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The women’s movement was transforming some of these outdated notions.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

 

Doberman Pinschers: Breeding Counts

Breeding counts for Doberman Pinschers, perhaps more than for many other breeds. They are powerful, intelligent, and have a strong drive to relate to humans.

Last night, I was studying the bloodlines of the late great L’Ombre. My heart beat a little faster when I reviewed the many outstanding champions in his background.

The World of Doberman Pinschers does a fine job of tracing the histories of the great kennels in the USA and other countries. (This site earns a small commission if you click through from this ad to the amazon site.)

It also explains the basic principles about the breed I learned from the breeder and the excellent trainers at the Baltimore Kennel Club who taught me to handle this animal of distinction.

Most people just want a family dog who won’t dirty in the house, is fun for the kids, likes to chase frisbees, and barks without being aggressive when strangers come into the yard.

And that’s enough for most people.

Dobermans may make excellent family pets, but that is not what they were bred to do.  Their outstanding intelligence and train-ability is squandered.

Chaining a Dobe to stake in the yard and slopping food and water down is a crime. It is not wonder these super-brains and super-athletes of the dog world go nuts in such circumstances.

Upon announcing my plans to train another Doberman, a reader of another site remarked on my fur baby.

I never considered L’Ombre my baby; he was my best friend and my guardian. We were a team. Training becomes a dao — a path that you follow together in almost telepathic communication.

I urge anyone considering adding a Doberman Pinscher to your home to do your homework. Do you have the time and interest to make full use of the considerable abilities of this elegant, powerful, and active creature?

This dame developed a bit of agoraphobia when I was dragged down 11 cement steps by a mugger. L’Ombre was my escort and was often invited to parties with me — including one Christmas dinner at my minister’s home.

I realize that over these past dozen years I have become isolated, because fear of being alone walking about still affects me. I like walking around my world and seeing the sights, so I am looking forward to this special teamwork again.

It is well worth changing my life to make it so.