Strong enough to protect your home…and gentle enough to play with your children!
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Watching Hector Grow
Hector is a Zena and Lex pup. I must say we get many emails from all our extended German Shepherd Dog families.

There are so many happy people with wonderful dogs. What Hector has received from Bob and Lydia is everything that it takes to have a wonderful family companion.

So, we have chosen Hector to follow in order for you and other families to better understand our dogs, how they live and how they grow.

Bob and Lydia will soon be adding a new member to their family…Little Cassandra, daughter to Lex and Kellina. She will be a female we will later breed.

Thanks Bob and Lydia for everything you have put into Hector. Love. time and understanding. We look forward to watching Cassandra grow…………

Penny,
Went to Hector’s favorite park today.  He had a great swim in the Mills River after a short hike.  He coaxed a couple of other dogs to get in the water as well.

On the way out of the park we saw a large male shepherd roughly Hector’s size coming toward us.  As we approached his owner brought his dog over who immediately lunged at Hector in a very aggressive manner, mouth wide open.  Hector deflected this first lunge then gave a deep growling bark message back that he would defend himself if left no other choice.  Hector then tried several different maneuvers trying to calm the other shepherd down.  It did work after a while and both dogs agreed on a truce.  The owner was very impressed with Hector’s looks and temperament.

I told him that Hector was made in Vermont at Stronghold German Shepherds.  His dog, 3 years old, was from a well known breeder in Maine.  This is the second aggressive dog I’ve seen from this kennel.  The first one had to be put down when he bit a young child at Mills River Park.  I saw his owner working very diligently with this dog several months before he bit the child.  This owner knows Otto ‘s master and recognized Hector must be related the first time he saw him.

To think we were seriously considering this breeder when we decided to get another German Shepherd Dog a couple of years ago.  What a mistake that would have been!!!

Couldn’t be happier with our big, wonderful Stronghold boy!!!
Regards,
Bob Batten

Penny,
Seldom does a day go by that I couldn’t provide you with an interesting tidbit about Hector.  Today I picked Hector up from day care to take him for a lunch time walk down to Oakledge Park.  There was a few brave souls out dueling with the strong, cold winds off Lake Champlain.  One women, coming the other way (probably in her 40’s) smiled as Hector and I approached making the passing comment “Hi handsome!”.  I stopped and turned to look at her as she tactfully explained that she meant Hector not me (like I needed an explanation).

I told her that Hector was very friendly.  She approached him dazzled by his stunning looks and soft, fluffy fur.  We talked while she petted Hector just mesmerized by his temperament and looks.  She mentioned that when she was a small girl her parents had gotten a large German Shepherd Dog that was her protector and guardian for many happy years.  I could see that it really meant a lot to her being able to interact with another German Shepherd Dog so many years removed from her beloved childhood companion.

When I picked the big boy up tonight at day care one of the owners shared a story about Hector from a few weeks ago.  A couple had purchased a 4 month old female shepherd from a very well known breeder in Quebec.  This puppy’s primary interaction with people was during feeding.  She had no interaction with other dogs other than German Shepherd Dog’s at the breeder.
She came to Hector’s day care very fearful of other people an any dog that wasn’t a German Shepherd Dog.   The owner had never seen a case where a dog only identified with other dogs of its own breed.  She struggled to fit in over several visits.

Then there was the fateful day when her path crossed Hector’s.  She immediately latched on to the big boy, holding on to his fur as he guided her around all day introducing her to the other dogs while showing her that there was no need to fear anyone on the staff.  After just one day, this pups demeanor towards other dogs and people had improved noticeably.  She continues to make progress thanks largely to our local version of “Daddy” (the pit bull from the series “Dog Whisperer”) that had similar effects on troubled dogs.

Just an amazing dog needless to say.

Penny,
Hector has had a very busy day so far.  We went for a walk this morning, got his bordetella booster (required for doggy day care). Then we went to Pet Food Warehouse and got him……………..  you guessed it, and Egge!!   At PFW there was someone with a 4-5 month old male German Shepherd Dog. Nice looking dog but very fearful and aggressive towards larger dogs like Hector.  I asked the owner where he got the dog.  He said a breeder in Rhode Island.  You could see the owners’ frustration mounting as his puppy would bark excessively and growl whenever he saw Hector.  Hector of course just stood or sat in place not reacting at all towards the behavior coming his way.  I thought as I walked out of the store that this gentleman could have saved himself a lot of travelling and money had he checked out Stronghold first.

Decided to slide on down to Burlington to mingle amongst people and pets on Church Street.  Hector was well received as usual.   We met a couple who had put their last German Shepherd Dog down a few years ago and were in between dogs for the moment.  They could not get over how calm and beautiful Hector was, especially for such a young dog.  Hector did not mind the attention one bit either.

Then, we met a Fidelco German Shepherd Dog in training on upper Church Street.  I stopped about 15 feet away so both dogs could look each other over. This dog is probably 7-8 months old, 50-60lbs.  Nice looking male.  He suddenly bolted from his handler coming at Hector very aggressively, growling, teeth showing.  Hector didn’t react aggressively at all.

Sensing that I was in control, he simply performed a defensive spin deflecting the other dog off while the handler gained control of his dog.   Not a growl, no hackles, nothing from Hector.  The handler apologized several times.  I told him that it was ok, that as he could see, Hector deals with aggression very well and doesn’t expect that
every dog is going to immediately like him (unfortunately).

Got lots of compliments on Hectors handsome looks on the boardwalk by the ferry after that.
All in all a very good day so far.
Bob

Penny,
Hope you and Will enjoy Hector’s company this week.  He has such a nice personality and just loves being around people and other dogs no matter what is going on.  People could learn a lot from dogs.  They always seem to make the best of any situation, something too few people do.  Hector is the product of years of developing a top notch breeding program, a tribute to you and Will’s efforts.  Something to be very proud of.

We feel it was destiny that allowed us to have one of the very best shepherds you’ve ever produced, we count our blessings with him every day.  We take him everywhere to show people what a wonderful dog German Shepherd Dog’s can be.  He always gets people’s attention with his looks and personality.  You can see how friendly and intelligent he is just by looking into those almond eyes.  We look at him as a gift we need to share with others not able to have a dog of their own.  It is such a pleasure to watch people young and old alike just light up when they interact with Hector.

There is no question in my mind that dogs are God’s gift to us.  They are the only animal that totally dedicate themselves to their masters.  No other animal comes close to the bond shared between people and dogs.
Regards,
Bob

Penny,
Saw three other Shepherds today while walking Hector at lunch in Oakledge Park in Burlington.  As you know, I bring Hector to dog day care  next to my work in Burlington 1-2 days a week.  When I have time and when the weather cooperates I pick H up at day care  and take him for a walk during my lunch.

Saw one puppy that reminded me of H when he was about 12 weeks old. Couldn’t get close enough to ask the owners where they got their companion.

Unfortunately, I ran into a mother, her friend and her 3 year old daughter that were walking a 6 month old male shepherd pup that exhibited nervous aggression.  They got this pup from another breeder in Vt.  They took turns coming over to pet Hector and were amazed at how calm and beautiful he was.  The little girl placed her hand in Hector’s mouth several times sensing no need for caution with our gentle giant.  Their pup was a fine looking shepherd but was obviously lacking social skills that could be related to poor blood lines, inferior up bringing by their breeder and ignorance on the owners part regarding the complexities of raising a high energy breed.  It is obvious to me that few German Shepherd breeders take such care in developing their bloodlines and screening of potential owners as you do at Stronghold.

I gave them some tips on how to help promote the socialization that this pup was sorely lacking.  Hope it helps….
Hector got to take his 1st swim in Lake Champlain today.  Does this dog ever love the water!!!  I had to coax him out, he would have been content to stay in the lake all afternoon.
Regards,
Bob Batten

(P.S. We love our Hector!)

Penny,
Thanks for the photos!  Kellina is as stunning as Hector!!!

What a beautiful dog.  We will have to talk some time along.  I think Hector would love having a little sister.  He certainly would be a great influence and role model for her.

I took him for a walk this afternoon and met our neighbor riding her horse. Hector saw the horse quite a ways down the road and was getting a little concerned.  I talked him up using a trick our first dog trainer taught us to say in a high pitch, praising voice “Happy dog, that’s a happy dog Hector!” several times.  By the time the horse was next to us he was just fine.  I put him on sit stay and talked to my neighbor.  Neither the horse nor Hector showed any concern about the other.
Thanks again for the photos….
Bob

Penny,
Our son Brady and we were hiking with Hector on Nebraska Notch and the Long Trail yesterday.  At one point we came upon a young girl (6-7 years old) and her father.  She saw Hector and said: “Look daddy, a doggy!”.  He replied: “It’s a German Shepherd, stay away from it!”

I put Hector on sit and explained to the father as he and his daughter continued to approach that Hector was very well socialized with small children.  He wasn’t impressed. Once they got a little closer his daughter said emphatically: “I’m going to pet that dog!”.  She marched right up to Hector and started to pet him.  Her father resigned to his daughter’s strong will said: “OK, you’ve pet the dog now let’s go.”

Just one of dozens of incidents we have had with Hector being the “Ambassador”!  It’s amazing that no matter where we go or what we are doing, that we continue to have similar experiences where young children can sense this dog’s wonderful temperment and refuse to be denied a chance to interact with him.

We had his hiking saddle bags on during this hike.  He sensed that this meant he had a job to do and rarely strayed off trail.  He has matured so much since the last time you’ve seen him.
Regards,
Bob & Lydia Batten
Penny,
Hello– I know Bob has been in touch with you about H.’s pictures…

I just wanted to let you know that I’ll be taking H. to Stowe tomorrow to be neutered. While he’s calming down somewhat behavior-wise, he’s had no appetite lately (even for his raw food!), I think because he’s got ‘mating’ on the brain! A friend who has been around dogs most of her life said that males often will go off their feed when they sense it’s ‘bitch-in-heat’ season! So, since he’s not ever going to get that ‘itch’ scratched, I figured it’s time to eliminate his frustrations! 

Otherwise he’s a grand dog!  Here’s a cute story–yesterday I took him for a walk in a small, nearby field that most of the time is empty and set apart. Lately the grass has been super tall, and unbeknownst to me, the neighbors who raise sheep for meat, had moved their sheepfold into the lower part of that field (it’s their field and we’re usually ‘trespassing’ when we walk in there…) recently. Probably about 10 sheep in all… Well, when Hector came upon them–he’d gotten ahead of me and I did not see what was there because the grass was so tall until he started barking–he jumped over the fence (about 4 feet high) and immediately proceeded to run circles around them, herding them!. When I finally got his attention, he came back towards me and couldn’t figure out how to get back to me (I think he jumped so instinctively he didn’t realize he’d done it!) and after giving him the ‘hup’ command a few times (which he knows and executes very well already–he just had to come back to the ‘real’ world…) he ‘boinged’ right over that fence like nobody’s business!! He is definitely agile and jumps as gracefully as a deer! We are looking forward to him getting older so we can start some agility training with him!

Hope all is well there with the dogs, pups, etc!
Lydia

I will burn some more pics on a CD for you and mail it later this week.  At 95lbs and stronger than an ox, this dog is formidable! You’ll see a pictures of Hector carrying a 9 foot long 15 lb stick. Before this latest snowfall, he found a 20 foot popular tree that blew down this summer.  He bit off all of the limbs, and carried this 30+lb tree about 100 feet before dropping it!  Unfortunately, we did not have a camera with us at the time.  He has the uncanny ability of finding the balance point of any stick or tree he finds, whether that balance point is in the middle or skewed to one end.  I’ve never seen a dog this smart.

Hope all is well with your family.  Saw an ad in the Free Press this
week that you have another litter.  Who were the parents?

He hiked with us to the top of Mt. Abrhaham today.  That makes two 4000+ foot peaks in as many weeks.  He made a bunch more friends today.  Two  adies were amazed at his stunning looks and temperment.  One of them suggested we model him the other never knew a German Shepherd Dog could be so calm and gentle (her neighbors have two pretty mean German Shepherd Dog’s).  So our ambassador continues to send good German Shepherd Dog vibes everywhere he goes.

His latest quirk is burping out loud to the extent that you would swear it was a person that did it!  He let a burp go on top of Mt. Abe today next to a park ranger who said: “Was that your dog?”.  Pretty funny.
See you around 10:30 tomorrow.

Penny,
I think your comment of Hector being a longer hair version of Lex is only partially correct.  He has lost almost all of his ear “fluff” just a few left on one ear now.  His very long ridgeline hair (and part) is all gone!! This just since he was at your place.  He has reds and golds starting to come out everywhere.  Still has a dark muzzle but even that has hints of reddish gold sprinkles on top of his snout.

Within a year or two I think Hector will look amazingly like his father Lex.
The raw food diet is absolutely agreeing with him.  I’ve never seen a German Shepherd Dog with such shinny, soft fur.
He keeps getting more handsome as he ages.
Bob

March 21, 2010

Penny,
As Spring approaches we have been taking Hector out and about.  Wait until you see how the red and gold highlights have manifested themselves on his coat.  Everywhere we take him, people stop to admire his stunning looks and are drawn in by his friendly demeanor.  It’s amazing how he stops people in their tracks at first sight.  He dispels the notion that German Shepherd Dog’s have a mean temperament and are not to be trusted.  His is the ambassador of this breed.
Bob

Lydia gave Hector his weekly brushing yesterday.  Words cannot describe how strikingly handsome this dog is.  We see him every day, and are still awestruck; he is simply one of the most beautiful dogs we’ve ever seen regardless of the breed.

He has adopted several of his handlers (all women) at day care in Burlington.  This is his second home.  The people there are so good with all dogs large and small, timid and outgoing.  I’ve watched how Hector interacts with the dogs there.  He is so easy going, respecting the little dogs for their frailty while raising the bar with the larger active dogs.  One of my co-workers who have talked to you over the phone got to see Hector at dog care the other day.  She loves the pictures of Hector
That I have shared with her this last year.  In person she finally got to see how magnificent this dog truly is.  I have no doubt that she will be contacting you looking for a puppy this coming summer.

When the handlers brought Hector out to see us they had to take him through one of the play areas that had about 20 other dogs of all sizes engaging in play.  As soon as Hector entered their area, every dog immediately stopped what they were doing and gravitated all around him.  He was like a superconducting magnet attracting iron filings.  It was pretty amazing to see how he just stood his ground not the least bit intimidated by the mass of canines encroaching from all sides.

We hit the lottery jackpot with this dog.  We could not be happier with our companion and are thankful that we found Stronghold German Shepherds.

We’ll bring him by sometime soon (maybe on our way to see my Mom who is one of Hector’s biggest fans).
Regards,
Bob & Lydia Batten

Penny,
I am writing you from Lydia’s laptop.  We are in Maine vacationing at Ocean Beach near Old Orchard Beach for two weeks.  We had Hector here last week and he got his first taste of the ocean.  A little leery of the surf crashing in at high tide during our first visit to the beach, our second outing at lower tide with flatter beach surfaces for Hector to explore went much better.  He had a blast running along the surf tearing up the beach fetching sticks while timing his grab to give him time to turn tail to the next wave crashing in.  Quite a site.  People were very taken by this large, imposing dog that obeyed our commands to fetch and release his stick with the occasional 5-6 foot leap grabbing the stick out of our outreached hand.

Each day he would make more friends, human and dog alike.  Children fearlessly approached him sometimes at the angst of their parents.  Somehow they can sense that he has a gentle heart.  We got more compliments on his looks and physique than we could keep track of.  He is truly one in a million.

Last Thursday we took him on his first mountain ascent to the top of Willard Mtn at the top of Crawford Notch in NH.  When we got to the top their were about 10 young girls already at the summit with their chaperones.  They flocked around him like bees to honey; it was quite a site.  Hector didn’t know what to make of all the attention.  We let him take a dip in Saco Lake at the top of the notch after the hike as a reward and to remove several days of salt build up from the ocean.

Some of the comments we received last week included:

“I love his mask.”
“He has such a huge head!”

“He is just about the most perfect looking dog I’ve ever seen.”

“Is it ok if I pet your dog?”

“You have a great dog there.”

“Is that a Fidelco dog?  Great looking dog!”

We now refer to him as the ambassador!  He exemplifies the best of his breed and of dogs in general.  A lot of people who would normally be nervous around large dogs, especially an often maligned breed such as a German Shepherd Dog are drawn to him after watching their children march right up to him and start petting.

We will have to stop over later this summer.  You cannot believe how he has matured.  He continues to get more handsome.

Our youngest son Brady is on vacation in Vt. this week and just had to have Hector back to keep him company and to accompany him on hikes up Mt. Mansfield.  So we are without our faithful companion this last week in Maine.

We’ll send some pictures along soon.
Thank you again for providing us with the most amazing dog.

Regards,
Bob & Lydia Batten

Penny,
Looks like Paddles has imprinted on the dogs!  Is that who he thinks he is  now?  Pretty cute.
Took Hector to the top of Camel’s Hump yesterday.  Have some great pics of him up there.  Then we went down to Church Street in Burlington for dinner outside with our #1 dog.  It’s amazing how he attracts people like a magnet. Several people who were vacationing from out of state and out of the country came over to pet him (they needed a dog fix and Hector was happy to oblige). Got more compliments on his looks and temperment than we could keep track of.  One woman took down your web address, she was pretty impressed with Hector.

He met up with a Bernese Mountain Dog at 150lbs, a 14 month old Mastif at 200lbs and a Great Dane at 180lbs last night.  Not very often at 90lbs that Hector ends up being the small dog!  He got along very well with all of them.  All in all Hector had a pretty good day….

Penny,
Last weekend, Lydia and I took Hector to Mills River Park in Underhill (his favorite thing) to hike in the woods and possibly play with other dogs in the off leash area.  This is the park where the photos of Hector were taken in the river earlier this year.

When we arrived a cute little yellow dog was just getting out of his owner’s car and he and Hector immediately hit if off.  So we decided to take Hector to the off leash area first to play with his new friend.  When we got there, there were two English Scotties, another little yellow dog and a small mixed  breed puppy.  So Hector was the big boy in the crowd.  In fact he probably weighed more than all of the other dogs combined.  Hector just loves little dogs for some reason.  All of the dogs were running around with Hector having a great time except for the little puppy who was too small to be  rough housing with the others so his owner kept it on its leash close by.  A couple of the other dogs began to get a little too rough with the puppy. Hector immediately forced himself between the puppy and the other dogs to protect him!  One of the owners of the other dogs asked me if Hector was  doing this purposely.  As I was about to answer yes, Hector intercepted his dog before he could get to the puppy again!  Quite the dog.  The people there were pretty impressed.  Also relieved that Hector was such a gentle giant.
Bob Batten

Penny,
Had to tell you about Hector today.  I left him at daycare this morning (his new home away from home).  When I picked him up the staff said he had made a new friend.  On Monday he met two Newfies (sisters) still pups but larger than he is at 95 lbs!  They fell in love with him and were both competing for his attention.  He took his usual “we’ve got all day, I’ll play with both of you approach to doggy diplomacy.”  This explained the dried up slobber on his fluffy ears and neck!  So when I heard he had made a new friend today I’m thinking another large dog, how wrong!  It was a tiny Yorkie about 1/10th his size.  The staff was amazed at how gentle Hector was playing with this tiny dog sensing that it would not want to play with him if he were to get too rough.  Yet again a fitting testament of the superb bloodlines you have developed at Strongholdgermanshepherds.

We may never win the lottery but we certainly hit the jackpot with this fine example of the German Shepherd breed.  The day care will post a picture of Hector and his little buddy soon.  I will be sure to send you the web address so you can take a peek.
Bob Batten

Penny,
Went to Hector’s favorite park today.  He had a great swim in the Mills River after a short hike.  He coaxed a couple of other dogs to get in the water as well.

On the way out of the park we saw a large male shepherd roughly Hector’s size coming toward us.  As we approached his owner brought his dog over who immediately lunged at Hector in a very aggressive manner, mouth wide open.  Hector deflected this first lunge then gave a deep growling bark message back that he would defend himself if left no other choice.  Hector then tried several different maneuvers trying to calm the other shepherd down.  It did work after a while and both dogs agreed on a truce.  The owner was very impressed with Hector’s looks and temperament.  I told him that Hector was made in Vermont at Stronghold German Shepherds.  His dog, 3 years old, was from a well known kennel in Maine. This is the second aggressive dog I’ve seen from this kennel.  The first one had to be put down when he bit a young child at Mills River Park.  I saw his owner working very diligently with this dog several months before he bit the child.  This owner knows Otto ‘s master and recognized Hector must be related the first time he saw him.

To think we were seriously considering this kennel in Maine, when we decided to get another GSD a couple of years ago.  What a mistake that would have been!!!

Couldn’t be happier with our big, wonderful Stronghold boy!!!
Regards,
Bob Batten


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