In 1986 I purchased my first home for one reason only - to have a fenced yard so I could buy a Doberman. I moved into my house in April, and in July I brought my little puppy "Chelsea" home. It also happened to be the same year I suffered an injury that left me permanently disabled. Little did I know the impact "Chelsea" would have on my life. She was my best friend, and a few years down the road became my service dog.
But one other great thing came out of our relationship. I became a DRU volunteer. I first started by doing home checks and of course, "Chelsea" always came with me. People fell in love with her and she helped many Dobes get adopted.
"Chelsea" gave me a reason for living and became the center of my life. As I could not bend, she learned to pick up things even as small as a dime, and also to bring me my walker. She loved to go grocery shopping and would help pull the cart and get items off the shelves for me. In the house she got clothes out of bottom drawers, even helped carry laundry and learned to fold sheets. She also was able to predict my chronic migraines and alert me so I could take medication to lessen the attack. We visited many schools and groups, showing people what service dogs could do, and even helped some get dogs. She also changed the thoughts of many in regard to Dobermans, as everyone just gravitated toward her.
When "Chelsea" was five, I fostered my first Dobe for DRU - an abandoned and abused young dog. I named him Zephyr, because despite his abuse, to me he was A Gentle Breeze as is the definition of Zephyr in the dictionary. Well, we just couldn't let him go and I adopted Zephyr. He and "Chelsea" were the best of friends. When we would do home checks, I would bring both of them and Zephyr, having natural ears, made many who had put "cropped only" down on their applications, change their minds and adopt natural eared dobes. He also became both a therapy and service dog and would join us when we visited various places.
Little did I know that 18 months later "Chelsea" would be diagnosed with terminal liver disease. Without Zephyr I don't know if I could have handled it. He gave me strength and comfort.
Zephyr had learned everything "Chelsea" could do as a service dog just by watching her. He was amazing. He even could take the socks off my feet without touching my toes. During "Chelsea's" illness, Zephyr began to take over the house duties, giving "Chelsea" a rest. He could pick up anything, get the cordless phone, carry bundles, helped with the laundry - he was a godsend. I don't know what I would have done if he was not with us.
"Chelsea" survived 15 months after her diagnosis. She passed away in my arms on a rainy and windy Friday night, 4 months to the day after celebrating her 8th birthday, knowing it would be her last. Zephyr and I grieved together.
Zephyr continued to be my inside helper and demo dog, visiting many schools and community groups, as well as Children's Hospital. He came with me on our DRU home checks, often sitting in the laps of prospective adopters. He won many hearts and helped many Dobes get adopted.
Zephyr is almost 9 now and retired, but he still helps in the house, and he loves to show off at DRU's annual picnics. His favorite place is on the loveseat, and he loves to watch TV. Although I have a new service dog, he and Zephyr are the best of friends, and Zephyr likes his job of being the house protector when Keefe and I are out. Life would not be complete for Zephyr if he didn't get his apple everyday and have DRU's picnics to look forward to so he can show off to everyone just what a great service dog a Doberman can be.
Ann & Dobes
With "Chelsea" , "Keefe" & "Zephyr" waiting at Rainbow Bridge. To own a Dobe is a privilege. To be owned by a Dobe is an honor! Have you ever been given a 2nd chance? If so, please consider Dobe Rescue!
If you have any questions, you can email me at: Dobesforme@aol.com
Or, you can visit my website at Dobesforme's New Home Page