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Knowing German saves German shepherd in Riverside

January 28, 2009 |  3:04 pm


It was a wunder.

That's "miracle" in German, which is the same language Riverside animal control officer Tiffany Fuller used to shout commands to save a German shepherd that had been running in and out of traffic Tuesday night near the UC Riverside campus.

Campus police officers called the Riverside Department of Animal Services about 6:30 p.m. to report that a dog had been running loose in traffic along Canyon Crest and West Linden drives, near the university's track stadium, according to a statement from the department. Fuller said that when she arrived, she saw the dog wearing a pinch collar, often used to train dogs. She and police officers were able to guide the dog into a park, where Fuller was able to get a better handle on the situation.

Fuller, a former trainer of search dogs, had learned German dog commands and is the owner of a 9-year-old German shepherd, a retired tracking dog. She said she gave German commands to the dog.

"Platz!" (Down!) Fuller said.  "Bleib!" (Stay!). Bleib is shot for bleibsitzen (Stay! Keep sitting!").

Because of her background with German shepherds, Fuller was able to control the dog. She said that when the dog was calm, she approached the animal and placed a leash around its neck. She then placed the dog in her truck.

"He looked confused," Fuller said in a phone interview today. "He was trying to find his way back home. ... We're hoping we can reunite him with his owner."

The dog is being held at the Riverside animal shelter, where the owner will be required to know some unique characteristics of the dog in order to claim it, said Animal Services Capt. Tammie Belmonte. Paperwork and photographs would be helpful, she added.

"This is obviously a very smart and sweet dog -- and we want to make sure it's going back to his proper home," Belmonte said.

-- Ruben Vives

Photo: Riverside animal control officer Tiffany Fuller and the rescued German shepherd. Credit: Riverside Department of Animal Services