Hall of Fame - Shaftoe's Tasha, ScH III, AD, WH

"Against All Odds"
By Licia Babb and
Linda Bassett-Shaftoe
(as printed in the May 1998 DIN)

While browsing through my Schutzhund magazine, I came across an article from a Raleigh, North Carolina club that was giving a report of their recent Schutzhund trials they held. With this article was a picture of the club members and their dogs. The picture was small, but I was sure I was looking at a WGS in that picture. I sat down and wrote the club who put me in contact with the owner of the WGS in the picture, and I wanted to share with you Tasha's true life adventures and accomplishments.

Linda Bassett-Shaftoe and her husband, Tom, were looking for a female puppy for Linda. Linda said she wanted a German Shepherd and she wanted it to be white because she liked the color. They watched both San Antonio, Texas newspapers for a month to find an 8 week old bitch. Linda says, "It turned out that I did a pretty good job temperament testing for someone who didn't know much about choosing dogs." The pups were kept outside and the woman brought them in for me to see. She had them on a piece of plastic just in case they had an accident. When Linda sat down to see the two females in the litter, one female backed away and the other came up and licked her. The friendly one was also prettier than the other female, so home she went.

They named her "Shaftoe's Tasha." She was from pure pet quality lines with names like "Misty Chewie Bingo Bear" and "Wimpy Powder Face." Linda knew nothing about hip dysplasia, so the question of hip x-rays on the parents never came up.

Tasha was spayed at six months because Linda could not be certain she could be with her for a delivery due to her job. Tasha's hips were xrayed at 18 months and Linda was told by the vet (who was on the OFA rotation panel) that her hips looked perfect. The xrays were never repeated because Linda did not want to risk the anesthesia.

Linda is a medical doctor and was in the Army. She and Tom started Schutzhund training Tasha at about 5 or 6 months with a San Antonio training club. They later joined the Lone Star Schutzhund Club and continued to train Tasha along with Tom's black German Shepherd, Rebel. Linda said because she didn't know how to train, she switched her training methods several times. After a time, Linda was transferred to Germany, a move that put them in a U.S. hotel run by a German woman who was into Schutzhund and had been to Texas and who had also met the Shaftoe's.

The Shaftoe's started training with and later joined the O.G. Bremerhaven SV Schutzhund Club. The helper who worked Tasha was impressed with Tasha's drive. When the Shaftoe's asked to join the club, there was yelling back and forth; with little knowledge of German, Linda did pick up the words, "white shepherd." Apparently, there had been someone else, prior to Linda and Tom, who had tried to join with a white but had been denied. The helper stood up in Tasha's defense and said she was an excellent working dog and that he was impressed with her. Then he made the comment that Tom had a colored male import with German papers and did that mean he could not join? Another lady stood up and said, "I have a German Shepherd and a poodle at home, does that mean I can't be a member now?" Another person stood up and stated that he owned a terrier, as well as his German Shepherd, and wanted to know if he was still welcome in the club. After much debate, Tasha and her family were welcomed into the club. Very shortly after that, Tasha went for her Schutzhund I trial and passed with a 100% in protection. After Tasha proved her abilities, all tension subsided.

Tasha went on to complete her Schutzhund II title at a subsequent trial in Bremerhaven that first year. The Shaftoe's then moved to Berlin, where they joined the O.G. Gatow Kadow SV Schutzhund Club and where Tasha completed her Schutzhund III and her AD title. (AD stands for "Ansauer Prufung," which is an endurance test that requires the owner on a bicycle at a speed of 7.7 to 9.5 miles per hour for a total of 12.5 miles with your dog trotting beside you. There are rest periods at certain intervals, where the judge checks the dog for fatigue and foot soreness. When the bicycle work is done, the owner and dog do an on- and off-leash healing routine.)

Tasha also completed her second Schutzhund III on the German island of Sylt under an East German judge (the other judges being West German).

Then Linda finished her tour of duty in Germany and moved to Raleigh, North Carolina, where they joined the Raleigh Schutzhund Association. Tasha again went into the field for her third Schutzhund III title under a United Schutzhund Club of America judge, where she received a 97 in tracking and went High Schutzhund III. At a later trial in Raleigh, she also completed her WH and her B title. (The WH title is the watchdog test and consists of obedience, similar to the B title but there is a "funny" retrieve. The dog does a sit in motion, the handler proceeds 30 paces, places the article (a dumbbell) and returns to the dog and commands the dog to retrieve. There is also a "devotion to handler" portion of the test, which consists of the dog on leash being handed over to a second person. The owner walks away toward a group of people. The dog is then taken behind a wall so the dog can't see the owner. The owner stands silently in the center of the people and the dog is released and must find the owner.) Tasha decided to search two blinds first, but redeemed herself by placing both front paws on Linda's shorts when she found her. The judge's comment was, "She could have been more direct."

The protection phase involves no bites, sleeves or scratch pants. The dog is left with an object to defend, then doesn't act aggressive to a neutral stranger. Then the dog has to defend the article against someone trying to take it. The test for watchfulness consists of the dog, alone in an area at least 7x7 meters. The helper approaches the enclosure aggressively and the dog must bark. The helper runs away, and the handler takes the dog by the collar as the helper goes into a hiding place where he is not visible to the dog. The dog is then released and must find where the helper is hiding and bark.

For the last test, the dog is put on a running wire and must react to one aggressive helper and then another.

Tasha completed her B title last, which is unusual because now you must receive your B title before you can compete for your Schutzhund I title. Tasha completed her Schutzhund I title two months before the change went into effect.

Linda says Tasha is most consistent in obedience and generally doesn't lose full points in anything. Tasha is a happy working dog, and her main advantage is in protection work because she is very clean and doesn't bother the helper. Most importantly, she outs cleanly and quickly. She is not the strongest dog (weighing in at 45 pounds) and her bites are only occasionally full, but she still loves protection.

At about 8 years of age, Tasha was diagnosed with a rectal gland carcinoma that was removed. No spreading of the cancer was found, which was fortunate as this type of cancer tends to be aggressive. Tasha underwent chemotherapy and tolerated it very well. Best of all, she did not lose her sense of smell. So, Tasha and Linda have started working for Tasha's FH (tracking) title. Tasha's six month checkup was clean, and she is getting ready for her next checkup at 9 years of age.

Tasha lives in the house with Linda and Tom and sleeps by the bed, unless Tom vacates his side. She is completely trustworthy in the house and only chews her Nylabones. Tasha even let Linda know when rice was starting to burn on the stove and woke her up with a gentle nudge one morning when Linda's alarm didn't go off. Tasha is the only dog Linda has ever trained and, thanks to Tasha, Linda is a member of the elite Schutzhund III Club. Linda knows of no other white that has been Schutzhund titled with the SV in Germany, which does not recognize the white colored German Shepherd.

Linda says of Tasha, "As is probably clear, she is more than just a pet to me. I guess that is the biggest advantage of the German Shepherd breed -- their versatility." For a woman with no experience in dog training to put all these titles on a dog IN GERMANY, under the auspices of the SV, with a white GSD from non-working lines is truly "Against All Odds."


(as reported by Linda Bassett-Shaftoe
and printed in the February 2000 DIN)

Shaftoe's Tasha Sch III, AD, WH has officially retired from trialing at the ripe old age of 11. However, she has a new job -- breaking in new helpers (the people who train dogs in protection by letting the dogs bite them). She is ideal for this job because she is very clean and trustworthy. Recently she was working with a new helper on some grass. The helper completely lost his footing and fell. Tasha just backed up and waited for him to get up. A visitor who doesn't know Tasha commented that he thought the helper was in big trouble when he fell.

* * *

Thank you, Linda, for the update on Tasha. We hope she is going strong for many more years. Welcome to our Hall of Fame.