The German Shepherd Who Adopted a Leonberger Puppy

Photos of the dogs; left to right, our Labrador called Baylor, our Leonberger puppy called Bronco, and our German Shepherd called Baby.
Left to right, Labrador called Baylor, Leonberger puppy called Bronco, and German Shepherd called Baby.

I should say Baby was a rescue dog who came to us via my wife’s sister. She had allegedly been abused in her previous family, as well as dumped at the shelter. For being a German Shepherd,  she was anxious and did not have strong self-confidence. She did not like the dog park, which you could see because she tried to be by herself, and she was drooling while at the park. She was very smart, obedient, and easy, but she seemed depressed.

Photo of our German Shepherd Baby at the dopark.
Baby at the dog park.

Even though Baby was a shy and anxious dog at first, once we got Bronco, her personality changed. She loved Bronco, and she took on the job of being Bronco’s adoptive mom. She played with him; she watched him; she was fiercely protective of him. Bronco was her puppy. She seemed rejuvenated, as if she had found an important job to do—a purpose, if you will. It was beautiful to see her take care of Bronco and play with him. She became happier and more confident, and Bronco loved her.

As an example of her protective behavior, once our daughter Rachel put a bucket over Bronco’s head. She was young and she was just playing. Baby barked at her in a gentle way so that she understood to take the bucket off. She told me later she did not feel threatened by Baby. She felt corrected, like a mother saying, “don’t do that”. Baby liked our daughter Rachel. Rachel was the first one to pet her when she joined our family.

On the left our German Shepherd Baby. On the right, on his back, our four or five months old Leonberger Bronco.
Bronco, at the age of four or five months, would soon outgrow his playmate Baby.
Photo of Bronco at three months old
Bronco at the age of three months

What follows next is a scary story

One day I was out walking with Baylor, Baby, and Bronco. Bronco was very young, maybe four months old. We met a man walking two medium-size black dogs off leash. Suddenly, one of the dogs attacked us. There was nothing I could do. As I watched helplessly, the black dog made the monumental mistake of going for Bronco. If the dog had attacked Baylor or Baby, either dog would certainly have put up a courageous defense, but going after Bronco was nearly suicidal, not because of Bronco himself but because of Baby.

I heard a loud explosion of barks that lasted only a few seconds, and then I saw the black dog flying five or six feet up into the air. Baby had bitten him in the side and tossed him skyward. It was surreal. I almost couldn’t believe what I was witnessing.

The black dog lay in the street. The man knelt before him and started crying. He said his dog’s back was broken. I was mortified, and I said, “I am so terribly sorry.” He said, “It’s not your fault. I was the one walking my dogs without a leash.” It was gratifying for me to hear that under the circumstances, but it was no less tragic.

Then, to my astonishment, the black dog stood up and quickly walked back to the other side of the street. The dog was in shock, but he was fine. The man calmed down, and we said goodbye to each other on good terms.

It wasn’t the only time Baby protected Bronco, but it was the most memorable. Thinking about it still sends chills down my spine. Years later, after Baylor and Baby passed and we got our small dogs, Bronco would take on the role of their protector. He would save lives.

Photo of our Leonberger Bronco (left) and German Shepherd Baby (right) at the dog park. Bronco was still very young and did not yet look like an adult Leonberger. He was gangly and not very muscled yet.
Bronco and Baby at the dog park. Bronco was still very young and did not yet look like an adult Leonberger. He was gangly and not very muscled yet.

However, as Bronco grew older Baby slowly grew out of the role as Bronco’s protector, especially when he wasn’t that well behaved himself. On one occasion when I was walking Bronco and Baby, we met a man and his dog walking on the other side of the street, heading toward us. Bronco started barking at the dog, and the other dog responded. Both dogs worked themselves up into a frenzy. Bronco began pulling on his leash and even jumping. Baby remained quiet. But with all his carrying on, Bronco accidentally bumped Baby into a storm drain, which we happened to be standing right in front of.

To save Baby, I lay on my stomach and grabbed her around her abdomen with one arm—all while holding Bronco’s leash with my other hand. He continued pulling, jumping, and barking as I gradually dragged Baby up out of the drain. The guy on the other side of the street looked at us with big eyes, as if he had seen an evil clown peering out from the storm drain. He lifted his dog up in his arms and ran as fast as he could in the opposite direction.

Illustration of me lying down on the street while holding onto to poor Baby who had fallen into the storm drain. I was also holding onto young and misbehaving Bronco.
Me holding onto to poor Baby while also holding young and misbehaving Bronco. Illustration by Naomi Rosenblatt.

Meanwhile, Bronco had calmed down, and I was able to drag Baby back onto the street. She loved Bronco, but after this incident she showed us in her own way that she’d rather not take her walks with him. We respected her wishes, and I walked them separately from that point on. It was safer anyway.











Finally, if you would like to learn about more about my book and find out where to buy it, click here or here. You can also click the image below to buy it from Amazon. All royalties are donated to the Leonberger Health Foundation International.

The image shows the front cover of my book "The Life and Times of Le Bronco von der Löwenhöhle". Stories and Tips from Thirteen Years with a Leonberger. The cover is beige and brown and it has the face of an old Leonberger in the middle. Author is Thomas Wikman. Click on the image to go to the paperback location for the book.
The front cover of my book “The Life and Times of Le Bronco von der Löwenhöhle”. Click on the image to go to the location for the book.

By thomasstigwikman

My name is Thomas Wikman. I am a software/robotics engineer with a background in physics, but I am currently retired. I took early retirement. I am a dog lover, and especially a Leonberger lover, a home brewer, craft beer enthusiast, an amateur astronomer, I’m learning French, and I am an avid reader. I live in Dallas, Texas, but I am originally from Sweden. I am married to Claudia, and we have three children Jacob, David and Rachel. My blog feature the crazy adventures of our Leonberger e Bronco von der Löwenhöhle as well as information on Leonbergers

31 replies on “The German Shepherd Who Adopted a Leonberger Puppy”

Din underbara berättelse gav mig en hel del minnen. Min avlidne man och jag har alltid haft flera hundar samtidigt. En av dem var en blandras. En Leonberger/Schäfer som hette Rozzo. 😀 Gillar teckningen skarpt!

Liked by 1 person

I love reading rescue dog stories. As a dog lover, reading rescue dog stories has become one of my favorite pastimes. These tales of hope, perseverance, and love warm my heart and remind me of the amazing resilience of our furry friends. Thank you so much for sharing ❤️❤️❤️

Liked by 1 person

It is amazing the loyalty and the love animals can show towards each other. If only all human beings could learn from them. Baby must have been a fantastic dog, and I hope your book about Bronco does very well, especially for such a good cause. Thanks, Thomas. I enjoyed this post enormously.

Liked by 1 person

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