Roz Terhune Was A Character & Other Notes of Past and Present

“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The women’s movement was transforming some of these outdated notions.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.

 

The Dao of Despair and Hope

Rembrandt studio, woman walking to the left
Studio of Rembrandt van Rijn, Beggar Walking to the Left, Rosenwald Collection

The election of a racist, misogynist, narcissist as president has shaken to my core.

Knowing that one half my fellow Americans think it’s okay for a man who shamed a handicapped reporter from the stage to be president earns my contempt for them.

There is no place to run and hide. A wave of far-right narrowly nationalist fervor is sweeping the planet, from India to England.

When I started this blog, I was inspired with a sense of purpose and energy for how to spend my retirement: I would find a home with a yard appropriate for me and a Doberman. I would participate in training to the highest level of excellence possible for the animal and me.

A simple plan for a total life change.

Then, whoosh, despair for the future of our great Republic swamped me — despair that so many people choose to put illusions of self-benefit above civility, the Constitution, compassion, and the law.

One person suggested that I need therapy. I think not.

Swamplands of the Soul: New Life in Dismal Places (Studies in Jungian Psychology by Jungian Analysts)

“The ultimate purpose of psychotherapy is not so much the archaeology exploration of infantile sentiments as it is learning gradually and with much effort to accept your own limits and to carry the weight of suffering on our own shoulders for the rest of our lives. Psychological work, instead of providing liberation from the causes of serious discomfort, increases it, teaching the patient to become adult and, for the first time in [her] life actively face the feeling of being alone with [her] pain and abandoned by the world” in Swamplands of the Soul, Hollis, a Jungian, quoting Carotenuto (The Difficult Art), p. 15.

After a certain age — and a certain age (often posited as post-50) is barely a shadow in the rear view mirror of life — and a certain amount of counseling and spiritual seeking, therapy is only a way of escaping the difficult realization that I am all I have.Oddly, I find these ostensibly cheerless words comforting. I even find a glimmer of hope and renewed purpose in them.

Figure walking, from back, Vuillard
Edouard Vuillard, Walking Figure Seen from Behind, c. 1894, Gift of Benjamin and Lillian Hertzberg

“We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.”

TS Eliot, Little Gidding, the last of The Four Quartets (http://www.coldbacon.com/poems/fq.html)

I was greatly influenced by The Quartets, a meditation on time, often as an undergraduate at New York University back in the days when Bob Dylan sightings at local cafes often turned out to be true. I listened to Eliot intone the words in a flat, gravely voice, on the now archaic invention of a long-playing album.

After decades of exploration, I cannot say that I know this place in life — despair — at all. I can say my current despair is a situational adjustment issue, as a therapist would frame it, and not the inner angst of youth that goaded my early consultations of this poem.

Woman working in garden, Pissarro
Camille Pissarro (French, 1830 – 1903 ), Woman Working in a Garden, Ailsa Mellon Bruce Collection

A Sufi notion suggests sometimes we are in the garden where life pleases us, and sometimes we are in the fire, where we are tested. Both are places where inner lessons may be learned.

TS Eliot reached the same idea in the final lines of The Quartets:

“And all shall be well and
All manner of thing shall be well
When the tongues of flames are in-folded
Into the crowned knot of fire
And the fire and the rose are one.”

In such stoic acceptance of reality, I find hope.

Two Things L’Ombre Taught Himself

I’ve burned a lot of pots boiling water for tea since L’Ombre died.  He taught himself several things, and one of them was coming to get me when water started boiling.

The breeder, Linda Coggins, whose name shall forever be blessed on my lips, had me start him off by mixing his crunchy food with canned food and hot water. So he came to associate boiling water with meals. Realizing he had prevented me from ruining another pan, he always got lavish praise for this.

 

How L’Ombre Came into My Life

I never really thought of myself as owning L’Ombre.  It was more like he just “came into my life” in the way that friends and lovers and mentors show up. Kismet. We were a symbiotic team. He protected me, and he had a great life going places most people can’t bring their ill-behaved hounds. He was invited to parties,

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