March 28, 2019

My dog Hansi-- a lovely combo of German Shepherd and Doberman Pinscher. Loyal, smart as hell, brave, loving and a great companion, she was a truly legendary and magical creature.

My favorite Hansi story:

She woke my father in in the middle of the night once, in Frankfurt, Germany-- along about the same month this photo was taken, Spring of 1956..? She kept nosing at his hand and whimpering quietly, very agitated about something, pacing to and fro. He got up, thinking maybe she had to pee or something, and that maybe she wanted to go out. This was unusual behavior for her.

He stepped into his slippers and padded down the hallway but she stopped him-- blocked him-- before he could enter the living room/dining room area of the house. She sat down, with her nose poking ever so slightly out from the wall toward the dining room, growling very softly, still whimpering very quietly.

Pop looked around the corner, and saw... nothing-- only the three windows beyond the dining table, maybe 20 feet or so away. Something struck him as odd, though. He noticed that the left-hand window seemed... lighter than the other two, for some reason he couldn't discern. Its screen was missing, he realized. Peculiar... As he stared, he saw a man raise himself up, hoist himself into view, his hands on the windowsill, and peer inside. We were being broken into, and Hansi had alerted him!

He stood quietly, patting Hansi's head and whispering to her, "Good girl! What a good girl you are! Shhh! Wait... wait..." As he watched, the guy slid the window open, and stuck one leg through, over the sill (Hansi stood) and then the other, (Hansi, crouched) and then he lightly dropped to the floor, fully inside the room now. Pop whispered, "Go." Hansi sprang from the hallway, closing the gap between them in a second or so. She didn't bark. She made no sound at all.

He screamed in complete surprise, therefore, as she collided with him, driving him back against the wall. She placed both paws on his shoulders and pressed her nose against his face, baring her teeth and only *then* growling a low and ominous warning. Pop always described the moment "...as though she was saying 'Who the fuck do you think you are, sneaking into MY HOUSE, you stupid bastard?' Her tone was one of the most frightening things I've ever heard."

The guy lost all will to resist, to persevere, to think rationally, or to do anything but freeze and try to avoid having his throat torn out. He trembled violently, and made a weird, high, keening noise-- a sort of squeaky, shaky exhalation that didn't consist of any actual words-- either German, English or any other human language. Pop told him in German and English not to move a muscle, and called the police. Hansi stood on her hind legs the whole time we waited, with her paws on the guy's shoulders and her snout a millimeter from his face.

Because we lived in American military dependents' housing, the Army's Military Police showed up, as well as the German Polizei, to haul the guy away. The cops asked if Pop wanted to press charges, and he declined, saying that the asshole had had enough grief for one night. It was enough that the guy had broken in and would be arrested for that. He did, however, make him use his jacket to wipe up the small puddle of urine that collected on the floor beneath his pants cuff. This same guy-- a local German citizen-- was responsible for a number of burglaries in the area, and was taken out of commission by one very bright and dedicated doggo-- who was also my best friend.

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