Often in conversations with breeders we talk about this trait or that trait being common in one line or another; however, I think we sometimes would like to take all the credit for what the breed has already provided to us. While it is true that our dog's personalities may be influenced by their surroundings and how we raise, socialize and train them, the basic Boxer's foundation was laid years before we had the opportunity to really present any outside influences. As breeders we may often fall pray to kennel blindness and close our eyes too quickly to the boxers outside our own world. Recently my eyes were open and guided by an "original", a free soul, a rescue Boxer we called George.
One Saturday morning I received a call from one of our local animal clinic. They advised me a call had been made to them about a Boxer found running loose in another area of town. The dog had been picked up by some caring people who were advised by the clinic about our Rescue Program. Since Tracy was out of town at dog shows that weekend, my name was the next on the list to contact for assistance. I made arrangements with his rescuers and picked "George" up and brought him home to our Boxer domain. George is a plain fawn dog with uncropped ears. I would estimate his age between 3 and four years. He had not done without at least some basic care. He seemed fit, his coat tight and smooth and the overall look of a relatively healthy dog. George certainly did not represent the majority of the poor creatures who come through our rescue program. With five boxers of my own (4 dogs and 1 bitch) he was gradually introduced into the routine of the Gilbert household. As this introduction proceeded I began to observe boxer characteristics I felt sure were indigenous to my own boxers. After all they were raised with a great deal of love and attention. It was impossible that this dog could be so like my beautiful brood but the cold fact hit me square in the face, George may have lacked an impressive pedigree but he was indeed Boxer through and through. It was at that point I fell in love with our breed all over again. George possessed the merry personality, gentle disposition and huge capacity for love just like his new blue-blooded companions. What he lacked in pedigree became unimportant, what he represented to the breed was!
You may wonder why we called him George. It was obvious after just a few hours in our home that this dog was a loveable soul and like the old Warner Brothers cartoon where a huge hairy creature clutches Daffy Duck, dressed in a bunny costume, to his breast and announces, "I'm going to hug him, and love him, and squeeze him and call him George", we found ourselves hugging and squeezing this dog to our hearts. George it was! Our breed could not ask for a diplomat better suited to represent our breed's most important characteristic, the ability to love and be loved.
George spent the next five weeks in our home waiting at first for some sign of his original owners and then recovering from being neutered and heartworm treatments. Again his capacity to adapt was remarkable. His only bad habit was the strong desire to "visit" the neighborhood children, especially girls. George was an escape artist par excellence. He became quite a challenge to us in trying to second-guess his next avenue of escape from the confines of our backyard. George proved our yard was not escape proof and I am sure this escape quality did not endear him to his previous owners. No doubt this was the main reason for his falling into our hands. A difficult problem yes, but not impossible to solve. We tried two placements before screening and serious lectures on how to keep this dog in control with perspective new owners finally paid off. George now lives with a new family, with children and adults, who will, without a doubt, provide the home he so richly deserves.
Boxer Rescue is not for everyone. The choices we must make concerning some of these lost or forsaken souls are not always easy. A dog like George; however, makes things right and puts our heads as well as our hearts in the right perspective. For those of you who love the breed, but are reluctant about rescue, let a "George" come into your life. No matter how short the time you spend with this spirit, your life and the breed will be richer for it.
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