character flaw however, was that he was very impatient. If he arrived back to Davidd while Davidd was kicking Max’s football and so wouldn’t do him the courtesy of kicking his football for him immediately, then he would quickly look around the park, find an unsuspecting victim and run over to them at top gallop for them to kick his football.
The only problem with this was that the poor victims had no idea why this huge German Shepherd was running straight at them at top speed. They would panic and start screaming. Even funnier was as soon as they started screaming, Major would look around the park trying to work out what they were scared of. It didn’t cross his mind for one second that it was him, because being nasty to anyone was just not in his nature.
Many a time Davidd would hear a scream in the park, turn around and see a woman with kids in hysterics thinking her and her brood was being attacked by a football wielding monster dog. Davidd would have to shout at the top of his lungs, “It’s okay, just kick his ball for him.” Major would then arrive in front of them, spit the ball out of his mouth at their feet and one of the kids would kick his football and off he would go after it again.
The kids would then start shouting for Major to bring the ball back again realising he was friendly. Major must have had more friends in more parks around the Wirral than any other dog in the whole history of dogs.
Always made us laugh how different dogs of exactly the same breed can be so different.