Shotz was born on December 2, 1994, at Skansen Kennels, Sebastopol, California. Sire: Ch. Skansen’s My Dreamboat. Dam: Skansen’s Prowler. She was number five in a litter of six: four males and two females, born in that order. Her eldest brother, Scorpio, went to Japan, with the three remaining males placed in families in California, Florida, and Ohio. Shotz’s youngest and only sister went to New Jersey, and she, of course, to us. The moment I lifted her into my arms, I fell in love. She changed my life forever, and for the better—although during the first two years, I certainly had my doubts.
Before I continue, let me state that I am not an authority on the giant schnauzer breed, having owned only two so far. However, I have experienced the physical, emotional, and mental demands of the breed, and all should be carefully considered before purchasing or rescuing a giant.
I’ve owned dogs before Shotz, but none were like her. My neighbor called her Wild Child, and she lived up to the name in every way. For the first two years, I wondered if I would survive. Frankly, she wore me out. Sylvia, who owns Skansen Kennels, told me Shotz was just a puppy and to expect her to sleep quite a bit. Sleep? I kept asking myself—when?
For the first two weeks, she cried and howled most of the night, so I assumed that after a restless night, she would sleep during the day like I was dying to do. Not a chance. Up at the crack of dawn, she was ready to face the day with puppy bliss: eager to explore her backyard, dig, stir up mischief, and swim in the pool.
When she was older, we walked at least two miles every morning on the trails at Bear Creek Park in Keller where we lived. After our walks, especially in the heat of a Texas summer, I wanted nothing more than a long cold drink and a nap, but not her. She would look at me with those big, brown, soulful eyes and I could almost hear her say, “Okay, what’s next on the agenda?”
There are all kinds of nicknames for the breed, and they all hold true. Giants are Velcro dogs, sticking to you as the name suggests. After all, they are there to love and protect you, and they can’t do either from afar. So throwing them out into the backyard and ignoring them is detrimental to both them and you. They expect you to share yourself (mostly your time and attention) with them and can be quite demanding, even pushy, about getting what they want when they want it.
Do you expect privacy when you head to the bathroom? Give up this expectation if you own a giant. Shotz used to rest her head on my knees while I conducted my business. They have other endearing qualities as well, ones not all prospective dog owners would find appealing: they are bed hogs, they like to counter surf, they drink water from your refrigerator, they open cabinets to help themselves to whatever they desire . . . the list goes on. If none of these antics deter you, and you can actually see the humor in some of this behavior, then perhaps a giant is right for you. Perhaps.
Giants are not for everyone, and no statement could be truer. Unfortunately, many end up in rescue because “this dog is just too much” for a novice giant owner. But this is Shotz’s story, and she did not end up in rescue but went on to live a long life in one home with loving, caring owners who denied her nothing most of the time. And she would live to be fourteen and a half years old.
Next week: “Shotz: Part 2 – My New Giant Puppy.”