I wanted to introduce you to my new child, the holy terror and infant delinquent called Apollo. He’s huge, he’s naughty, he’s defiant and unruly, he’s an agent of chaos that has turned my life (and house) upside down— and I love him.
I would love him far more, however, if he let me sleep more than an hour at a time and didn’t use my arm as a pin cushion for his cannibalistic tendencies. (The wild child is nicknamed “Jaws” for a reason!)
I promised you a photo deluge of puppy adoreableness, so get ready for the Tales of Apollo!
Apollo left Michigan on Thursday, January 7th, driven down by a puppy chauffeur service that transports dogs for the FBI, FEMA, prison services, and regular people like me. The cost was only a bit more than buying an airplane ticket to stick him in an airplane’s dangerous cargo hold, a place where a number of dogs have ended up dying. Apollo made the trip when he was 7 weeks and 4 days old, and he initially had a hang-dog expression about leaving his family and being stuck in a crate.
Apollo was the chonkiest chonk of his entire litter, but it turns out that Apollo is pretty giant by other standards. Even at 7-weeks-something, he was already significantly bigger than my late Kafka was at 8 weeks. And his paws were HUGE. Here he is getting microchipped with a family member of the breeder.
Apollo seemed to have a lot of fun on his cross-country trip, frolicking (and picking up fleas) in random forests off of the interstate. According to the updates I received along the way, he was sweet and a huge talker. (If I’d only known just how huge…)
Apollo arrived at my house at roughly 1:30 p.m. on Saturday, January 9th. He was initially wary of me before leaping forward into my arms and then biting my nose and drawing blood. Then biting my chin and drawing more blood. Little did I know that I was welcoming the German equivalent of a piranha into my arms because I’m telling you, this child is a cannibal with teeth like Jaws and, like Jaws, he likes to use them!
To be fair, I had expected Jaws. I’ve had dogs almost all my life, of all kinds, and German Shepherds in particular for decades. I just didn’t expect this angelic bundle to be quite so incredibly bloody thirsty.
But I’m getting ahead of myself in the tale. Apollo arrived Saturday and started his crate-training regimen — to which he loudly objected at maximum decibels and for hours on end.
I have opinions, lots and lots of opinions, and I don't hesitate to tell people.
— Apollo The GSD (@ApolloGsd) January 14, 2021
I was highly amused that the one time the naughty Agent of Chaos settled down on that first day was on my bed, which he promptly sprawled over and took over. I have never had a German Shepherd who didn’t consider my bed to be “his bed” and to appropriate it entirely. This puppy was in his new home for 2 hours and the first and only time he calmed down was to sprawl horizontally across my bed. Then, like all “Velcro Dogs,” as German Shepherds are nicknamed, he decided he needed to stick himself like glue to my side and took a nap. It was his German signal of acceptance. GSDs only velcro themselves to you if they’ve accepted you as their family to protect and guard forever and ever.
Master Apollo has been…difficult. That’s to put it mildly. I’ve trained four German Shepherds at this point, all from working lines, and numerous other dog breeds as well but I have never encountered a pup like this holy terror. He doesn’t listen to a single one of the standard training rules, and he thinks “NO!” is a challenge and thing to defy. Like Jeffrey Dahmer, he prefers human flesh, ideally my arm, but he’ll settle for my feet, my chin, my ear, my nose, my hair, or any body part that he can sink his razor-sharp blades into.
When he bites into my arm (which looks like a war zone now), I do the standard thing of yipping, gently removing my arm, giving him an approved toy, and praising him if he puts his teeth on it. What does Apollo do then? Spit out the toy and lunge for my body. So I turn my back on him, or put him in a crate, or leave the room… something, anything, but no, Apollo doesn’t care for your chastisements or rules. Phoooey to you, he has flesh he wants to devour!
Apollo also likes to devour everything else. Cable wires are his favourite, then any shoes he can find, the cord for the drapes, Kleenex, parts of his soft crate, and various expensive one-of-a-kind, hand-made, rare Persian carpets. He particularly likes to poo on the Persian carpets because Apollo, unlike any of my 20 other dogs, will apparently learn crate-training pooing on his own terms. (Dear god.) To be fair to him, he’s on a raw diet which takes longer to metabolize and release, so none of the usual rules about dogs pooing 15-20 minutes after a meal seem to apply. He may need 6 hours, 8 hours, or longer, and I have no warning, so the priceless Persian carpets it is…. (*sob*)
Apollo has totally taken over the family. In less than 48 hours, he totally took over my father’s lap.
Apollo is not normal in other ways. At just under 8 weeks, he was already almost twice the size of the late Kafka. At just under 8 weeks and most definitely at 8 weeks 2 days, he was significantly larger than the late Zola at 12 and 14 weeks. When we went to the vet, Apollo was 21 pounds at 8 weeks and 2 days— and this was after he’d lost about 5 pounds (!) and all his puppy belly from being a finicky eater. In other words, he’s a MONSTER in size!
My vet didn’t think Apollo was typical, either. Dr. Hennessey is — in my completely biased opinion but also in the unbiased opinion of others— one of the very best vets in the entire city. People drive from miles around and other cities to see him. He’s dealt with 2 of my prior German Shepherds and he was the first person I trusted Apollo with. His assessment: “this is the cockiest, most confident German Shepherd I’ve seen.” He detailed (by phone) how Apollo was drawing blood on the vet tech, how he refused to respond to the word “NO!” and simply bit further, and how I need to establish further dominance. Which I knew already, although I will only do it via positive reinforcement. (That said, I have just filled up a large water squirt bottle to spray in the Holy Terror’s face or chest the next time he decides his teething pains require my flesh.)
I’ll admit, I haven’t yet bonded with Apollo the way I immediately did with all my prior GSDS, but that may be because I’m so tired and because he’s like a monster newborn who requires 24/7 attention. Everything I do fails with him. That’s the honest truth. For example, I gave him his first bath the other day but I wanted to make it a positive and non-traumatic experience for him, so I sat in the bath clothed with him and gently massaged him through the shampoo-ing, softly lapping warm water over his back. Oh, the indignation and OUTRAGE at the bath! It did not end! Have you heard a highly opinionated German Shepherd complaining for 40 minutes nonstop??
Vociferous grumbling notwithstanding, the Wonky German Shepherd Ears become even wonkier and more adorable when wet.
Apollo is a whirlwind in other ways. He pulled my dad’s shoelaces to the point that my dad tripped and fell head over heels while walking him, luckily on grass, not concrete. He stole my mother’s slippers and led her a merry chase around their kitchen counter for a full 8 to 10 minutes. He has discovered the joys of shredding Kleenex, and no waste paper basket is now safe. (In fact, he seems to view shredding and chewing as a blood sport worthy of the Olympics, with human chewing as worthy of the Gods and the Gold.) He has eaten 2 shoes, 1 phone cable recharging wire, part of the bannister, ripped a 1 inch gash in my duvet cover, eaten one part of my carpet runner before peeing on the other half, and have I mentioned the Persian carpet pooing situation yet???
I dearly love Apollo.
I would also dearly love to have more than 3 hours sleep in 20 minute increments over 48 hours and to not to have my arm, nose, chin, and other parts bleeding from the canine equivalent of Jeffrey Dahmer.
So, I’ll confess, I’ve never missed Zola more. He, like Kafka (Rex, Mr. Chow, Ricky, et al.) learnt crate-training within 3 days (MAX!), and they followed all the rules and learnt all the training immediately.
But now I’ve somehow ended up with the German Shepherd of “F*U*. I love you, I love you lots, but let me chew on you because I’m totally immune to every rule and training standard available.”
Honestly, he’s magnificent— but I’m so incredibly exhausted. So exhausted.
That said, it’s amazing how the Hound of Hell can turn into a total marshmallow with just a few cuddles. Apollo may not have liked his bath, but he certainly appreciated all the cuddles afterwards.
My breeder has been amazing. Julie Richards of Alta-Tollhaus German Shepherds texted me every day to see how I was managing until she had to go into the hospital for a surgical procedure. She offered to pay for four Zoom classes with a positive-reinforcement-based trainer that she’d found in my city to help with Apollo’s issues. She also connected me to a dog trainer who had two prior Alta-Tollhaus GSDs and also got a female litter mate of Apollo’s, for a total of three A/T GSDs in one go! This lovely lady called me from Arkansas to talk to me about how to get Apollo from attacking my feet or howling at the moon while crate-trained.
I was so touched. I’ve never had a breeder care so much. I mean, my god, she was in the hospital and texting me post-surgery to see how the Monster Child was behaving! There are breeders and then there are BREEEEEEDERS! And Julie Richards of Alta Tollhaus German Shepherds is really in a class all by herself.
I’ve been trying to write this post while being gnawed upon and then, when I put the Greek God Tyrant into his crate, through the shrillest howling (even through ear plugs). I’m sure I’ve been incoherent and made typos galore. Frankly, I’m so sleep deprived at this point and so exhausted that I’m just going to have a glass of wine and end this here, even if I’m not making any coherent sense. If you want to follow Apollo’s shenanigans, he has a twitter account at
I promise you, I’ll return to perfumery, reviews, Chanel, Dusita, Ensar Oud, Serge Lutens et al., just as soon as I get some sleep and am no longer being eaten alive by a painfully teething puppy who makes Jaws seem like an angelic kitten.
In the meantime, have you EVER seen a more beautiful German Shepherd than my huge, little, monster-sized Greek God?