Why would you get a dog like that? What were you thinking? You’ve got two little kids…that dog could eat them up. You know those kind of dogs are mean…vicious…attack people for no reason. These are just a few of the questions and comments we heard when we brought home a full-grown, registered Doberman Pinscher. Truthfully, I was drilling myself with the same questions in my head.
It was a beautiful summer day in Northwest Alabama when we first met Rob. My husband’s Aunt had purchased him as a pup but now had little time to spend with him and was looking to find him a good home. I have ALWAYS been an animal lover (since before I can even remember, according to my mother), but I was a little apprehensive about this guy…not because he had done anything wrong but because of the stereotype of the breed. I had never heard anything good about a doberman…no way could I take one home. Unfortunately, I was outnumbered on this decision.
Mike and our boys, age 2 and 4, ganged up on me. They had quickly fallen for this vicious beast who was devouring them with kisses and gently nudging them with his nose, to make sure his new found friends didn’t stop petting him or get too far away from him. What was this? It didn’t make sense. These dogs can’t be good pets, I reminded myself, only a few minutes before he was loaded up into the back of our small hatchback car for a 90 minute ride to his new home. Needless to say, I watched like a hawk through the review view mirror, fully expecting him to take a chunk out of our kids heads at any moment. What did he do instead?…he sat perfectly calm and contented in his crowded little spot, and our kids arrived home, not only with their ears in tact, but without even a hint of a scratch or bruise.
Over the next few days, I made it a point to watch the boys closely whenever they were around Rob, convinced that this gentle nature we had seen thus far was just a coverup for the true colors that were sure to come out at any moment, given what I believed about the vicious nature of this breed. What happened instead? About 2 weeks into my watch, our oldest son fell down the back door steps landing right on top of Rob who was sleeping at the bottom. I froze…here it goes, I thought. The dog is hurt and he’s going to eat my child alive. What did he do instead? He let out a loud groan, looked at me as if to say ‘are you gonna get this kid off of me anytime soon’ and then slowly rose to his feet, walked over to Brandon and gently licked his face. Whew, that was a close one, I thought, but in the back of my mind I was thinking, “wow, I know that must have hurt Rob but yet he showed no aggression at all”.?.?
Fast forward a couple more weeks. It was obvious Rob had quickly claimed his territory and his pack. Now things are going to change, I thought. He’s going to be so protective he will be a danger to anyone who sets foot near our house and, no doubt, it’s just a matter of time until he turns on one of the kids. I continued to keep an eye on things but clearly not a well as I thought.
As I was cooking and trying to keep an eye on the boys one afternoon, Brandon yells from the back door that Benjamin, the 2 year old, is eating dog food. Horrified, I dropped everything and went running outside to find both Rob and Benjamin happily sharing a meal of Purina Dog Chow right out of the same pan.
Mean, vicious, ready to attack anyone at any moment for no apparent reason….what was I thinking!?!? Well, I don’t know what I was thinking when I agreed to bringing this Dobe into our lives but, at this very moment, I knew that I had been wrong about Rob. This gentle giant loved us unconditionally and would never hurt any of us, in any way. I had been wrong about him. I had judged him by his stereotype…much like we do we people sometimes. Lesson learned? Those who teach us the most about humanity aren’t always human.