McAlester News-Capital, McAlester, OK

Features

November 9, 2013

Shutzhund trains dogs to track, protect

FAIRMONT, W.Va. — I’m scrunched behind a 10-foot, plastic blind trying to make myself invisible.

Maybe he won’t find me? Maybe if I stay perfectly still, hardly breathing, he won’t …

It’s no use. I hear the dog panting, rushing toward me. He circles the blind then looks me squarely in the eye.

The German Shepherd snarls. Each powerful bark pins me further in place.

Stay calm, I tell myself. Dogs can smell fear, can't they?

The next thing I know, I’m sprinting down the field with the dog at my heels. Then, with practiced precision, he bites my right arm. I feel it only faintly through a thick, padded sleeve, but the force of the 90-pound animal nearly drags me down.

“Good boy! Get him, boy!” barks his owner, Joe Gribben, a 42-year-old barrel-chested man who still sports the high-and-tight haircut of his days in law enforcement.

Gribben is an imposing figure who looks like he could bench press a car. If not for a gentle smile and quick laugh, he’d be almost as frightening as his dogs.

But, when Gribben speaks, the dogs listen.

“Oust!” he orders.

Jaro releases my arm.

“Pretty cool, huh?” Gribben says.

“I’m just glad I had the sleeve on," I laugh.

'Protection dogs'

That was my introduction to Schutzhund, a sport begun in Germany in the early 20th century as a way to select German Shepherds to breed, and to hone their intelligence and athleticism.

German immigrant Gernot Riedel introduced the sport - its name translates to "Protection Dog" - to the United States in 1957. Its following here has since grown from a single club in California to thousands across the country.

And while German Shepherds remain its most popular subjects, the sport includes other breeds including Rottweilers, Giant Schnauzers and Doberman Pinschers.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
Features
Seasonal Content
AP Video
US Ready to Slap New Sanctions on Russia Kerry: Not Worried About Israeli Criticism Boater Rescued From Edge of Kentucky Dam Girl Struck by Plane on Florida Beach Dies Rodents Rampant in Gardens Around Louvre House to Vote on Slimmed-down Bill for Border Looming Demand Could Undercut Flight Safety Raw: 2 Shells Hit Fuel Tank at Gaza Power Plant Raw: Massive Explosions From Airstrikes in Gaza Giant Ketchup Bottle Water Tower Up for Sale Easier Nuclear Construction Promises Fall Short Kerry: Humanitarian Cease-fire Efforts Continue Raw: Corruption Trial Begins for Former Va Gov. The Carbon Trap: US Exports Global Warming Traditional African Dishes Teach Healthy Eating
NDN Video
Weird 'Wakudoki' Dance Launches Promotional Competition Chris Pratt Adorably Surprises Kids at a 'Guardians of the Galaxy' Screening Chapter Two: Designing for Naomi Watts NOW TRENDING: Peyton Manning dancing at practice "The Bachelorette" Makes Her Decision Thieves pick the wrong gas station to rob Golden Sisters on '50 Shades' trailer: 'Look At That Chest!' Staten Island Man's Emotional Dunk Over NYPD Car - @TheBuzzeronFOX GMA: Dog passes out from excitment to see owner Baseball Hall of Famers Inducted 'Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1' Sneak Peek Florida Keys Webcam Captures Turtles Hatching Morgan Freeman Sucks Down Helium on 'Tonight Show' Robin Wright Can Dance! (WATCH) She's Back! See Paris Hilton's New Carl's Jr. Ad Big Weekend For Atlanta Braves In Cooperstown - @TheBuzzeronFox Chapter Two: Becoming a first-time director What's Got Jack Black Freaking Out at Comic-Con? Doctors Remove 232 Teeth From Teen's Mouth Bradley Cooper Explains His Voice in 'Guardians of the Galaxy'
Parade
Magazine

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.