One-year-old Gretchen has brought a lot of energy to Kenwyn Caranna’s home.

The muddy paws and slobbery kisses are back, though a wee bit smaller.

Ten months after our 14-year-old German shepherd, Heidi, left for that rainbow bridge, we’ve adopted another. One-year-old Gretchen bounced into our home three weeks ago, eager to chase our three cats, jump on the couch and grab the bread off the counter.

“Maybe we should’ve named her ‘No,’” my boyfriend, Jeff, remarked.

But Gretchen is smart and eager to please. She’s learning. She mostly waits now for our OK before dashing through the door — my leash-weary arm is thankful for that. She no longer chases the cats, though still annoys them by following them around. And she hasn’t jumped onto the couch for a couple of weeks.

As for the bread, well, we’ve just pushed that further back on the counter, which is working for now.

We got Gretchen through a friend who had found the dog hanging around a fast-food restaurant. She was underweight and had no collar. A visit to the vet revealed she had hookworms, was not spayed and had no microchip.

The doctor estimates she’s a year old and, at 43 pounds, was most likely the runt of the litter. The average weight of a female German shepherd her age is 64 pounds, according to

After Heidi, who was in the 70-pound range, Gretchen seems tiny. But she’s every bit as energetic as Heidi was in her younger days.

She runs figure-eights around our fenced-in yard, excitedly flushing the poor birds from their roost and putting our birdseed-fat squirrels on an unwanted exercise program. During her infrequent pauses, she has surely sniffed every inch of the soil and has discovered that there are peanuts in the bird food.

Inside, she’s learning to use that excess energy on her dog bone instead of pawing and tossing her empty food dish around.

The household slowly is adapting to a new, and yet familiar, routine. One that requires a bit more patience but packs a powerful love.

Contact Kenwyn Caranna at 336-373-7082.

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