Remy the Hovawart at 11 years old—"Remy is now 15 years old. He has lost most of his hearing, is losing his sight (especially in in left eye), and has bad hips. Yet he still tries walking up and down the stairs. He used to bark at passing people a lot but now that he has lost his hearing, he barks 5 minutes later when he smells them. He also barks when someone leaves the house now. He gets along with dogs smaller than him and is timid around those larger. He gets along with cats and other small animals. He gets along with children of all ages and is very loyal."
"This is a picture of our Angel. I have an unusual story of how we met that I would like to share. When I was a young girl, we had a Golden Retriever / Lab mix; we called him Zeke. My younger brother owned him first, as a puppy. My older brother had a yellow Lab; he was a Champion of Champions, hunting on the field, in the water and at the field trials. Zeke and the yellow were very good friends. My father and little brother tried to teach Zeke to retrieve, but they were not successful. After some time, I asked if I could have Zeke for my own. I could train him. They let me keep him. I taught Zeke to be a well-mannered dog in the house. I taught him obedience and good citizenship, without knowing there was even a word for it. I wanted to prove that Zeke was a good dog; that he could learn other things, although not wanting to retrieve."
"About a year later, my little brother got an American champion bloodline black Labrador; he was a young puppy. Zeke and the puppy had to share a kennel and dog house, and the puppy proved to be too much for Zeke. He would get mad at the puppy and be pretty aggressive toward him. My dad and younger brother were afraid Zeke would hurt the pup. So I was forced to give him away. My heart was broken, but I did it. I found a wonderful young family that lived on a farm in the country. Zeke loved this young couple right away. I knew Zeke went to an excellent home, but my heart remained broken for a long time. I loved Zeke and missed him very much.
"I grew up, married, had children, and realized that my children seemed to be afraid of dogs. Well, the best way to fix that is to get one. We lived in an area that would not allow large dogs, so a friend gave us one of his litter of Lhasa Apso puppies. Not big at all. Four children grew up loving that little "Tinker Jingle." During this time, I had become an avid collector of Angels. The little Lhasa died of cancer 11 years later. The kids and I loved that silly little guy very much and missed him. We moved to a larger house with a big fenced yard. I was still collecting Angels.
"I was wanting another dog. I wanted something different; we always had males, I wanted a female. I decided I wanted a large dog again. I wanted a challenge, too, but not a hunting dog. I was trying to narrow my choices and make a decision. I studied the non-hunting large breeds and tried to match the breed to my family and environment. We have a large cat with an attitude. I had to consider her needs in a large canine friend. I wanted ???? I just didn't know. After calling about a Border Collie that sounded very promising, I asked if the dog would be willing to share a sunny spot in my living room with a sassy cat? "No! This dog is a cat killer!"
"So I continued to scan the local paper. One day, I came across an ad for "Hovawart" puppies. I thought that was a funny name. So I called the number; it was about a two-hour drive from our home. Our daughter attended college at this same town, so we were accustomed to the drive. As I spoke to the lady, I discovered we shared the same first name, and she was very nice. I asked her what she did for a living and when she told me, I was stunned, because I had a passion for that nonprofit type of work. She did not seem "pushy" that I take a puppy, in fact, just the opposite. She told me to look up the breed on the web. She had the mother and father at home with her. She asked if we were experienced dog handlers. I was.... I discussed this with my husband and we went to the computer. The first picture that I saw was my Zeke. I burst into tears. It was actually a blonde Hovawart. I had to see the puppies.
"My husband was starting to get cold feet over the whole thing. He never really grew up with dogs. He considered himself a cat person. But I managed to change his mind. When we arrived at this home out in the country, we received a warm welcome. The children opened the door to the puppy room. Out came this beautiful black and tan Hovawart mother. She was a love. She came over to me and we bonded right away. Then came the puppies! There were six little balls of bellies and bladders! Three were black and tan and three were blonde, like their father. I eventually asked to the see the father, too. They scooted the mom back into the puppy room. The blonde father came into the house. He was magnificent. He approached each of us with the intent to greet us. He was beautiful. Daddy was extremely careful not to step on the babies. I was so impressed with his massive gentleness with the pups. The father went back outside, and the mother came gingerly back into the room, inspecting her babies. They were all very fine. I announced that we should like to have a female. There were only two females, both black and tan. The one female's name was Angel. My heart literally leapt, when I heard that; this seemed to be such a list of coincidences that seemed to keep growing. But upon observing the puppies, I noted that Angel was a little sassy pants. The other female was more docile; she paid attention to us. Angel ran under the dining room table and squatted. Then she was off to tackle a big brother. Which she did! My mind turned from Angel to the other female. We decided to take the quieter female.
"As we sat across the room from each other, the lady asked if we were related to the (Family Name) from northern Minnesota. We were stunned...yes, that is my husband's grandfather! The lady announced her maiden name to us. She remembered sitting next to my husband at the picnic table, in the yard of his grandfather's farm, back in 1978! They were cousins! What a sequence of coincidences! Certainly, we were getting a Hovawart!
We brought a little pink collar for our Hovi Girl. They were still too young to leave their sweet momma. So we decided in two weeks we would be back. During the following week, there was an older couple from several hundreds of miles away that had stopped in to get a female puppy. It was a little early, but since they traveled so far, it was decided to allow them their puppy. They wanted to take a group picture of the little family, so they gathered all the puppies, including the one they had secluded from their choice, our little Hovi Girl. In the rush of gathering the little ones for the picture and the little bladders starting to let go...the older lady gathered up little Hovi Girl in her blanket, while her husband paid the set price. The owners were busy cleaning up puppy poo and getting the little rascals back into their play area. Two hours later, they realized the mistake. They waited until the older couple had stopped for the night, still on the road, and were able to reach them. But they had traveled many, many miles and would not be turning around. Their little Hovi Girl and they had bonded. She went on to Montana to live her life on a big ranch. I know she is resting on their front porch, watching over the livestock and her beloved family. Hovi Girl did go to a wonderful home.
"Our newly found cousin called me when there was no other choice to break the news to me. They tried their best to offer the older couple a drive halfway for a puppy exchange. But they loved their little girl and would not be doing that.... So I received my phone call.... I was shocked, as you might have guessed. She explained everything to me, but I was still devastated. My husband and I talked. I explained to him, how my heart had literally leapt, upon hearing the name of Angel, but my mind deciding otherwise. They told me that Angel was their favorite puppy. She was the first to greet them at the puppy door; she was the first to the water dish, when they were learning to drink from a dish. They told me she was the smartest of all the other puppies. I said, I know...Angel is the alpha. She is the most challenging, too. But then a small, still voice said to my heart, "but you asked for a challenge." I believe at that moment, Angel noticed us, she noticed me. We began to bond.
"That was four years ago. I believe we were meant for each other. We visit Angel's first family from time to time, and she enjoys the visits. She shares a sunny spot in the living room with Little Miss Attitude. She has learned to lie very still; our pet bunny will run right over her (to the cat, the bunny loves Little Miss Attitude!) Angel is the most devoted and loving dog I have ever had the pleasure of knowing. Angel is highly intelligent. She is the dog that, if you are lucky, you chance once in a lifetime. I believe she is a friend from Heaven. One day, we will know the whole story.... I believe in miracles...
Until then, if you pass by our yard, you will see Angel flag her tail and trot along with you, with her nose in the air, on the other side of the fence. If you happen to notice, my husband will be throwing a football, and yes, Angel retrieves."
Angel the Hovawart with a football in her mouth