Say Hello To… APOLLO!

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 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’s ears went up earlier than expected. Well, one of them did at least. 8 weeks and 2 days in, one ear went totally up, like a “satellite dish” as my father put it. It’s painfully adorable.

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

@ApolloGSD
https://twitter.com/ApolloGsd/status/1351615820179374081?s=20

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?

 

34 thoughts on “Say Hello To… APOLLO!

  1. Hello Kafkaesque, Apollo is adorable, even if he is loud and free with his teeth. I am sure you will figure out his training. He has a knowing look on his little face, though. We will be happy to wait for your reviews later, when your arms have healed. Best to you and Apollo!

  2. Having had GSDs myself in the past, dear Apollo is HUGE. I’m wishing you lots of happiness once he settles down? I, on the other hand, am waiting for a miniature long haired dachshund puppy. After reading your trials and tribulations, I hope I am up to the task with the little one. Its been seven years since my last puppy.

    • He is a total BEAST, isn’t he? Dear god, he’s wiped me out. I’ve never felt decrepit until now. How I’m going to train and socialize him daily, non-stop, for 8 months during a pandemic, I have no idea. At this point, I just want 4 hours of sleep a night!

      Tell me about your future girl or boy. How long will it be, do you think? Are you high on a wait list? I’ve read that long-haired Dachshunds are a wee bit mellower than the short hairs. Do you think that is true or accurate?

  3. Beautiful and vibrant creature. Apollo is so full of life and passion, a dog who just goes for it and lives. I get the lack of sleep, noise, blood and chaos. But, he will mature and what a wonderful blessing such a beautiful and deep soul it is you have taken into your life and heart. I cannot wait to see how Apollo develops. Look, you give fragrances time to develop, now you have Apollo. How will he be after the hours pass, and you see his depth and facets. Until then, good luck with the sleep.

  4. I’m so happy to see that you have such an adorable, um, challenge on your hands now! He really is magnificent. Those ears, those paws, those big eyes…

    That lack of sleep will do any human in. I honest-to-God have no idea how I survived the first eight months of my daughter’s life. How either one of us survived, for that matter.

    But you and Apollo will. You’ll persevere, and he’ll thrive, and we’ll get to see photographic proof. Best wishes to you both.

    • Thank you, my dear. I hope you and your loved ones managed to get through the chaos, wretchedness, and surrealness of 2020 and that you’ve all been safe and healthy. Happy 2021! May it be a much better year for us all!

  5. Your description of battling your beautiful little tyrant is hilarious. I just love all the photos. Oh my – what enormous paws big boy has! With those seductive, probing eyes, Apollo’s smart and dueling just for fun of it.
    Because you love each other, I bet it’ll work out fine… a few years from now 🙂
    Congratulations!

  6. He is super cute, totally adorable, but I could not handle a dog like that. I’ve done well to train a few docile Italian greyhounds. They have their naughty moments, but they never chewed on me, just the sofa, 2 pieces of furniture and turned over a few trashcans. LOL I’m sure he will take to the training in a year or two….. Just kidding.

    • Darling, at this point, I can’t handle him either. I haven’t been so tired and sleep deprived in years. He keeps me up when in the crate by singing like Pavarotti. And it’s worse when having to watch him every waking minute out of the crate to preempt any destruction he might cause…

      I’m so tired. *sob* He better snap out of this in 2 months when his bladder grows bigger and, hopefully, his teething stops.

  7. What a gorgeous bundle of trouble! He will be absolutely magnificent when he grows up. Looks like you have scored a real prince here. I hope you don’t mind a bit of unasked-for advice – with the biting, something I learned from rehabilitating a couple of badly damaged rescues who were complete terrors – when a human ‘NO’ doesn’t work, you have to ‘talk’ dog. When Mama dog is sick of puppies biting, she’ll ‘bite’ their nose and pin them to the ground until they call uncle, then wash their face. Combined deterrence and dominance. I know it goes against the positive reinforcement model, but you may have to ‘speak’ his own language and bite his nose to show him you’re the Boss before he’ll learn his manners. Fortunately, as a human with opposable thumbs, you can use your hand to ‘bite’. When he bites, grab his snout, tell him NO and pin him to the ground until he stops wriggling – then pat/wash his face both as a show of mama-style dominance and a reward for submission. Honestly, this one really works. Your little boy obviously thinks he’s King of the Castle, but I’d be willing to bet once you pull rank – in a language he understands – the rest will fall into place. Gook luck with it all!

    • Omg, no, I welcome this advice and thank you most profusely! As of this afternoon, I actually started to bite him back! Not kidding. Small nips on the scruff of his neck when he bites me or a little nip on his nose. Then I walk away.

      I figure litter mates bite to establish boundaries when horse play goes too far, so a nip on the scruff of the neck like a Mama Dog does when really fed up might have the same effect.

      It’s early days yet, but I will try than pinning/washing face thing if my scruff nibbles don’t work.

      Thank you SOOOOO much for the tip and suggestion! My bleeding arms, ankle, feet, nose, lip, and toes thank you most appreciatively! ♥️

  8. Sounds like the beginnings of a beautiful friendship! I really enjoyed your descriptions and photos and all of the love that shines through.

  9. Your pictures brought me so much joy – he looks like my most beloved GSD we got when I was 12. I suspect he’ll be completely magnificent when he’s older but it sounds like a trial right now, and extended sleep deprivation is the worst because it’s so hard to stay positive and patient when you’re exhausted. It will pass! Though maybe buy some gauntlets and a fencing mask in the meantime…

  10. Oh how I wish we could speak on the phone. We have raised Mrs. Merkel according to the best ‘dog child raising’ method (I believe) exists, sadly not so well known. Our dog ‘trainer’ (he wouldn’t want to be called as such) with an impressive scientific background, carefully developed this method, after years and years of observing how female dogs raise their pups. Sadly he died last year, but his method has been extensively published, in Dutch…Shortly: Apollo shows perfectly normal pup behaviour! By being so ‘obnoxious’ he is testing you all the time to check if he can really really trust you. Pooing is normal, and actually a huge compliment! Sounds wacko, but wolves only poo if they feel safe. He is making himself at home! Just remove. It will pass. I have little time to elaborate, if you wish me to send me a mail! Lots of hugs! Remember he is just a baby!

  11. What an adorable pictures and a lot of work ahead;) I am a cat person and love Siameze cats which are also a bit doggy like and they ruined the couch and a lot of other things but no comparison to your Apollo. Stay strong and ferm and hopefully things will change soon.

  12. Oh hush! You love it and you know it!!! This was the perfect lil’ guy for you!!! You don’t need pesky shoe laces anyhow!!! Bern had GSD’s before we had Bulldogs, and he is in love with Apollo! He can’t even stand to look at him, he’s so smitten! Thank god we live in a condo, with no yard, in Florida, or he’d want to go back to them. Just get lots of velcro time in, the rest will sort itself out. What an adorable schnookems Apollo is! Perfume can wait, bonding can’t. xxxxx ooooo 🙂

  13. Hmm. Did he act this way with the breeder? Could it be separation anxiety and confusion? May I suggest homeopathy for dogs-an excellent book by British vet “Homeopathic Medicine for Dogs: A Handbook for Vets and Pet Owners by H.G. Wolff, MVSC. This does sound like an emotional issue and he is too young to do anything but react instinctively. In the book under Nervous System/Behavioral Disorders/Fear/Anxiety there is an excellent overview of symptoms and their remedies on p. 119. Reading it, I recognize what you are describing. This book is worth its weight in gold and covers many issues dog owners can remedy themselves.

  14. I had missed your return to blogging, but some crazy instinct made me check your blog today. For Apollo!!! What joy!! OK, I truly love your perfume blogging (and you’ve saved my nose from multiple brutal assaults by giving us fair warning), but German Shepherds….honestly, I can’t get enough of these photos or stories. I grew up with German Shepherds and our first one was named Apollo. He owned me. I never had human children (by choice), as my husband and I decided to devote ourselves entirely to fur children. However, due to many moves and my husband’s reluctance to have a large dog, we never have had a German Shepherd. That, frankly, breaks my heart. I am, consequently, totally entranced by your new child. Looking forward to much more. But…Kafka. I’m so terribly sorry – a completely inadequate statement for something where there simply aren’t words.

  15. He is The Chonk above all chonks! Those paws! I wish you all good luck with your puppy training, he’ll need a firm hand. But he may end up as your most devoted GSD yet, with that strong personality! I loved the photos of his journey, the “chauffeur” looked pretty smitten too. Thank you for sharing his arrival and cute photos!

  16. I’m very happy that Apollo found you,
    for he’s with someone that will give him all the love he needs.
    In the years to come , and with all the joys and difficulties that will be,
    Apollo will be there at your side , like you were with him.
    Apollo’s nose is very large .
    Like in Jaws , but in regards to here ,
    ” You’re gonna need a bigger bed ” .
    best wishes to you and your family , and now Apollo.
    eddie.

Leave a reply. Discussion and respectful debate are encouraged. Polite disagreement is fine, but personal attacks will be subject to deletion.