“There’s plenty of puppy left.” Roz Terhune dismissed my longing for a puppy and advised me to buy the 9-month-old L’Ombre. He already knew more about obedience work than I did.
Roz spent her life among the doggie set. In her era, the sport of conformation showing became a society enterprise. It was often supported by wealthy women who kept kennels, sometimes even employing a kennel master.
A breeder in the Midwest said the same thing — there’s still plenty of puppy left — as we discussed the difference between bonding with an older puppy and one you get so early, you are a replacement for Mom.
A Working Girl Doesn’t Need a Puppy
Roz was right when she looked at me and said, “You’re a working girl. You don’t need a puppy.”
I came to agree with her some two decades later. I was still a working gal when I got a feisty two-month-old Airedale puppy. He was well-bred, smart as game-show contestant, friendly, and showed signs of aptitudes for scent and spatial problem solving.
I was ready for a Doberman even then. I tried to tell my beloved, who was fixated on the Airedale, this was a hunting breed. I shared anecdotes about hero Airedales cornering mountain lions.
It’s always a mistake to buy a breed because you like the way it looks. Appearance is no predictor of temperament. Stanleigh spent years rescuing sheep dogs who can be protectively snappish, because people watch Disney’s shaggy dog series and get the impression this is one big cuddle bug.
People Don’t Understand the Notion of Breed
The Doberman was bred on purpose for a purpose.
Roz Terhune bred Collies at one point, and she knew Dobermans. She went around the country for FDR asking some of the best kennels to give up their dogs for the war effort inception of the Marines’ Devil Dogs unit.
I met her decades later, at the end of her life, when she was dog editor for the News American where I was working as a feature writer.
A Generational Torch Was Passing
A Sunday dog breeder column was among those fading conventions of women’s news, a section newspapers devoted to brides and engagements, club and society party news, advice columns, and news about prominent breeders and kennels. For the ladies, you understand.
The women’s movement was transforming some of these outdated notions. I was part of that new wave. Roz sat at a desk adjacent to mine when she came in once a week to write her dog column for the Sunday paper.
I didn’t know of her expertise with Dobermans nor her government war service until after she died when I wrote a commemorative obituary.
Sometimes she brought stale baked goods and insist I eat them. Sometimes I hid in the library from her chatter.
How I Ended up with a Doberman Pinscher
One night after finishing my day at the newspaper, I was mugged on my own front door steps in daylight hours. I was dragged down 11 cement steps on my back.
I missed a lot of work for most of the next year.
When Roz asked why I’d been out and heard my story, she insisted I needed a dog for protection.
A Labrador, I suggested. She looked at me with something between scorn and amazement.
She took my clueless self to an obedience training club at a high school in the suburbs. She leaned heavily on the arm of the photographer, a tall man who showed her the great respect.
There were at least 100 dogs on the floor, in four groups representing various levels of training.
“Go talk with that man over there,” she told me. “He breeds Labradors. Tell him what you want it for.”
Next Time, They’ll Take Your Dog, Too
The man chuckled. “Next time they’ll not only knock you down and take your purse, they’ll steal your dog, too.”
I reported back to Roz, seatedat the edge of the auditorium, cane between her knees. “That’s right.
You don’t need a dog that’s dumber than you are,”
she observed with satisfaction. “You need a dog that’s smarter than you are.”
She was another a wise crone who mentored me without my knowing it. She introduced me to the world of Dobermans and dog training, and I want to spend some years now among the doggie people.
Thank you, Roz. Thank you, L’Ombre. Thank you, Linda Coggins, for breeding Martin-L’Ombre and his early first-rate training and your induction of me into features of the breed.