It was Saturday, March 18th, 2017, and I was at work (I am a 9-1-1 Telecommunicator) when we received a call from a male stating he needed animal control for an extremely large German Shepherd. Animal control does not work on the weekend in our county unless there is an emergency. The gentleman was told this and he began to explain to my co-worker what the problem was.
He had a German Shepherd in an airline crate carrier that he was not able to get out due to the dog’s aggressiveness. We do not ever refuse a person an officer, so I had the Sergeant on duty, who is also a K-9 handler/trainer, respond to the call.
I have always loved dogs and people have told me I have a special way with them. I have had German Shepherds most of my adult life, and my ex-husband was a K-9 handler, so I have an understanding for police dogs.
I asked the Sergeant if he would go up there and at least help this guy get the dog out of the crate. It had been in this crate for over 24 hours! He said he would go. However, first, I asked him if it was something he thought I could handle. If so, I would take the dog, because the original caller did not want to keep him.
After a couple hours, the Sergeant called back and tells me he thinks I need to come look at the dog. He was able to get him out of the crate, but that was about all.
The dog was very aggressive, but had a muzzle on, so he had no way of biting. He stayed out there for a little bit and he was able to tie him to a tree. When the Sergeant calls me back in he tells me that this is a 150lb, massive alpha male, that had been neutered already — so I begin to think I should probably take someone with me when I get off work to look at this pup. The sergeant tells me no, that I need to go alone. At that point, I wasn’t sure what to think, especially when his next words are, “I think y’all will be a good fit together”. He also said “If you don’t take him, then I will recommend this dog be put-down (euthanized), because of his aggressiveness.
After working 12 hours, I left work and made my way to meet this beast. I am a bit nervous. One, because I don’t normally go to people’s houses that call in for service, and two, because two males have not been able to get close to this dog. I pull into this very nice neighborhood with huge houses and find the house. The gentleman meets me outside and we go around back to where the dog is.
When my Sergeant told me 150 lbs, I thought he was probably exaggerating; it seems a bit excessive. When I laid eyes on him and he stood up, in that moment I realized just how massive he is. This dog comes to my hip and is every bit of 150 lbs. He still has the muzzle on and hasn’t barked at me yet at this point. The guy is afraid to even walk near the dog. I made my way over, sat down in the grass, and began talking to the dog.
Slowly I began to throw treats to him and inch closer. After about 10 minutes, he was taking treats from my hand and also obeying my commands — everything from sit, down (which is very submissive for such an alpha dog), and shake. So I slipped my leash on him and he stood right by my side. The guy that had originally called was in amazement. He said the dog had done a complete 360 since the Sergeant was there that morning.
Well, “Brennus” and I had a long conversation about his options — he could either go with me or they were going to euthanize him. Shortly after, in a wonderful moment, he jumped right up in my vehicle and was even letting me pet him! He also did fine that night at home. I had to work the next day — I decided to take him to work with me so he would not be home alone for 12 hours or forget who I was. Everyone at work wanted to meet him, so after a couple hours I got him out and brought him inside.
From that point, no one could get near either one of us. If someone walked toward me, he would lunge and bark, ready to attack. Brennus would listen to me give him commands but no one else. No one could even walk near my vehicle with him in it without him trying to attack them. His muzzle stayed on for about a week (he was still able to eat and drink with it on). He would start rubbing on my leg trying to get it off.
It has taken a whole lot of patience and understanding with him. After about two months, I was finally able to get all of his records from the trainer. Come to find out he had been in training near Virginia Beach, VA. He was a “bite” dog (meaning he had bit people before), however, his trainer was a female. Now it made sense why he was listening to me. The original owner that took him to the training facility did not want him back, and the former female trainer was not able to keep him. After a couple months, a rescue was able to place him. Evidently once he got to the people that were adopting him, they realized how strong of a personality he has, and were not able to handle him — so he ended up back with me again.
Brennus will be 4-years-old this September. Unfortunately, he has not had the best life from what I have read in the 2-inch thick folder containing all of his history. The previous owners took care of him, however, they kept him on all sorts of medications to try to suppress the aggressiveness. There are notes in his records from the vet stating he was scheduled for euthanization and cremation because of it.
We have came a long way since March, but we still have a long way to go. Brennus is a one-owner kind of dog and very protective. The funny thing is, as big and mean as he appears to be, he loves stuffed toys. And in just the past month he has begun laying down, then rolling over for me to scratch his belly 🙂
Brennus is like no other German Shepherd I’ve had before. My dogs are my kids — and I believe he was sent to me for a reason, or maybe I was sent to him. Either way, we have learned a lot from each other — and most importantly, along the way, we’e developed a bond of love and trust that has been earned.
I could probably go on and on about him and all he’s been through. In the end, much like humans often times do, Brennus deserves a chance to not be judged on his past.