I don't really know how else to title this post.
I've had Dobermans for more than a decade. I have been blessed with an amazing mentor, who has probably forgotten more about Dobermans than I will ever learn in my lifetime. Through my mentor, I've been able to meet so many wonderful assets to this versatile breed that I love with all my heart. It all began with a pet bitch.
Let me tell you, that dog was my entire world. She's the reason why I'll never be without a Doberman, and why I'll never own anything but Dobermans from here on out.
Yep, that's Ilsa, tackling a tire. She was ball crazy, toy crazy, food crazy, you name it. She was incredible. In a way I failed her, because I never knew what to do with all that drive except to make her into a kick-ass pet. She never quit on me, not once, even though she was my first dog and I made a ton of mistakes with her.
Soon thereafter I got my second Doberman. A decent sized chunk of his pedigree was what most people would consider "working lines." He was another great dog, and another dog whose full potential was never tapped. Like Ilsa, Ronin was an exceptional pet.
... even if I did find this sign on his crate one day, after leaving him in the care of the guy I eventually ended up marrying.
Neither one of them was around long enough. It wasn't anyone's fault, but it did teach me how much of a "heartbreak breed" this really is. Dobermans aren't a healthy breed, and anyone that tells you otherwise is either naive or hiding something. That may not be a popular thing to say, but I'm saying it. The best we can do, as guardians of this breed, is to know what we have and to support breeders who care about the health of their dogs.
I feel my breeder does an excellent job of this. Not only does she health test, but she knows her pedigrees like the back of her hand. She has been breeding for 40 some-odd years, and in that time she's gained enough first-hand knowledge of the dogs in her pedigrees to fill a library. Ten libraries. But that's neither here nor there, I'm rambling. I'm trying to say my piece without saying the wrong thing, or taking things too far, or unintentionally sounding stupid, or... whatever.
Anyway, after Ilsa died, I got Kaylee. She has been my rock-star dog. If ever I could point to one of my dogs, past or present, and say, "that's the type of Doberman that I'd like to forever have in my life," Kaylee would be that dog. She does everything I ask of her, and more. My guess is that the day she dies, she'll still be asking me "what can we do next, Mom?"
Ah yes, then there's Jayne. Jayne is a great dog too - all of my Dobermans have been great dogs. He's liking his new sport, and he's improving every time we train. He got his first sleeve bites today, which lit up my day because I had no idea when he'd ever be given the chance to bite a sleeve. Part of me was paranoid that he'd be on a pillow forever. My silly kissy boy is growing up!
But what I like most about Jayne is that he's even tempered. He's sweet, he's loving, he's not afraid of weird noises or variable surfaces. He's reliable. He's not spooky, and he doesn't "fly off the handle" at non-threatening stimuli. He thinks before he acts. I can trust this dog. He'll never find himself on a podium but I'm okay with that - I know what I have, and what I have is an easygoing, club-level dog that I can learn on without worrying about whether or not I'm not doing him justice. This dog is giving me all that he's got, and that's all I ever ask. The next Doberman I get will be "better suited" for the sport, but for now I'm content with learning the game with my best friend.
I'm no idiot. I don't pretend to know everything about Dobermans, because in truth I still have a lot to learn. In Doberman High, I'm still a pimply sophomore getting shoved into lockers by the seniors. But I do know enough to know what makes a good Doberman, and I know enough to be able to identify a poor specimen of the breed. Here's just a bit of what I do know....
Breeders should health test, and know the health of their lines. Breeders and owners should know the scope of the breed's known health problems. There is no excuse for not breeding without any knowledge of the health of your breeding stock. Any breeder that doesn't have health as a top priority is not doing right by the breed, and should not be celebrated.
Dobermans are a thinking breed. A Doberman should be trustworthy, level-headed and true. Even as puppies, Dobermans should be confident and aware of their surroundings, and be able to adapt to their environment with grace and fortitude.
Dobermans are a medium sized breed, and any boast of an oversized Doberman is not impressive in the slightest. A 110lb Doberman is akin to a 95lb Malinois, or an 80lb Springer Spaniel, or a 40lb Pomeranian - it's inappropriate for the breed.
Dobermans aren't cheap, because "doing it right" when it comes to breeding and raising Dobermans isn't cheap. See above, where I talk about health. As long as a breeder is doing the applicable health testing and titling their dogs in something, there is no reason why they cannot or should not charge what they do for their puppies. I'm not forcing you to buy a Doberman - if you don't like the price, that's fine. Get another breed, or give a home to one of the many wonderful, deserving Dobermans in rescue. But do not expect to get a Doberman from a good breeder for the price of a tricked-out iPad.
I obviously know more about the breed than that, but those were the major points I wanted to hit on tonight. I think I've said most of what I wanted to say without getting upset or pissed off or frustrated.
Dobermans are my breed. I love them more than I love anything. I won't abandon them - not in the pursuit of titles or fame or fortune. I am proud of my dogs, and I always will be.