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Dog therapy

Until very recently, I was biased against Doberman Pinschers. There, I said it. Bring out the tar and feathers. The neighborhood I grew up in had a Doberman that roamed off-leash. Keep in mind, this was not the faux pax it is now—my family let our dogs run free too.

Anyway, to my seven-year old brain, this Doberman appeared to be 200lbs of sleek, mean muscle and hungry teeth. It didn’t help that he chased me every day as I walked home from school, and the owner would come out and yell at me for running across her lawn. Now I can see the dog was protecting its property and maybe only wanted to play and wasn’t actually going to eat me—well, maybe just my leg-- but I’ve been nervous around Dobermans ever since.

Fast forward several decades to this past weekend. My husband, youngest child and I walked up the front steps of a new friend’s house when a deep booming bark rang out. You guessed it: a Doberman was inside. The family scuttled it away before answering the door, and I didn’t actually see the dog. I kept jerking around at every little noise—it was a big party so everyone thought I was having seizures—and spilling food and drink over the furniture.

Suddenly, there was a big black and tan dog in our midst headed straight for me. I turned back into a seven-year old scaredy cat and looked for a place to hide. There wasn’t one. Not only did the dog come straight for me, she wound around my knees, rubbed her head on my pants and licked my hand.

Hmm. I rubbed her ear with one finger. She pushed against me for more. No teeth in sight. Perhaps Doby’s aren’t all bad. She stayed by me for several minutes, making sure I had learned my lesson. Then, there was a high pitched bark, and she was off. Another Doberman entered the party: a puppy. I had never seen a Doberman Pincher puppy before, and I gotta say, it didn’t have any horns and was about the cutest thing with the biggest feet I’d ever seen. I was completely anti-social and fought my own child for its attentions the rest of the night.

Now that I’m a born-again Doberman lover, I’ve done some thinking. I think Dobermans, Rottweilers, maybe German Shepards, all those dogs people tend to be scared of, are just like Pit Bulls. The breed is perfectly fine. The problems come when these animals are treated poorly. I get snappish too when abused. But I’ll save my soapbox for another article.

My point, patient readers, is that even deeply engrained fears of a certain breed can be overcome with one night of huge paws, lots of slobber and puppy kisses.

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