Incredible Mister Hans, nonfiction

You Shall Not Pass

I know Hans would have protected me or any of his human or canine family, but thankfully he was never called to do so. He loved people and greeted everyone as a friend. I’ve met many German Shepherds who are shy and nervous of strangers, but Hans was always happy and friendly. He loved life so much that every day was a good day. When the postman delivered parcels, I took Hans with me to collect them. I don’t know if the postman was happy about it, but Hans thought he was great – he was always giving us presents!

Hans was a good watchdog and he’d check out when people came to the house, but he understood when people were allowed to be on the property and when they weren’t, so he if he barked at someone in the garden you knew someone was up to no good. 

Hans took a great interest in the people who came to the house to help look after my mother. Most people weren’t too happy being watched by a huge German Shepherd, so I’d take him into another room while they washed and dressed my mother. The regular carers who came every day knew Hans well and said hello to him.  

He was particularly fond of Sharon. She was a lovely woman, very kind and caring, and treated my mother with great respect. We all liked her. 

Sharon liked dogs, but I think she was a little afraid of Hans because of his size. Hans greeted her every morning after he’d said hello to my mother. He’d be so gentle with my mother, and then he’d be his usual bubbly, squirmy self when he’d say hello to Sharon. 

One morning, he ran into my mother’s room, took a couple of steps towards the bed and stopped suddenly, the hackles raising along his back. Then he exploded towards the bed, put his paws on the side and barked very menacingly at Sharon, who stood on the other side of the bed. There was no growling or bared teeth, but he was very clearly telling her to step away from my mother or he would end her. 

Naturally, Sharon was terrified. I ran over and reassured Hans that everything was all right, and as soon as Sharon spoke, Hans calmed down and greeted her as normal. However, I was disturbed by his reaction. What had set him off like that? It was worrying. 

Then I noticed Sharon had changed her hair. She had a fringe (or bangs) covering her forehead, which was different from the last time she’d visited the house. Hans hadn’t recognized her, and had decided to protect my mother first and ask questions later. 

I only saw Hans suspicious of two other people, and both times it was in relation to my mother. 

We hired a handyman, Ted, to adjust the downstairs bathroom in order to make it more suitable for our needs. 

The first time Ted met Hans, he tried to pick him up. 

I’d encountered little children who wanted to pick up dogs and cats that were the same size as them, and I think the same motivation must have driven men to want to pick up Hans. Several times on walks strangers would approach to pet Hans and then try to pick him up. I think it was because he was taller than the average man when standing on his hind legs that he inspired this test of strength in certain individuals.  

Ted arrived at the house and I let him in, Hans accompanying me as always. As we walked across the room, I noticed that Ted had put his arms around Hans and was attempting to lift him. Hans tolerated it with remarkable patience, but I suggested Ted let him go and not try to pick him up again. Hans didn’t hold this against Ted and greeted him in a friendly manner on subsequent meetings. 

One day, while Hans and I sat with my mother in her room, Ted decided to call in to say hello to her. As soon as Ted stepped into the room, Hans positioned himself beside my mother’s bed, facing Ted, and gave a warning bark. He didn’t growl or bare his teeth, nor did he lunge forward barking loudly, he merely stood in front of the bed staring at Ted but it was clear that he was ready to die to protect my mother and he wasn’t going to give Ted a second warning. I guess Hans was afraid Ted would try to pick up my mother, and I don’t blame him for being suspicious of Ted! 

Ted understood what Hans was telling him, and he froze. I immediately told Hans to stand down and diffused the situation. Once Hans relaxed, Ted backed out of the room visibly shaken. 

The third time was when we had visitors staying at the house. By this time my mother needed someone to sit with her for most of the night. She couldn’t settle and you never knew how late you’d have to sit up with her. 

Hans and I were sitting in the darkened room beside the bed, and our visitors were chatting in the next room. It was late, I was tired, and I was a bit stressed that the noise would keep my mother awake. I should have realized that Hans had picked up on my mood, but I was tired and I thought he was asleep at my feet. 

Our visitors decided to go to bed, and one stepped into my mother’s room to say goodnight. 

Hans slowly rose to his feet and let out a low, ominous growl. I realized he had picked up on my tension and thought my mother was in serious danger. I had never seen him like this. He looked like a wolf. I knew he was ready to attack to protect my mother from harm. 

I immediately told him to stand down and reassured him, while at the same time trying to put forth a very relaxed, happy energy while I said goodnight to the visitor so that Hans would see we were okay. He did, he relaxed, and settled down. 

Hans was always my cuddly, happy puppy, so it was easy to forget he was also a very large, very powerful predator. I only glimpsed his power a handful of times, and each time I was impressed at his level of self control that kept so much power contained. 

It is so important that large dogs are given proper training and handling so that they can live happily with people. They’re no more dangerous or mean or scary than little dogs, but if they don’t know how to control themselves, and they don’t have someone they listen to in order to guide them, they have the potential to do a lot of harm purely because they are large, strong animals. 

11 thoughts on “You Shall Not Pass”

    1. Oh I agree! Training is essential for ALL dogs. Apart from the dogs safety and enjoyment in life, and for your own peace of mind living with it, dogs should be good citizens. They shouldn’t be a nuisance or danger to others and they should be a good example of how beneficial dogs can be whenever they’re out and about. Tiny dogs don’t get a free pass just because they’re little.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Mr. Hans looks very handsome in the picture. And how lucky you are to have such a good loyal dog to accompany you. And you are such a good son too. You know I’ve seen people having German Shepherds on TV, but I’ve never seen people owning one in our neighborhood. I guess immigrants don’t usually own this kind of dog. I always avoid dogs when I was having a walk in the neighborhood (especially during spring time). You are right some people don’t train their dog to be polite or probably don’t know how to…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you. He was very handsome and very good. That’s interesting there aren’t many German Shepherds in your area. Unfortunately, many people don’t put the time in to train their dogs (or don’t know how, as you say). I can see why you avoid them, just in case.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s