Saturday, May 5, 2012

Dobermans.

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.


3 comments:

  1. Wonderful post and I could not agree with you more!

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts!

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  2. I agree, I've always been impressed and inspired by your knowledge of and commitment to your dogs, as well as your dogs themselves. And it never fails to amaze me how little people know about the breeds that they own or choose to get. I'm still learning on pits (and Bailey is not exactly breed standard for a pit, but close enough that I care) and I'll be continuing to learn the rest of my life. She's not like owning a normal breed, there's much more to take into account with her than the average dog, between her athleticism and the way her brain works. She's an easy dog as far as pits are concerned but she still has her challenges.

    I remember a couple of years back my friend Kelly was talking about how her sister and brother in law wanted to get a puppy, which was already a dubious idea since both of them traveled a lot and worked very long hours. Her sister had never owned a dog before, and her husband had only had a shitzu as a kid. Kelly told me they'd chosen the breed they wanted-

    "They saw it in some movie... I think it was Chinese or Japanese."
    "... Wait, was the movie 'Hachi?"
    "yeah that was it!"
    "YOUR SISTER DOES NOT NEED AN AKITA THAT'S ABOUT THE LAST DOG THEY NEED!"

    Don't worry they adopted to shelter kitties instead.

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  3. This post was lovely. But I am, ahem, one of those people who have an oversized Doberman. Rhett is from the Kimbertal line and adopted by us at 7 months 64 lbs)I believe, because he was difficult to control. Cearly nobody kept up with his training. We did potty training, how to navigate stairs, miss manners classes, how to climb into bed without trampling the other occupants, you name it. All stuff you teach a small puppy, but he was HUGE and just now getting all of that. We would hear what sounded like a faucette running and it would be him taking a lakesized leak in the living room. He reeked from Science Diet. After transitioning him on natural/organic/holistic foods, we realized wow, he smells great now and like he is supposed to! The best way to describe Rhett, other than movie star handsome, is that he is the Arnold Schwarzeneggar of Dobermans. People constantly comment at the park that no other doberman compares. At 115 lbs and now (thankfully) fully grown, he is leggy, agile, tall, and very horsey. Rhett literally stops traffic. Folks constantly compliment him and fawn over him and Rhett loves all the attention. I'd like to put him in movies. He will be 3 years old April 17th and is very healthy. His line has a lot of 14 and 16 year olds so we are hopeful. Rhett is a pleasure to behold. People who see him say 'Show dog' or 'Thats a Textbook Doberman' or 'you can see the quality' but you are correct, the boy is way too big. That stated, we would not have our Rhett any other way.

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