Risk, Responsibilities and Big, Daft Dogs

24 Jan

I am lost. I tried to resist but I was only kidding myself. I’m in love. And he loves me back. It’s led to an awkward  triangle situation and my new love has been duffed-up a couple of times by my old love. I still hope to find a way for the three of us to live together in harmony, though.

Big, butch and still only a baby

Big, butch and still only 18 months old.

Isn’t he lovely? How could any dog-lover not be smitten by such magnificence? Let me state, here and now, that I’m still deeply in love with Floyd. We are best mates and his place on my bed is sacrosanct but this post is about Eric. My sister asked me to write this – more specifically, she asked me to write about giving a home to a rescue-dog. Especially a rescued adult Doberman.

There are many wonderful charities looking after or re-homing disadvantaged or mistreated animals and it was through one of these that Eric came into our world. He’s not our first ‘rescue’ animal, he’s not even our first rescue Doberman, but it’s only since he joined my family that I noticed how many rescue-dogs are out there. It seems that every second dog I meet is rescued. I met a gorgeous Bull Mastiff/Great Dane cross, the other day, who leaned companionably against my leg whilst I chatted to her foster-carer about the cigarette burns that covered her body when she was finally brought out of the shed where she’d been kept for three years.

Thank goodness for the rescuers, foster-carers and forever-homers and what a terrible shame that any creature ever needs rescuing from cruelty.

Giving a home to a dog is very satisfying. It gives you a warm glow. Reputable rescuers will come to inspect you and your home before you get anywhere near any dogs. They’ll suss you out and decide if you know what you’re talking about, then they’ll tell you all about your prospective dog. This may take all of fifteen seconds. Did the dog come to them with its history? Probably not. Is their knowledge of the dog merely what they’ve been able to observe since they’ve had it? Probably. But the important thing here is, they trust you. Having seen your home, heard your experience and met your other animals (should you have some), the rescuers agree to let their damaged doggy come and stay with you. Yipee!

Hopefully, if they are a reputable group, they’ll come back and see that the dog has settled in and that there are no problems but … There is going to come a time when it’s just you and the dog and you have to get on with it.

Eric came with some basic training already but in a new environment some of it went straight out of his head – including house-training. Oh yes, my bedroom is where the back door leads to the garden and as Eric is not good at asking to be let out, I have discovered many a mountainous dog poo on my carpet. Thank god for reasonably priced steam cleaners.

I grew up with a prejudice against Dobermans. We had various dogs throughout my childhood – a Great Dane (rescued), a black and tan mongrel (rescued), a Canary Island dog (rescued), a pie-dog and many others but alongside these we always had an Alsatian (German Shepherd). That was my father’s preferred breed and Sis and I grew up with a long line of huge, fearsome and utterly lovely dogs.

We weren’t afraid of big, fierce dogs but Dobermans? My mum said they weren’t to be trusted. She said you couldn’t read their expressions and I believed her.

I’d just joined a ship when Sis rang and told me she’d been given a badly beaten two-year-old Dobe that she had called Alfie. I was not pleased. I thought she’d lost her marbles. Then I met Alfie. Game over, I was in lurve. What a dog. We walked miles together, Alf and me. He is an utter gentleman (unless you’re a waterfowl minding it’s business on the river …) and I fell in love with his breed. I might even say that if asked to make a choice, I’d pick a Dobe over an Alsation now! Alfie is still around but he lives in quiet retirement with a dear friend and we don’t see much of him. He’s happy, that’s all that counts.

Alfie – still looking mighty fine for a twelve-year-old (-ish)

Now we share our lives with the great lumbering oaf that is Eric. It’s all Alfie’s fault. He responded so well to my sister’s kindness and patience and blossomed into a big, barmy, but always gentle friend so when Eric came up as needing help, we knew he was the one for us. But have we bitten off more than we can chew?

Eric is responding to training but it’s a long process and, now that we have the internet at our fingertips, I have researched and discovered that Dobes are prone to bouts of bloody-mindedness. That explains a lot, I can tell you. If you’re ever in the west country, passing a large muddy field, and you’re accosted by a black missile that’s being chased by a woman shouting ‘come back here you sodding dog,’ you’ll know that Eric is having an off day. Luckily, unlike Floyd, Eric is mostly friendly when we’re out but what if he wasn’t. My sister and I are tall and strong and as long as we pay attention, Eric can’t pull either of us off our feet but what if he decided to go for one of us? Let me reassure you that he has never, ever given us cause to believe that he would but we don’t forget that we are sharing our home with what could be a lethal weapon. It’s a sobering thought when the dog rescuers have gone away and you’re the one who’s responsible for such an animal but then that’s the risk you take with any dog, I suppose. It’s just that taking on an adult – and a very big and powerful one with a difficult past at that – is perhaps upping the ante a bit.

Having said all of that, though, Eric is actually about eighteen months old. Still a puppy in many ways, he needs to cuddle at night. A Doberman is a very ‘in your face’ dog and will be two inches away from you wherever you go but Eric’s extra tactile and from about 8pm onwards, he must be snuggled up to his favourite human of the moment. (Our TV volume is turned up high in the evenings because Eric, Floyd and Rufus snore like the horn section in the Royal Philharmonic – eeeeeee it’s great living with animals.)

Early evening harmony in our front room

Early evening harmony in our front room

At bedtime he goes with either sis or me. He’s supposed to sleep on the floor, on his bed, but the poor dear suffers from the cold ( Another Dobe trait. Try getting him to go out for a wee when it’s raining. Hah!) so really he needs the warmth of the bed… And he is very cuddly … And now that we’ve adjusted his diet, the farting has almost stopped.

So there you are, Little Sis, I have warned the blogosphere of the trials, tribulations and risks of re-homing rescue-dogs. I have written specifically of the difficulties of living with a maltreated Doberman. Hopefully, I have put off all but the most determined of dog-lovers. Those who don’t mind being woken from a nap by a heavy-duty rope ragger being dropped in their laps because someone wants to play tug-of-war. Those who can cope with an animal that stands 27″ at the shoulder curling up on their knees. Those who can deal with the knowledge that the kitchen units are just not high enough to stop the dog nicking any food that isn’t nailed down.

Those who understand that a Doberman isn’t a pet, he or she is a right royal pain in the arse who WILL take over your life and make you profoundly grateful that they did.

For all you Floyd fans out there, here’s a picture to show you that he is still house boss Cos that’s actually Eric’s bed he’s invaded) and he’s secure enough in his masculinity to carry off that dressing gown.


Posted by on January 24, 2013 in Family Life


Tags: , , , ,

19 responses to “Risk, Responsibilities and Big, Daft Dogs

  1. atwbaker

    January 24, 2013 at 7:27 am

    Alfie sends his love to you all and would like to assure Eric that, even though the diet has changed and “gaseous incidents” will be fewer, the severity of the aforementioned farts will stay at lethally dangerous levels. This is guaranteed to delight any canine as he watches the look of realisation and disgust dawning on the agonisingly twisted faces of his bipedal companions. xxx

    • Lorraine Gouland

      January 24, 2013 at 3:14 pm

      We all send huge love back to Alfie and I know you enjoy every day with him (except for the habit of bowling people over).
      I won’t pass on the info about the ‘gaseous incidents’ cos I don’t want to encourage him! Might I also add that Floyd is no innocent in this respect … XXX

  2. jules mcgowan

    January 24, 2013 at 8:39 am

    Ah dear.. I’m still wiping the tears from my eyes. This made me laugh so much. And the pic of Floyd in his dressing gown is priceless!

    • Lorraine Gouland

      January 24, 2013 at 3:15 pm

      So glad it made you laugh – I’ve been working on it for some weeks. Floyd is one stylish dude eh?

  3. observer40

    January 28, 2013 at 11:52 pm

    Still waiting for the rap sheet on Moriarty

  4. observer40

    January 29, 2013 at 10:45 am

    Still waiting for the rap sheet on Moriarty.

  5. Observer 40

    January 31, 2013 at 12:23 am

    Still waiting for the rap sheet on Moriarty

  6. Observer 40

    March 5, 2013 at 7:38 pm

    Re the long silence.
    Have you sailed off to better climes ?
    Are we cast adrift ?

  7. Sharon

    April 5, 2013 at 8:04 pm

    Hi Lorraine,
    Just recently found you site. Whilst I’m deemed as a landlubber! have a love of the sea. I’ve laughed at many of your posts, and have to agree that the majority of people know anything of the Merchant Navy. My grandfather and my late husband served in the Merchant Navy. I find your tales of the sea inspirational. Thank you.
    Please give a hug to those beautiful boys, especially the dobermans.
    Have to agree with you Dobermans are so lovable. Had two, lost my first one age 18 months, the second one lived 14 half years, they were the best dogs I’ve ever had.

    • Lorraine Gouland

      April 8, 2013 at 11:29 pm

      I have to agree with you, Dobermans are truly loveable dogs. I never ever thought I’d say that a few years ago but, then, I’d never shared my life with one. Now that I have, I’m hooked.
      I’m thrilled that you like my sea stories – what were your grandfather and husband (if I may ask), deck or engine or catering?

      • sawhibberd

        April 9, 2013 at 1:12 pm

        Pleased to hear that you’re hooked. Grandfather was connected with engine, if my memory serves me right!. lol whilst Bill, was midshipman before he left to get married to first wife.(I’m 2nd) I’m not responsible for that, but he always regretted leaving. He was stationed on Tankers. Could see his love of the sea when we went on cruises. That chapter of my life closed with his untimely death in 2009. My introduction to the sea, came via work with the Lifeboat at Blackpool, then the work environment in Shipping (Customs, Accounts etc). Now I’ve just recently become involved with someone who works on one of the ships you mentioned in your blog.

      • Lorraine Gouland

        April 12, 2013 at 11:14 pm

        Ooh Golly, I wonder if I’ve met your new friend! So you too have had a life connected with the oggin. It gets into your blood doesn’t it? My not so young man is an engineer but I try not to hold that against him …

      • sawhibberd

        April 13, 2013 at 12:36 pm

        We certainly need engineers, don’t knock in any shape or form! Yes, I’ve had a connected life to the sea. Miss it, but compensate by having a large reservoir at the top of my garden now! Additionally, I notice we have something else in comment, a passion for writing, I’m currently studying English Literature & Creative Writing at Huddersfield University and still write for the Wedding Industry. With regard to my friend, Yes, I believe you have met him, especially from the comments you made on this blog, relating to your article “She ain’t no string chicken” and the First Mate!” (Comments to personal email please!)

      • Lorraine Gouland

        April 14, 2013 at 10:16 pm

        So a water baby and a writer? I hope your studies are stretching you and giving you confidence?
        As to knocking engineers, I’m from the Deck Dept so baiting engineers is in my job description – only in the name of friendly banter, though. I cannot bear those individuals that take it seriously (tho for hundreds of years ships didn’t have engines never mind engineers tee hee)

      • sawhibberd

        April 15, 2013 at 2:41 pm

        Absolutely enjoying the course, can’t wait for the 2nd year to start. Have made a career out of baiting people in a friendly manner, but then again I do have a wicked sense of humour, but like yourself, I can’t tolerate anyone that takes it seriously. Goodness help them if they get on the wrong side of me lol!

      • Lorraine Gouland

        April 15, 2013 at 9:19 pm

        I shall remember that! 🙂

      • sawhibberd

        April 15, 2013 at 9:49 pm

        I don’t think you have anything to worry about, I believe we came out of the same pea pod, lol 🙂


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