Sam Luzardo

sam-luzardo-profileBlack Labrador Retriever German Shepard Mix, Omnivore, Guard Dog, Family Dog, Predator Deterrent

On Saturday, November 12, 2016, the Luzardo family visited the Domestic Animal Welfare Group (DAWG) rescue, adoption and veterinarian facility in Uvita to adopt one of the dogs available for adoption who were listed and profiled on their web site. Max Luzardo had been wanting a large dog (especially a German Shepard) ever since we moved onto the Ardent Light Motherland but adopting a dog did not become a priority until Crainer Luzardo, our wild non-caged white-crowned parrot, was eaten by an opossum. Max convinced us that Crainer would have been alive today if we had a large dog to scare away other predators.

Sam checking on our cabin construction progress.

Animals such as dogs and cats are considered more advanced souls who incarnate into an animal form to choose the humans they want to help guide or teach. Sam was the first dog to approach us and get our attention with an unusual bark that did not at all sound aggressive or threatening but more like a happy greeting of a long-lost friend. We instantly bonded with Sam because he did not jump all over us or lick us in excitement but instead got quickly into a submissive pose by lying down and showing us his belly for a nice belly rub. He also was the ideal size and breed that Max wanted and looked a lot like Ngoc‘s animal spirit guide who is also a beautiful large all-black dog named Sam. He also seemed to be in good health condition with a solid body build though his belly was a bit on the plump side as we were told by the volunteer there who introduced us to Sam that he loves to eat and probably eats more than he should. DAWG estimated that Sam was around 2 years old (about 19 years old in human years, a young adult dog). Someone had taken him to their veterinary services building and anonymously left him there in July 2016 so we do not know much about his previous owner(s) or past experiences. He was found with a broken jaw and was emaciated (very thin) so he received surgery to fix his jaw and made a full recovery by the time we met Sam. DAWG also castrated, vaccinated, and gave him a parasite or de-worming treatment while he was under their care.

Sam giving us a bow of approval on the construction progress.

To help offset the cost of all these treatments, DAWG asked for 25,000 colones (about $44.76 at the exchange rate at that time) for his adoption fee. We paid the adoption fee and bought him a leash and an extension rope and took him on a 2-hour car trip home. We were very impressed with his car riding skills. We did not need to tell him or teach him how to get into the trunk of the SUV. He just hopped in himself when we opened the trunk door. He remained in the trunk the whole way mostly lying down but standing up to stretch out his legs when we were at stops. Even though it was rather hot back there with very little air circulation (he was panting a lot), he did not complain or act out and was quiet the whole way.

Fun Facts

Sam’s name at DAWG was actually Mandy. The volunteer admitted that the name is usually a female name and was perplexed as to why a male dog would be named Mandy. Mandy is an English name that means lovable or worthy of being loved. Since he looked a lot like Ngoc’s spirit animal Sam, Ngoc asked if Max, Renzi, and Allegra would agree to naming him Sam. After two hours of mulling over his name, they eventually agreed to name him Sam. Sam is a Hebrew name that means “sun child” or “bright sun” and is the short version of the Hebrew name Samuel which means “name of God” or “God has heard.” Together with the Luzardo family surname, Sam’s complete name Sam Luzardo would mean “sun child” or “bright sun” of “ardent light.”

Sam’s breed is actually called the German Sheprador and is also known by the breed name Labrashepherd. Half German Shepherd (one of the most popular dog breeds in the world) and half Labrador Retriever (the most popular dog breed in the world), they were bred to have the best of both breeds in one. Sam is about 100 pounds or 45 kilograms in weight and about 27 inches (69 centimeters) in height and his body frame is very impressive and solid. His pelt is a shiny black double coat and is waterproof and dries fast which are Labrador Retriever characteristics as they were bred to retrieve hunted animals on land and water so are great swimmers (they have webbed feet, too) and take to the water easily. Sam really enjoys hiking the rivers and swimming in the natural waterfall pools at the Ardent Light Motherland. Shepradors can tolerate warm climates but do prefer the more temperate or cooler climates of the mountains so Sam really appreciated being out of the Uvita 80-110 degree Fahrenheit beach heat and humidity and into the 60-90 degree Fahrenheit cooler, fresher, and more mild mountain climate. Like Ngoc, Sam also enjoys sunbathing regularly to tan his lighter underbelly so he can be seen in direct sunlight on his back with his belly exposed to the sun and four paws in the air.

Personality & Temperament

Sam taking a second look at the new yoga deck staircase recently constructed (2/3/2017).

Sam has the caution of a German Shepherd so does not bounce off walls like a Lab. Sam has the high intelligence and willingness to please owners of both breeds which makes him very easy to train by the owner. Both breeds are fiercely loyal to their family or pack and will do whatever it takes to protect or defend them. Sam is very good at alerting us to someone’s presence but waits our command or reads our energy very accurately whether to be concerned with the approaching person or be relaxed and friendly towards the person. He must have been previously trained by his previous owner as a guard dog because he understands very well certain attack commands that work only if issued by his owner. Once Sam understands that a stranger is a friend and not foe, he is very friendly and social but will not jump all over the person or lick them. He greets and approaches them with a non-aggressive bark and wagging tail and waits for the person to pet him or give him attention. This is why we trust Sam to be off leash at all times on the Ardent Light Motherland as he is really good at reading his owners’ energy and the energy of others, does not exhibit annoying behavior around them, and comes to you when you call for him to come.

Sam checking out the new parallel bars made on 2/11/2017 (not pictured on the right).

Sam is really good at not begging for food, but does do cute but quiet things like act like a doggie rug which might make you want to give him a dog treat when you are done eating. If he does approach you while you are eating, you can calmly push him away and he will understand that you want your space and he will respect that wish. Sam also does the cutest figure-8 dance when he sees we are about to give him his dinner bowl. He first hops up in excitement of seeing his dinner and then he dances around in a figure 8 and then immediately sits his bottom down and waits eagerly for his food bowl to be placed on the floor for him to eat. We need to capture this on video one night. It’s too darn cute!

How to Interact With Sam

Sam in a playful mood.

To maximize your enjoyment of Sam, please keep our training of Sam consistent with what we have been teaching him. We have taught him to not enter the Luzardo family house, the communal kitchen and bathroom of the rancho (our first yoga platform and tent area), and our new yoga platform and tent area. Basically, we want him to understand that human living areas, as marked by a door or entryway, are off-limits so humans can have a space they can retire to or hang out and not be bothered. It also helps us keep these spaces cleaner. Dogs respond very well to non-verbal communication so setting physical boundaries by using your body to block him from entering is well understood by Sam. To have him step back, you just need to step towards him and use your body to nudge him back calmly, or you can simply push him away with your hand calmly. Teach him to respect personal boundaries so do not let him get too close to you that he touches you unless you initiate or welcome the contact. If you do not make eye contact with him (do not pay attention to him), he usually interprets that as you not wanting to engage with him or interact with him at that moment and he will leave you alone. He does understand some verbal commands like “sit,” “come,” “back,” “go,” and “no,” but we do focus mainly on non-verbal communication or a combination of both together. If he does take something that belongs to you (or something you want back) as a way to test his boundaries with you or to initiate play with you and you do not want to engage in play and want the item back, you can stop him by holding the fold of skin on the back of his neck in one hand and then hold (not pull) the item that is in his mouth with the other hand and he will know that you want the item back and will simply let go of the item from his jaws. Sam is not known to bite people unless he is given the command to attack. He may occasionally playfully and gently bite clothes on a person but not human flesh. Labs are especially good at holding things in their mouth but not damaging them because they were trained to bring back hunted game intact. They are even purported to be able to hold eggs inside their jaws without cracking them.

Sam giving his approval of the new parallel bars made on 2/11/2017 (not pictured on the right).

He can be fed unwanted food scraps as on as it does not contain much onion, garlic, or chocolate as these can be harmful to dogs. Please give him food only when he is calm and not in an excited state. For example, we like to make him sit for at least 5 seconds before we give him any food. Being in a sitting or lying down position is a sign of relaxation, calmness, and submissiveness in a dog. Calm dogs are a lot more secure, obedient, friendlier, loving, and easier to train and manage. We promote calm behavior in Sam by rewarding him with his favorite things such as attention, belly and ear rubs, pets, massage, grooming, walks, hikes, running, swimming, food, and chasing after a ball only when he is calm. Like most dogs, Sam is not picky when it comes to food. He’ll even eat slightly putrefied food as his strong stomach acids can take care of most pathogens. However, we do not want to take any chances so we have taught him not to eat out of our compost bin and trash cans and ask that he is not fed rotten food. We have taught him to only eat the food that we put in his food bowl and drink what is in his water bowl. We have also trained him to eat out of our hand when we want to hand feed him something.

Favorite Foods

Since Sam is not a picky eater (and loves to eat) he’ll eat almost all kinds of fruits including banana; watermelon (including seeds and white part of rind); cantaloupe (including pulp and seeds); honeydew (including pulp and seeds); pineapple (without the skin); apple; papaya (including pulp and seeds); citrus such as oranges, tangerines, sweet lemons (without the peel and seeds); noni (including seeds); guava; cucumber, starfruit, etc. His favorite fruits are the sweet fruits, but he will enjoy some acidic fruits as on as they are also sweet.

Sam also enjoys raw and cooked vegetables such as carrots, pumpkin, squashes, and finely chopped greens such as spinach, kale, cilantro, katuk, cabbage, lettuce, and pretty much any other edible green as on they are mixed in with fruit (like in a fruit salad) or into a meat or rice dish and is not overpowering in their quantity or bitter flavor. Since dogs evolved from a carnivorous diet, they were used to getting most of their herbivore greens pre-digested so finely chopping greens and/or cooking them helps simulate predigested plant or vegetables. Nightshade vegetables are generally not recommended (though some say its okay in moderation) for dogs so we avoid giving him tomatoes, bell peppers, sweet or spicy chilies, potatoes, and eggplant. Sam does love cooked non-nightshade starchy root vegetables like cassava root (yuca in Spanish, where tapioca starch comes from), taro roots (all varieties), sweet potatoes (all varieties), turmeric root, and even ginger root (in very small seasoning amounts).

Sam also loves to chew and eat bones (especially in his breed which has more of a need to exercise jaw muscles and keep teeth strong and sharp). Chicken and fish bones (cooked or raw) are very easy for him to crunch and eat completely. Pork and beef bones are great chewing toys for him but if they were cooked in a pressure cooker, or for a very long period of time (e.g., 24 hours), he can eventually eat them completely too after chewing and gnawing on them for a certain period of time. Sam also enjoys crunching down an occasional egg shell every now and then for a different source of minerals.

Sam also loves his meat, fat, skin, tendons, and organs and is use to eating them mainly from grass-fed beef and chicken though he would also enjoy pork and fish when available. JAL bought Sam once a bag of beef chicharrón (deep fried beef skin usually from the belly or rump area) and Sam enjoyed crunching every bit of it as it had the crunch of a bone but also gave the fat and skin he loves, too.

It is generally recommended that the ideal diet for dogs be 50% meat (including fat, skin, and tendons), 25% bone, and 25% vegetables. Of the 25% vegetables about half of that should be leafy greens and the other half can be starchy roots and grains. Fruits should be minimal as occasional treats, but Sam really does love his fruit and has some daily. It actually really helped him detox and clean out his intestinal tract the first few weeks he was with us because he was really bloated and looked constipated on a previous diet of conventional dried dog food pellets. It was interesting that he actually refused any cooked food and meat (even raw meat and bone) the first week he was with us and only wanted raw fruits and some raw vegetables so he ate temporarily a raw vegan, mostly fruitarian diet that first week and went through a good detox and slimmed down to a healthy weight. After that, he slowly craved for the other foods and they were added to his diet accordingly over time.

Great Meditation & Leadership Teacher

Sam checking out his own shadow.

Sam has been the best meditation and leadership teacher we have ever had, especially if you are aware of this potential and welcome it. Dogs are famous for their ability to read our energy or emotional-mental state and therefore are great at mirroring our energy. If we are not calm and peaceful, they pick up on that and act it out. They will be agitated, excited, insecure, etc., depending on how you are feeling and thinking. If they are “misbehaving” or “acting out,” it usually means they have picked up on some weakness, insecurity, or darkness within you. We have learned to center ourselves and get ourselves in a meditative state when we are around Sam. He’s like a biofeedback device in that sense. This internal calmness then starts to spread to when we are not around Sam.

Sam has also been a great teacher of leadership. In the wild, dogs (like their ancestral wolf) live in packs of social hierarchy for optimal safety and security in a fight or flight survival environment. Leaders in the pack are critical for making the best decisions for the pack and are keepers of the peace. Though most dogs are genetically programmed to follow, if no one provides the proper leadership needed, then the dogs will be forced to take the leadership role and become more assertive and start initiating things. Dogs who live with humans need to see humans as leaders of the pack, otherwise, we will have a disobedient, aggressive, or insecure dog. The humans need to exhibit leadership qualities such as calmness, confidence, assertiveness (not to be confused with aggressiveness which is actually a sign of insecurity or lack of confidence), clarity, compassion, understanding, fairness, and physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual fitness. In short, leadership qualities are the qualities of our Higher Self. In order for our Higher Self to fully inhabit our physical human vehicle 100% of the time, we must heal all our wounds and insecurities (see Beyond the Earth Matrix: Soul-Harvesting in the Cosmic Matrix & How to Free Yourself blog article to learn more).

Bad Habits

The first bad habit we noticed in the beginning with Sam is that he has a tendency to cough and hack to get attention (not because he really needs to cough). After living with us for more than three months (as of the publication date of this page 2/13/2017) and getting a lot more attention from us than he got from previous owners, he now rarely coughs for attention.

The other bad habit is chasing other smaller animals like cats and dogs. Even after more than three months of trying to train him to ignore Crikey our cat, he will only ignore Crikey when we are around because if we are not around and he sees only Crikey, he’ll attempt to chase Crikey. We hope this will eventually one day stop and Crikey can go outside in peace without being chased by Sam when we are not around.