It's been awhile since I've talked about our first family dog, Kraken.

our family dog, the german shepherd

Bjorne seems to get a lot of the attention around here (even though I'm totally NOT a dog person) simply out of necessity and demand. Bjorne is the one who had parvo and almost died, the one who chewed everything in sight, the one who can't be left alone for more than five minutes lest he get into something…everything…anything.

And then there's Kraken, our lovable and loyal family dog, the German Shepherd. This dog is one of those family dogs who you always hear people talking about wistfully. He's steady and strong, constantly waiting for me at the gate. He sleeps beside our bed, and will plop himself at our feet anywhere we go in the house. A rule-follower, he knows where he's allowed and where he isn't and feels no need to push those limits.

The Mark of a Family Dog

If I duck my head under the car to check on the tires, I see his fluffy head bobbing-and-weaving right along with mine. He's constantly with me and endlessly showing affection, finding ways to be up against me in one way or another. Partly possessive, partly sentimental, he knows that we are his and he is ours; it's a weird contrast from the ever non-committal cats and dogs I've had up to this point. He's different; he's a family dog. It seems a little funny now that we got the second dog to keep this one company. They're pals and they play, but Kraken never needed another dog. He's a people lover. A real family dog.

slobbery dog kisses

He's always sticking his big snout up in my face to give me kisses. Not the gross, drooly, smelly ones I feared they'd be. This family dog is weirdly clean.

kind-hearted german shepherd

I love his hilarious, floppy tongue. It hangs out several inches down his neck beneath his expressive eyes. He's always calculating, always herding our awkward flock. I'd heard that a danger with German Shepherds as family dogs is that they can be overbearing, with a reputation for harming casual friends or other animals who get too close to “their” family. I've experienced nothing of the sort. I see his ever-watchful eyes observing and considering everything, but there's a gentleness and understanding there. He knows that this family has a clear chain of command, and he takes orders from Some Boy – and even, sometimes, squeaky and semi-incomprehensive guidance from Sidekick.

His place here as the family dog is clear and, I suspect, appreciated.

the family dog keeping the goats in line

We're actually taking Kraken and Bjorne on our next vacation where we'll be road tripping and camping through quite a few backwoods areas as a family. The dogs have come along with us before, but never on a trip of this magnitude. This is the first time that we're actually having to create a comfortable truck bed space for them, in part to protect Kraken's joints from the occasional aches and pains that German Shepherds are prone to. I've gotten oddly excited about it, getting him a fluffy dog bed and prepping his food and water space. It seems a small favor in return for the security and comfort he has offered to our family, even as a young dog. He's coming into his own, and it makes me proud to see my family – the people and animals that it's comprised of – starting to unify in a way that seems to make sense.

Tall Tails

Tall Tails supports hard working dogs everywhere, donating beds for military dogs and supplying warm blankets for dogsled teams, so they seemed like the right fit for us to work with for Kraken's needs. As an active canine with a big farm and family to protect, he deserves the best! And for my own needs, I appreciate that every bed they make is washable and dryable, so I don't have to stress over his health and cleanliness. They were also one of the only dog bed manufacturers I could find that make a huge assortment of sizes and colors. They know that one size does not fit all, a concept we haven't seen well-represented by other brands in the past. Believe me, when your household is made up of larger creatures (Nate is 6'4″, afterall), the sentiment is much appreciated.