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In Dog We Trust

What better way to start than to introduce you to the canine love of my life, my rescue doberman Fiona. I had no knowledge of dobermans, except for the terrifying, huge, black male who lived next door when I was a child in Los Angeles--Teekay. He had a bark that rattled your teeth. When he was felled by a chicken bone shard, living through surgery and coming back a lesser dog, chastened by his experience, I was amazed that something so small could take down something so large and fearsome.

Now, I live in the country--serious country, far off the beaten path. My old dog, Fergus, though still a fine fellow for a stubborn, deaf, nearly blind chow/aussie mix, is not much comfort as a watchdog, and I spend significant time here alone. So I wanted another dog, with size and attitude to alert me to danger. My significant other, as he always does, weighed in: “I’d only have a doberman,” he said. He’d had several, and loved the breed, and also loves to make edicts. I love all dogs, so I said okay. And started my search.

More edicts: my sig oth would only have a doberman with cropped ears and docked tail: “If i wanted a hound dog, I’d get a hound dog,” he said. So that was a beginning. And I wanted to rescue a dog in need of a home. That dog, however, would have to be cat friendly (seems that most dobermans look at cats and see dinner), and friendly toward other dogs (my old Fergus doesn’t need drama). All of the other doberman traits--trainable intelligence, devotion, goofiness--were fine with me. After more than six months of searching rescue sites, Southwest Ohio Doberman Rescue posted Fiona.

Fiona had been the victim of epic abuse and starvation, and had been fostered through skin infections and urinary tract infections. The scars on her hind legs were a source of mystery, until I saw a video of a dog with the same scars--this dog had been tied up to a tree by its hind legs, and used as a bait dog. Her foster mother warned me she was shy, but as soon as we met, we took to each other, and it was clearly a perfect match. Trust took a while for a dog who had suffered such abuse, but she came to see me as her person, and her love and devotion are now enormous, sometimes overwhelming. And I adore her as well. I can speak whole sentences to her, sentences she’s never heard before, and she understands me and carries out what I’ve asked. She learned “go to the garage” or “let’s go see the horses” or “go ahead” without training, just by paying attention. She howls when I have to leave her behind at home. She rarely lets me out of her sight (unless a raccoon intervention occurs, which demands her immediate attention).

She has numerous goofy habits. Seeing her chasing a butterfly, leaping and jumping and snapping at it, is beyond delightful. When she catches one, which is rare, she is so proud--she wants to walk around holding it in her mouth forever. Seeing her experiment with putting her gator-jaw around a cat’s head, ever so softly, so she can imagine what it would be like to snap it off, is hilarious. And a little scary. She hides treats in her crate, under her bedding, saving them for later--a dog who plans for the future. She gives endless attention to her gigantic, pink, stuffed triceratops, Trixie, that I got her last Valentine’s Day, wrestling with her and doing the doberman jawing and sucking that so many of them do with blankets and towels. Today, she found a good sized box turtle and brought it back to the house, trying to break it open with her jaws, as if it was a round bone. She makes me laugh every day.

My edict: Fiona is perfect. In a world where very little is. With love, she has left abuse behind, and is now happy and exuberant beyond belief, a kissing, attention-demanding dynamo. World’s greatest dog. Except for yours, of course.

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