For the Love of a German Shepherd…In Lancaster County

UPDATE: This giveaway is now over. Thank you to everyone who participated! I used to select a winner, and that winner is Sheryl R. Congratulations, Sheryl! Please send your mailing address to to claim your autographed copy of A Season for Tending


I have something very special to share with you today. I am so excited to have a post written by one of my readers! I hope you will enjoy this touching story as much as I did. It’s about one couple’s experience in Lancaster County. After Judy shares her event, I’ll tell you how it connects with A Season for Tending (book one in my new series).

– Cindy


For the Love of a German Shepherd…In Lancaster County

Written by Judy Grivas

My husband and I have loved German shepherds for more than thirty-five years and we’ve always had two in our lives at once. When our Susie, at almost ten years old, had to be put to sleep, the house was much too quiet with five-year-old Sparkie as the only fur baby. We really missed the cute interaction between two big dogs. Even Sparkie seemed sad.

So we excitedly searched the Internet for a second German shepherd to add to our household. My husband found many sites for German shepherd pups, but he was particularly drawn to the Lancaster, Pennsylvania, sites. We have a huge connection with that area. My late mother-in-law was born and raised there, and over the years we’ve gone on many enjoyable trips to visit and vacation in Lancaster County.

After seeing a picture of a pup named Heidi, we contacted the owners and scheduled a visit to an Amish farm to see the six-week-old litter and their mom.


I succeeded in getting us lost for a bit on the way there, which isn’t at all uncommon for me, but after passing several horse-drawn buggies belonging to the local Amish community, we finally ended up on the correct road. We followed a long stretch of wide-open land along a small road, found the Stoltzfus farm, and pulled into the driveway. The lady of the house stood alongside a small shed, dressed the way we expected, complete with prayer cap. She pointed us in the direction of the barn and then followed us.

As we stepped out of the car, we were greeted by two quiet and curious young children who had come out to see us. The little boy was wearing a straw hat and plain clothes, and his younger sister had on a headscarf with a longish dress. They were quiet and well behaved as they walked into the barn with us.

Their mother held back a ferociously barking, mostly black, female German shepherd by leaning over the dog’s back and wrapping her fingers through the thick leather collar that encircled her neck. We recognized the pup’s mother from the picture we’d seen on the computer. After the children followed their mom’s instructions by taking the pups out of the horse stall—a huge space with a straw-covered floor that was obviously their den—the woman slid the pup’s mom into the now-empty stall as she explained that her husband would be home shortly.


“Mom” wasn’t at all happy about being separated from her babies. She walked around the stall on her hind legs before drinking from a water bowl that had been placed on top of a ledge. She barked at us as she peeked through the wooden slats in the upper part of the stall and seemed frustrated as she tried to find her babies and see what was happening. The horses and cows in the barn stayed calm, as if they were used to the noise.

We were just getting ready to sort through the cuddly, wriggling pile of seven pups that were huddled together in front of the stall door when her husband came into the barn.

After introductions, we told him we were interested in the female pup named Heidi we’d seen on the website. He asked the children to place the male pups in a large wire crate that sat beside the stall and leave the females loose. When the males were separated, the females piled on top of one another against the front of the stall door in an apparent effort to hide from us. It was so funny to watch!

I peeled the top pup off the wriggling mountain of black fur and cuddled her against my chest. Her little heart was beating a mile a minute as she snuggled close to me. Then she grabbed my forearm with both front paws and, using them like hands, drew my arm closer to her.

I was in love.

“Heidi” at about two months old

We went to an anteroom of the Stoltzfus home to sign the paperwork. While waiting for my turn, I glanced through the windows of the door leading into the main part of the house. I saw a simple, clean home, with a high chair set back against one wall of the kitchen. I wondered if there was a baby napping somewhere in the house.

The law said we had to leave Heidi with her mom until she was eight weeks old. We knew it was going to be hard for us to wait two weeks before we could bring her home. As we reluctantly drove away from the farm, I heard the sound of a ringing phone emanating from the small shed we’d seen when we drove in.


On a sunny day in May, exactly two weeks later, we drove back to Lancaster, excited about bringing Heidi home. All the way there we discussed the best way to introduce our older dog, Sparkie, to his new baby sister.

We pulled up at the barn and sunlight streamed down over the farm. It was like a scene from an Amish movie. The lady of the house, her hair covered by the prayer cap, was tending the garden at the top of the hill, her long dress billowing in the wind as she worked with a hand tiller. Her husband, hat on his head, was using a rotary mower to cut the grass that surrounded the house and barn. And our little pup was running around on her little legs, investigating everything.

When we got out of the car, Heidi came running up to us. But as soon as my husband reached down to pick her up, she tried to scoot away under the car to make her escape. We ended up in quite the chase, but we finally caught up with her. Little did we know that she was showing us the first sign of the free spirit she was.

We made some small talk with the Stoltzfuses, then got back in the car and began the long ride home.

As I sat in the backseat nuzzling and cuddling our newest fur baby, I said to my husband, “I think she needs a bath. She smells like horse.”

We both laughed.

Lucy and her big brother, Sparkie

This newest addition was our seventh German shepherd, and we’d never had one so smart or with such a strong mind of her own. She ruled over her huge “big brother” from day one. Her strong personality showed itself so early and often that we knew we had to change her name. A meek Heidi she was not! Instead she became Lucy…named for my favorite (very willful) comic character from television.


Cindy here! In A Season for Tending, Samuel has a very strong opinion about dogs. Let’s take a peek at Samuel’s viewpoint in a conversation with his girlfriend, Catherine. . .

“But no chance of getting a dog?”

“Kumm on, Catherine. Dogs ruin floors and tear up things. I want to keep saving for a future home, not spend money replacing stuff in my parents’ house.”

Catherine squeezed his hand. “That was a good answer.”

“Ya, I figured you’d like it.”

In a separate chapter, Samuel and Catherine decide to go visit a family in their community and their new puppies. . .

Christian pulled open the barn door. The earthy aroma of animals overpowered the smell of hay. They followed him to the far end of the barn, and as he neared the last horse stall on the left, high-pitched yelps greeted them.

Catherine adored this sound. She knew Samuel, and they’d leave here without a puppy. Still she couldn’t help but dream. Every girl she’d graduated eighth grade with was already married; most either had a baby or were expecting one. But here she was at twenty-one still waiting to be officially engaged. If she couldn’t yet have a home of her own or start a family, it seemed a puppy would help the days, months, and years pass more easily.

Christian opened the top half of the stall door. In one corner was a mound of hay covered with sheepskin. Another area had bowls of food and water, and the far corner was filled with sawdust for the dogs to use to relieve themselves.

The mama dog lay on the sheepskin, watching her five buff-and-white puppies roll around and on top of each other, tussling over a colorful braided cord.

“Oh, Samuel, aren’t they adorable?”

At the sound of her voice, her favorite pup stopped playing and looked up at her, barking.

“Did you see how she recognized my voice?” Catherine reached her hand across the stall door, talking to her. “Hello, you precious thing.”

The puppy excitedly spun around in circles, barking, while her long, fluffy ears flopped about her head. She then put her front paws on the door, yapping at Catherine.

She reached in and scooped her up. The little pup licked her face, and the scratchy tongue against her cheek made her giggle.

“Seems like they’d shed a lot,” Samuel mumbled.

“Most dogs do, but cocker spaniels aren’t the worst.” Christian rubbed the head of the pup Catherine held.

So what do you think? Does Samuel end up getting a dog for Catherine? 


If you would like to enter for a chance to win an autographed copy of A Season for Tending, simply leave a comment at the bottom of this post on my website: (

If you are reading this anywhere other than my website, such as on Facebook, in an email, or on Goodreads, please hop on over to my website and leave a comment at the bottom of my post to enter the giveaway. Only comments left on my website ( will be entered into the giveaway. (It’s just too hard to track down all the comments left in various places, and that means it’s too easy to miss some of the comments.)

The deadline for this contest is Friday, August 24, 2012, at noon. The winner will be chosen using and will be contacted privately, as well as announced on next week’s post.


Last week’s winner of an issue of Cooking & Such: Adventures in Plain Living magazine is Emily Perrine. Congratulations, Emily!

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