I grew up in a family full of Miniature Schnauzers. My mom and dad were the first to introduce Schnapps, a little schnauzer pup, to our extended family, and the breed sure caught on quick… Eventually, both sets of grandparents as well as my aunt and uncle all got miniature schnauzers for furry companions. My aunt is still a mini schnauzer supporter, rescuing countless dogs from abusive puppy mills in PA. Seriously, the patience, love and care she lends these scared pups is truly inspirational. Check out where she volunteers, and what you can do to help puppy mill and shelter dogs at MLAR.org.
Below is my childhood buddy, Jagr (“yah-gur”), who took Schnapps’ place when he went to dog heaven. Jagr was named after Jaromir Jagr, who at the time was a Pittsburgh Penguin with long, black curly hair, just like our pup did! (My mom is a Pittsburgh native, so although my family is from the Philly area, we tend to root for the Pittsburgh teams.)
Enter Gunner, our current German Shorthaired Pointer. And by “our,” I mean my brother’s dog. Gunny was his college graduation present. He and my dad did a ton of research to figure out a sporting breed that would fit my brother’s active lifestyle, and the GSP fit best. My dad had a GSP, Rocky, growing up who he fell in love with for his loyalty and hunting instincts. So he suggested that Pat look into the breed. Pat loves hunting in his free time, but he works long hours, so I was fortunate to have Gunner stay at the family home while Pat is away.
It’s hilarious how attached Gunner is to Pat. If Pat’s not around, he literally sulks and pouts until he gets home. My dad and I feed Gunny, take him out, give him treats, play with him, snuggle with him, etc., but as soon as Pat walks through the door, he cries with happiness and pretends like my dad and I don’t even exist. yeesh! Nonetheless, I still love how cool this dog is. He’s so regal and photogenic, in case you couldn’t tell from my Instagram pix 😉
German Shorthaired Pointers are known to be high energy dogs, but Gunner is the perfect temperament for our active lifestyles. He constantly wants to go outside to exhaust his energy pointing mice/birds/anything that moves, but he can also snooze all day and store up his energy for his regular “walkie-walks” through Marsh Creek State Park. Gunner also listens very well. My dad should be a certified dog trainer, but GSPs are also instinctively obedient. We bribed him during training with small bits of cheese, and he’s been a spoiled prince ever since…he still turns up his nose at your average dog treat. At least I can still get a paw-shake and a half roll-over when I take out the cheese to make sandwiches at lunchtime 🙂
Although Gunner’s #1 is Pat, he is still very loyal to me. He is such a neat companion, I can’t even express it in words! He simply looks at you when you walk past his bed, and you know that you two have a connection. I loved having Jagr as a little dog, but after living with Gunner, I’m definitely more of a big dog person. It’s hilarious because even Gunner’s physique is just like our family’s: tall, lanky and athletic. Haha he’s such a great fit.
I did some research of my own for this post, and found out that GSPs are the 12th most popular breed according to the AKC. They are known for being versatile hunting dogs, and they are friendly, smart, and eager to please. They’re generally a healthy breed, but they do shed A LOT! The short hair sticks to just about anything…as an article on Woofipedia put it, “No clothing color is safe. Black pants? We’ve got white hair for that. White shirt? Have some short brown hairs! Carpet? You get a little of everything.” GSPs are medium sized dogs, but they have super-sized energy. They thrive on exercise, and they’ll run til they just can’t run no more! They do need certain food for their unique digestive track depending on what phase in life they’re at. GSPs also have very large chests. We place Gunner’s food and water on a wire rack up off of the floor, so that food and water get caught less often while traveling the long road from his throat to his stomach. Overall, GSPs are outdoor lovers. Gunny is always happiest when he’s outside, no matter the weather. They’re proficient at trailing, retrieving and pointing a variety of birds, rodents, and even deer.
GSPs are great dogs, but long story short, always do your research to make sure a dog’s temperament fits with your lifestyle. It’s fine if you’re pursuing a reputable breeder, but please do not support puppy mills by purchasing a dog from them. It may seem like you’re “saving” the pup from inhumane conditions, but you’re really supporting the system. You’d be surprised by the amazing dogs waiting for love at rescues and shelters. Millions of shelter dogs are waiting to be adopted into a loving home, so please try to “adopt, don’t shop.”