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.
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.
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.)
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.