Happy 2021: Puppy News, Alta-Tollhaus, & German Shepherds

Happy end of 2020, everyone! All hail a new year, one which I hope is filled with good health for you all as well as laughter, joy, financial security, love, and peace.

I have a little news which I’ll tell you as soon as I apologize profoundly for delays in a review that I’ve promised for a while, at least on Twitter, namely Chanel‘s new Le Lion de Chanel, the newest entry into its high-end Exclusifs Collection. Long story short, I love it and so does everyone I know, and I’ll be splitting the massive 6.8 oz bottle with my mother.

I had planned to post my highly enthusiastic review of Le Lion right at the start of the new year with subsequent reviews scheduled for: three new Serge Lutens, including a rose-oud; the new Dusita; a new Ensar Oud parfum; two additional Amouage releases in the new Renaissance Collection; a Killian; and more.

Then the news hit about something which takes precedence above all else in my life: the German Overlords! Specifically, it was absolutely confirmed that I would jump to No. 1 on the wait list (finally! it’s been eons!), that I would get my choice of boys from the November 12th litter, and that I’d get my pup sometime in early-mid January.

There were two, known only as “Blue collar boy” and “Blue Camo collar boy.” (Official names on the papers are a different matter; breeders don’t want to pups to associate or respond to any name until the future owner chooses the final name.)

Each boy was a chonk, but Blue seemed like a Super Chonk to me and he gave a glorious, quizzical side-eye, just like my late Emile Zola. A Twitter friend summed it up well when he asked: “why does he look like a small, all-knowing God??”  (Because GSDS *are* small, all-knowing gods, my friend.)

Alta Tolhaus “Blue” (Chonk) boy, only 20 days old and outside for the first time.

Alta Tolhaus “Blue” (Chonk) boy, only 20 days old and outside for the first time.

Blue Camo seemed daintier and possibly even more philosophical, but less quizzical and questioning, and with far less chunky paws. One thing you must know about me: I’m a sucker for big, fat, chunky paws, be they on a dog, a lion, a tiger, or even a cat. Blue Camo seemed like a daintier proposition to me. Plus, he didn’t give side-eye but aloof detachment.

Alta Tolhaus “Blue Camo” boy, only 20 days old and outside for the first time.



One thing about German Shepherd newborns and pups for those of you who may be unfamiliar with the breed: they’re born all or mostly all black, but their colour slowly changes over the course of 18 months, the black recedes and their saddle, colour, and markings slowly creep up. When I got the “Hairy German,” he was heavily black in colour, then slowly turned to black and gold, before finally turning into black and red.

Baby Zola, roughly 10 weeks old.

The Hairy German at the dog park.

My Imperial Overlord, The Hairy German.

The Hairy German.

The Hairy German, taking over my bed like the king that he was.

Kafka was not all sugar and spice, but he was trained when to bring out the fangs!

Since many of you love puppy photos, let me contrast Emile Zola’s photos with that of the late, great Kafka, a red sable great-grandson of one of the most famous GSDS to ever live in the 20th century: Troll.

Like rockstars Sting, Prince, and Cher, Troll was known only by one name, but his full, history-making official name was Troll von der bösen Nachbarschaft.

Troll Von Der Bosen Nachbarschaft, one of the late 20th century’s most acclaimed champion German Shepherds.

Baby Kafka, roughly 8 weeks old.

Baby Kafka, 8 weeks old.

Kafka, as an adult who terrified every man, woman, child, and post man in two different states.

His Royal Highness, Kafka,

This is the point where I’m going to give you all an unwanted lesson on German Shepherds, They Who Must Be Obeyed and Worshipped. 🙂 What few outsiders realize is that there are really five (arguably 6, in my opinion) different German Shepherds, not one. Or to put it another way, there are six sub-types, and each one has a different general look, personality type, drive, health and breeding focus, and physical structure. A number of sites argue that the truest modern representation of the German Shepherd ideal intended by Baron Max von Stephanitz when he created the breed in the late 1800s is actually the West German working line shepherd. I personally agree.

My breeder, Alta-Tollhaus German Shepherds, specializes in the pretty stunning and rare “red and blacks,” which are primarily from West German blood lines (mixed with some East German).

A few of the Alta-Tolhaus GSDs around their mom.

6x World VA champion, Pepe von Leithwald, KKL1, IPO3 (SchH3), and more. This is my boy’s dad!

One Alta Tollhaus sire, Pepe.

Alta Tollhaus puppies, Photo from their website, 24kgsd.com.

Alta-Tollhaus GSDs come from West German working/IPO/KKL/SchH lines, which are subject to even more stringent rules than say, show lines. West Germans do not look like East Germans, Czechs, Belgian Malinois, Dutch Shepherds, American Shepherds, or the working and show variations on each group. My late Hairy German was a red-and-black from W. German working and show lines, but I previously had German Shepherds from STASI East German/DDR working lines, Czech & East German military/working lines, and a mix of both with European show lines.

In Germany and in most places other than America, GSDs can only be bred if they first qualify for a stringent set of examinations that measure every aspect of a dog and its health in multi-pronged tests: Schutzhund. Dogs that fail to conform in temperament, health, hips, elbows, ability, agility, protection, obedience, attack, and other things cannot be bred.

In America, the rules are… different. Health and genetic tests aren’t required, for one thing. Looks are the focus, not health, temperament, working ability, or breed behavioral standards. (This is one of many reasons why the German oversight GSD committee wants the American Shepherd to be an entirely separate, unrelated breed without the word “German” associated. But that is a story for another day.)

“Black and red” is a rare colouring for German Shepherds when they’re taken as a whole. German Overlords can range from black to white (not accepted as a breed norm) to shades of sable, heavy white and blonde hues (American Shepherds), blacks, black-browns with little saddling or blonde/gold (DDR and Czech lines), to the West German red.

Julie Richards of Alta-Tollhaus GSDs.

What I love about Alta-Tollhaus and Julie Richards, the kind, warm, passionate, caring woman behind the line (whom I’ve known for 8 years now) is how much she cares about the dog’s health, temperament, and its treatment by its future owners more than absolutely anything else. I have never experienced a situation where I’m literally begging another person, repeatedly, for how I can pay them, but with Julie, she’s more interested in sending me five emails, EACH with 5 separate, long PDF files, on how to raise, feed, train, vaccinate, and take care of every possible facet of the pup’s life. (Did you know that tennis balls can remove a dog’s tooth enamel? I’ve had dogs for 30+ years and I never knew that, but that was just one little tidbit on page 26 of just one lengthy PDF on how to raise the best puppy you can, along with tips, tricks, and how to overcome problems.)

When I told many of you last month that the Hairy German, my soul dog, died in April, what I never told you was that I had to put him down due to Degenerative Myelopathy. I wouldn’t wish that on any dog owner. It was a ghastly, ghastly experience, even if it wasn’t so painful for him. Basically, DM is like Muscular Sclerosis, or MS, in humans combined with neurological loss. Death by slow paralysis, in other words.

Testing for Degenerative Myelopathy is a relatively new thing for most GSD breeders, but Alta-Tollhaus has done genetic testing to avoid it in all their lines for almost 20 years now. Zola’s breeder, in contrast, the man written up in magazines as being the “Rolls Royce of German Shepherd breeders” never once tested for it. Nor for anything else it seems.

In fact, it seems he didn’t do much of anything else except threaten to sue me when I stated on a GSD board that my new 4-month old puppy had just been diagnosed by a second vet and specialist as having bilateral hip dysplasia. The bloody man never once cared about his dogs or their health; he would have killed Zola had I ever sent him back, and he was more concerned with silencing people with threats of lawsuits than in making sure his dogs were healthy. (As it turns out, I’m not the only one he threatened with a defamation lawsuit for stating a medical diagnosis and medical fact. I may have been the only one to tell him to bring it on because I’d sue him back and to beyond, in addition to asking for damages and attorneys’ fes for a frivolous lawsuit that was legally unsubstantiated by the very definition of libel or defamation.)

I’ve taken this long segue to make a point: this will be one amazing, different puppy from a truly conscientious breeder, and I have to admit, part of me is slightly terrified that I won’t measure up! Sure, I’ve had GSD for decades, but training and socializing them during a pandemic when socialization is ill-advised and where much-needed (indoor-held) 6-week puppy courses on heeling and obedience walking (my one terrible blind spot, training wise) will be impossible in the age of COVID is quite a different thing entirely. Scientific studies show that puppy brain development is heightened and critically formed during the 8 week to 14 week stage — do I have the stamina at this point to train and socialize a German Shepherd each and every day for the next 8 months straight?

I’ll have to find that stamina — not just to train him in extensive obedience, not just to socialize him daily so that he’s not a loaded gun, but also to desensitize him to everything from other dogs to crowds, strangers knocking at the door, vacuum cleaners, hair dryers, pots, pans, cars, food removal, physical inspections, nail clippings, and tooth cleanings.

This means that my planned schedule for reviews will not be what I had anticipated back in the end of 2021. I honestly thought I’d be on the waitlist for months more to come, if not an additional year. (Last time on my Alta-Tollhaus wait-list, it was 18 months, and this was after she’d already known me for years, approved me, I’d filled out an extensive interview and questionnaire form, and been graciously spared the usual requirement of an in-person interview up in Michigan before she decided I knew enough about GSDs to be placed on the wait list to begin with! In other words, you have to prove yourself worthy of her dogs, and that’s only the first step! I think that’s fantastic. The sign of a truly serious, dedicated, conscientious breeder whose first concern are the pups, not the money. I wouldn’t want anything else! But what if I screw up this poor pup because I’m not capable of doing what I might have daily done 10 years ago and without a pandemic?)

The reason why this is suddenly so pressing is that my pup may be here as soon as Saturday or Sunday night! In the end, I got the “Blue Camo” boy who, to my surprise, it turns out is even BIGGER than the Blue Chonk and will be a much larger adult! Here he is at roughly 46 days of age, or 5.5 weeks of age:

“Blue Camo” boy’s name has been up in the air for weeks now and I think I will only be able to decide finally once I spend time with him in person. “Romeo” was always at the top of the list, even if it’s a bit cheesy, because this litter is supposed to be less high prey or super high prey drive than the others and filled with extra chill, extra mellow, sociable snuggle bunnies. (Well, relative to the Schutzhund/IPO norm, that is, not relative to regular dogs.)

With GSDs, names should ideally be one or two syllables in length, maximum, for training purposes. But “Blue Camo Boy”‘s deep thinker photos makes me wonder if I should give him a more philosophical name. Now, mind you, my family is positively HOWLING at everything I have mentioned for the last two months. My father insists that the only possible name is Wagnerian, preferably Siegfried or Wotan. My mom, siblings, and I just grimace and ignore him. But when I bring up Sci-fi names like Quark, Odo, Teal’q, they throw figurative, metaphoric tomatoes at me and moan. (Even my dad, a fellow Trekkie and Stargater! Shocking!)

Thus far, we’re on tap for Romeo, Gaius, Galileo, and Aristotle (shut up, I get enough grief already from my family!)(just be happy that I’ve given up Sophocles!), or whatever else he seems like when he arrives.

Speaking of arrivals, I joking say that the puppy will have his own chauffeur, but it isn’t really that far off the truth. I’ve been worried about all the dog deaths in the cargo holds of airlines like American, Delta, and United, and it’s especially cold now in Michigan which will be the city of departure. Sticking a tiny, young 8-9 week old pup in a gigantic, freezing cargo hold of an airplane seems incredibly traumatic. I’m not capable of driving 21+ hours to Michigan, nor do I want to fly in the midst of Covid. What my breeder suggested: a doggy chauffeur frequently used by American government agencies (FBI, DEA, CPB, prisons, FEMA) and regular human beings, not to mention a number of her clients. For roughly the same price (now that airlines have increased shipping/transport costs) as a ticket for a dangerous, “your pup may end up dying” cargo hold, this chap will drive your pup in his van (with heavy insurance) all across the country and bring your dog to your doorstep. No risk of airplane death at all and it’s more or less the same cost now, post-COVID ticketing prices. As I said, numerous federal law enforcement agencies, including the FBI, use him to transport their valuable, $20,000-$50,000-worth working professional K9s, so I think my little snausage-schnookums will be safe in his hands. No brutal airplane or cargo trauma for the same price, this is a glorious idea to me. (FYI, if you’re interested, his name is Raymond Wells and you can find him on FB with a large group he runs and that includes his many clients.

Source: RJ Wells.

Source: RJ or Raymond Mills, The Fluffy Show FB group.

Source: RJ or Raymond Mills, The Fluffy Show FB group.

Source: RJ or Raymond Mills, The Fluffy Show FB group.

Source: RJ or Raymond Mills, The Fluffy Show FB group.

The puppy limo! Source: RJ or Raymond Mills, The Fluffy Show FB group.

Long story short, perfume must fall to the wayside before the Holy German Emperors and my newest master will be here as soon as Sunday! So, yeah, don’t wait for my detailed breakdown of Chanel‘s Le Lion to order a sample off eBay or even a full bottle if you love labdanum, vintage Shalimar, old Mitzah, and vintage Coromandel!

And, yes, I actually am highly recommending a Chanel fragrance despit,e being someone whose entire brain gets scrambled upon the very mention of that Nazi she-devil. But Le Lion is glorious — as I will, hopefully, explain very soon, in-between puppy proofing the house, buying new collars and toys, removing all shoes and wires to a safe distance, and getting as much sleep as possible in advance of my future “potty every 20 minutes on the 20 minutes for 3 days straight” crate-pee-training. Also, the key thing to remember regarding that Nazi witch is that her intended Jewish victims now own the company, despite her attempts to use the Nazi legal and bureaucratic apparatus against them, in addition to turning to Nazi Aryan race laws, so don’t feel badly about buying Chanel!

I promise, I will get to Dusita, Ensar Oud, Serge Lutens, and the other Amouages as soon as I can manage. But I must tell you all bluntly that NONE of you matter as much as the floofy, snuggly German Overlords before whom I do abject obeisance. 🙂

PS — I will do my best not to spam you on this site with puppy paws, puppy tummy, puppy tongue, puppy ears, and more. But….. oh boy, on Twitter…. you’re all fair game. Also, as soon as HRH gets a name, he’s getting a Twitter account where I won’t be polite with just a photo or two a day.

You are all warned. THE GERMANS ARE COMING! 😉

Alta-Tollhaus website

Alta-Tollhaus FB page

30 thoughts on “Happy 2021: Puppy News, Alta-Tollhaus, & German Shepherds

  1. Your excitement is palpable, and I’m so happy for you! Maybe it’s a sign of more good things to come this new year.

  2. Oh my gosh! I have been looking forward to puppy news so with so much anticipation!! 😀 And, actually AI guess you didn’t ask, but if I may answer anyway: of the names you listed, I personally think Gaius is the best. I’m sure you’ll choose a great name and have a beautiful amazing best Overlord no matter what 🙂

    • Gaius is soooo cool, isn’t it?!

      My friend, separate from all this, it’s good to see you again. I’m sorry I didn’t reply directly to your first comment, but there was so much going on at the time! I hope you’ve been well. FYI, every time I see particularly snowy photos of Iceland, I think of you and the photos you once shared with me. Such amazing photos. Xoxo

  3. Oh, Kafka! Congratulations! What a marvellous way to start this of all years! And what a stellar puppy! All good things to both of you (and your family, of course).

  4. Congratulations on your new puppy. I’m sorry to hear about the passing of Emile Zola. He was a beautiful boy. I lost my own pup, Osiris right before Xmas so I understand your pain. Best of luck in the New Year and looking forward to reading more of your posts.

  5. If Sophocles is in the running then what about Derrida? I’m falling in love with the puppy pics. So adorable. Names are super important; in our house we’ve got: Nixie, Hedy Lamar, Mai’ha, Django, Dorbles, Ozni, Tinka, and Zorbiyiah, and Cedre’. They “fit” their names. I think they’re a form of magic.
    Whatever name you choose, I’m so happy for you and looking forward to the pics–a much happier 2021.

  6. I didn’t realize that Kafka had passed. I’m so sorry. Wishing you a happy new year with your new pup.

  7. This may be the only happy news I’ve read. Question- Would that be guy-oose or gay-oose …or maybe just marvel-oose! I can’t be the only one that goes silly at puppy pics.

  8. I’m happy for you that you’ll be receiving the puppy soon!

    My 4 years old son is crazy about dogs and he’s asking for one for over a year now. We’ve been telling him that he needs to grow a bit more so he can take care of him, because with a 4 years boy and a 1 year girl and work and managing the house there is no time left for us to take proper care of a dog.
    I will show these photos to him, surely he will like them

  9. Long time lurking, first time commenting. CONGRATULATIONS on your beautiful new baby!! Loving and caring for him will ease mourning for The Hairy German and bring untold new joy. I’m a decades-long labdanum and patchouli fiend, just purchased a Le Lion mini on your recommendation. I also have a vintage bottle of what I believe is the ‘70s Ylang-Ylang of your youth! It is yours (gift) if you’d like to have it…no guarantee as to how it’s held up.

  10. What AMAZING pictures!
    Ms Richards sounds like an extraordinary lady, truly.

    Isn’t it every good parent’s fear, that they won’t measure up? But they truly do in the end, when they have such boundless love, and seek out information.
    I cannot WAIT for ALL the puppy pics!!!

  11. The best news possible. I am so glad that you will have a little baby to love, and I know that you will be an excellent mother. He is sooooo adorable.

  12. Congratulations with the newcomer! German Shepherds are so beautiful! I think it was my favourite breed for a long because of the TV series “Inspector Rex” about the police dog with this name. Waiting for a puppy creates a very special excitement, I was overwhelmed when I got my dog ! It was the first dog in my life, I went to the breeder myself to pick him up and the first several days (or weeks?) I was not able to do anything else except for puppy watching. I wish I could keep records of the life of my dog as you did with yours. Now he is almost two years old and he is a very handsome and dear saluki boy.

  13. How I laughed: Troll von der bösen Nachbarschaft, indeed. The troll hailing from the badass neighbourhood! Oh, how very wicked 🙂 especially, as the sweet puppy seems anything but! He should be called Schnuffi, der Herzensbrecher!
    On to the felines: Le Lion. I think I mentioned it a few posts ago in the comment section, and yes: the day before yesterday I spilled 330 Euros cash (!!!) for the big bottle which is being delivered from Hamburg at theis very moment. Can’t wait, and am sniffing my wrists (small tester nearly empty) compulsively like an animal.

  14. Congratulation on your new pup. May I suggest “Saxo” he was a danish monk who wrote the history all german legends are founded on. A medieval philosopher. Gsds are the best. I will never own any other breed. My contemporary master is called Morgan and yes like the car I’ll never have.

  15. I know it’s going to be a great day when I start my morning with an update from your blog. But this has been the most riveting post with the arrival of Blue Camo Snuggle Bunny Philosopher to be. Congratulations on your decades long appreciations and culmination of passion and dedication. Time to sign up for twitter for the promised puppet pictures.

  16. I think you chose right. As a GSD person for decades now (but w. straight working lines), I would have chosen that guy too. Buying a dog is a crap shoot and I wish you the best with your puppy. After a lifetime of owning dogs, the one I spent the most on and the one that was the most well bred and the one whose breeder was the most involved in IPO and the most high profile person I ever bought a dog from was the one who turned out to be an absolute freakshow of a dog who was ultimately not safe to live with. I have heard a lot of good things about Alta Tollhaus and I know your dog will be gorgeous.

  17. If you listen carefully you will hear the happiest doink doink doink of Mrs. Merkel’s tail on the floor. What wonderful news, makes my day if not week. Mrs. Merkel would send the new German her favourite West Paw Zogoflex Tux, practically indestructable and never failing to make her happy (especially ofcourse finding it whenever I have hidden it for her) if we would live in the US! But I think West Paw toys are made in the US so you should be able to find it. Lutens, Dusita, Ensar and Amouage can all wait as far as I am concerned, as long as you regularly post pics, especially of his Lordship’s fat paws! Hugs and licks! p.s. I am wearing and loving Tasmeen, and Angela likes it too!

    • And another name suggestion for the philosopher…Baruch after Baruch Spinoza, one of the early thinkers of the Enlightenment.

  18. Many, MANY congratulations, my dearest K!

    It’s been the most wonderful end to 2020 to see you writing again, and this really is the most fabulous news you could share with us. A true blessing. VERY excited to see your beautiful new furry family member when he arrives, and I’m positively begging you to keep your extended network here updated too. The volume of comments above mine should reinforce that, yes, we are definitely interested in meeting and hearing about his Lordship!

    Reviews can wait, as long as we get regular updates on his Highness 😉

    And, I don’t need to say it, but you will be a wonderful parent to this little guy, as you were to Zola, and Kafka, too. I am foreseeing Kafkaesque family hat days, with your mother and father parading a variety of headwear, as you work on his socialization! He’s lucky to have you, and vice versa. Much, much love, my friend! Xxxx

  19. OMG, OMG, he is adorable!! I insist on being spammed here with puppy updates! Can we all be his honorary godparents? I was so sad to read the details of the loss of your last GSD, but what a happy start to 2021! The year is looking up already. And good for you, standing up to that bully breeder — it’s good to have a law degree oneself, isn’t it?

    As you like Le Lion so much, maybe you should name Baby Chonk “Leo”, lol. I look forward to more photos and, when you and Baby Chonk are ready, reviews. Happy New Year!

  20. Blue Camo is so beautiful. Wow! So excited for you. Please spam us with puppy pics every day. Reviews can wait for a year or so. Just concentrate on your new baby!

  21. German Shepherds are strong, confident and determined dogs. They are fearless protectors and loyal friends. Once the German Shepherd has recognized you as its master, it will always try to please you and fight to the death for you, and for this it has enough strength and determination. Thank you for the article.

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