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Cat Fish and Dobermans do NOT mix!.... Yet....

It ALWAYS seems like a “good idea” at the time…

Tim and I have been together now for just over eight years. When we met, Tim didn’t have any dogs (but had experience) and lived in a nice condo. I had Gunner (Doberman), Blaze (Doberman), Liar (Doberman) and Taxi (small terrier cross who THOUGHT she was a Doberman) and lived on an acreage.

To say there was a bit of a lifestyle change for Tim is an understatement. To appreciate this, we must understand the Doberman breed, so give me a few seconds to explain.

Dobermans, when bred for purpose, are a personal protection dog. This means that, in my opinion, they don’t really care about what’s going on in the yard per se but they REALLY care what’s going on with their person and their personal space. This is the main reason they call Dobermans “Velcro Dogs” it’s in their blood to be on you or around you at all times. This way, they can ensure YOU are protected.

Where “bred for purpose” Dobermans have this natural tendency, it’s also on you to teach them the difference between a real threat and not. Ideally, you do this by exposing them to many different scenarios as a puppy and help them through the learning process. Hopefully, by the time Dobermans are two to three years old, they have an understanding of “true threats” worthy of protection and those situations where protection is not so much required.

So let’s bounce around a bit here.

Tim and I spend our time like plain and simple “regular folk”. We enjoy our dogs, outside stuff, curling up for a good movie, going out for ice cream but one of our favorite pastimes is fishing!

In the winter, Tim and I ice fish like crazy and come spring thaw we’re eager to get the fishing boat in the water in the hopes of landing the illusive Master Angler Greenback Walleye which is only found in Manitoba!

If you know me, my blogs are 99.9% canine related but today we’re going to take a walk on the wild side and mix it up a little bit with some fishing.

Two years ago, Tim and I purchased my mom and dad’s house on Netley Creek. Netley Creek isn’t so much a creek as far as I’m concerned. It’s actually quite a large body of water that has both wide and narrow points and feeds directly into the Red River which in turn, feeds into Lake Winnipeg. Netley Creek maintains an average depth of about 5’ for almost all of it with little to no current. The Red River though, drops to a depth of 15’ or more and can have substantial current.

Back to the Doberman… Dobermans are not known to be the most graceful swimmers. In fact, out of all four Dobermans we’ve had, only Blaze was the “swimmer” and I use that term INCREDIBLY loosely.

For a visual, Blaze wore a life jacket, would jump off the dock to fetch something and would thrash like her life depended on it all the way back to shore. Blaze actually enjoyed this thrashing but the neighbors looked at us as though we were intentionally trying to drown her.

So teach them how to swim right?!?

I grew up with a Labrador Retriever. They, like many other breeds of dogs, are built to swim. After spending hours upon hours, days upon days trying to teach various Dobermans how to swim, I did research.

It is said that because they have such a muscular build, the Doberman naturally sink with little fat to keep them afloat. The Doberman has a very deep chest which cause them to be “tippy” from side to side as they breathe. The Dobermans coat is very short and doesn’t retain air to help them float. Their paws are “cat like” to mean that they are short and tight and not made for “paddling”. Lastly, because of typically docked tails, they lack a “rudder” system. Add this all together and it doesn’t give a strong case for a swimming dog!

Either way, I gave up “teaching” our Dobermans to swim and we ensure they wear lifejackets just in case!

Gia is a 2.5 year old, female Doberman who was returned to her breeder and then given to Tim and I.

When we got Gia, we were told that she was a very nice girl, “typical Doberman” but had shown some dog aggression issues as well as “red zone aggression” issues when someone came to the door. We accepted Gia for who she is with the intent on helping her work through these issues.

After four months of having Gia, she is an amazingly affectionate young girl who attached to us very quickly. We absolutely adore her but she is very high energy which is typical “Doberman” and fully accepted that upon her arrival. She does though, have issues with understanding legitimate “threats” to our safety as opposed to things that are scary but non-threats.

Case in point, the large yellow floaty rubber ducky that washed up onto our shoreline two weeks ago.

Gia went a side of crazy I’ve never seen before! Hackles up from bum to forehead, barking and frothing at the mouth, standing on two legs – the COMPLETE Doberman “I’ll kick you’re a$$” display… Gia gave a very impressive and formidable show of dominance, all for a large floaty rubber ducky. However, after I exposed her to it, let her work through the terrifying moment she did settle but it took time.

A week later when the large floaty Unicorn washed up on our shore, she had a significantly more controlled response of a simple “woo woo” and prancing around. This is progress by patience, teaching and exposure.

Let’s jump to the boat!

Tim and I have spent a lot of time exposing both Liar and Gia to the boat and all the joys that can come with it. In fact, uttering the words “boat ride” has just as much significance as the words “car ride” in our home now! As many typical dog people experience, those words have become magic to both Liar and Gia’s ears!

So let’s get to the story…

Yesterday morning I woke up for some reason at 4:15 am and didn’t have an afternoon nap. This is important because I’m blaming my exhaustion for my poor understanding of reality.

After a long day of Tim working outside and me working inside, we sat down at around 6:00 pm for a wonderful supper of roast done to perfection in the slow cooker. All the fixings were enjoyed by Tim, Liar, Gia and I including mashed potatoes, corn, peas and even gravy.

Then it happened…

With our bellies full and “lunch drunk” starting to kick in, Tim suggested that he and I head out in our 17’ fishing boat to Breezy Point in search of the illusive Manitoba Greenback Walleye.

After a few moments of thought (EXHAUSTED thought), I came up with the wonderful idea of taking the dogs for their first fishing trip. What a WONDERFUL, peaceful evening this could be… SAID NOBODY RATIONAL AT ANYTIME, EVER!

As I got the minnows and started packing our bag, Tim said the magic words “boat ride” which started the pacing and whining excited frenzy out of both Liar and Gia… To the front door, to the back door, to the mud room where their collars are, back to the front door… REPEAT.

Collars on, we all proceeded outside to the Gazebo where the fishing gear and life jackets are with both Liar and Gia running around us, wearing goofy grins, whining and spinning madly. As Tim took all the fishing gear to the boat, I got both Liar and Gia into their life jackets and we too headed off to the boat. Yay! What fun we’re going to have right?!?

It’s approximately a 15 minute drive on the water with the motor opened wide up on our fishing boat. However, the dogs haven’t experienced that speed so we took it gradual. By the time we got to the narrow part of the creek which winds its way up to Breezy, we were going at a pretty good clip and Gia was standing very proudly at the bow with her nose into the wind. I’ll admit, I had pride! She’s a stunning girl and the sight from shore would have been amazing I’m sure.

As we got closer to Breezy Point, I started feeling a little bit of nervous butterflies in my stomach. I know Liar and Gia can’t swim, I know the water is deep, yes they’re wearing life jackets but what if… What if?!? WHAT IF?!? Settle down!

We got to Breezy Point, got to “our spot”, dropped anchor which Gia found to be an interesting concept and believe it or not, everything seemed to be quite relaxed!

In previous boat rides, both Gia and Liar have behaved quite well! Liar chooses to lean against me and watch the world go by whereas Gia typically walks around the boat ever so casually sniffing the air. On the odd occasion she’s given passing boats a strong “woo woo” but nothing over the top and usually a firm “knock it off” settles her quickly.

Everything at Breezy Point was going 100% to plan… Beautiful evening, very little wind, no boat traffic and even very little shore traffic. We had brought the dog bed so as both Liar and Gia could curl up and snooze when things got boring. Then the Deer Flies found us! In fact, INVASION of the Deer Flies happened which, quite frankly, Stephen King should consider for his next book.

The Deer Flies were relentless! For those unaware, these larger but somewhat slow moving flies swarm and bite like… well… (Insert potty mouth).

I’m a fairly relaxed person… I deal with these invasions by minding my own business and when one opts to land on me, I swat them, kill them and throw the body overboard. Easy peasy, chicken sneezy. Tim, on the other hand handles these invasions a tad differently.

SIDE NOTE: Tim’s not much of a reader and I’m hoping that 1) he follows suit and doesn’t read this blog and 2) nobody tells him…

When the first Deer Fly showed up, Tim let out a rather high pitched screech that many might have thought came from a young female. He proceeded to jump up, whip off his ball cap and start flailing his arms about in the boat much to the alarm of Gia who obviously took this as a sign of “personal threat”.

The Deer Flies obviously heard Tim scream like a little girl and called all their Deer Fly friends and gave directions to our party.

Liar is not a fan of people running around, waving caps, swearing, high pitched screaming and overall panic. Liar shows this by running to mommy.

Picture it:

Beautiful evening with the clouds reflecting on the still waters… The occasional fish jumping to the surface for a quick meal of a bug… The peace and tranquility of the Pelicans swimming around effortlessly…. Tim screaming like a little girl and flailing his arms about like he’s on fire… Gia spinning madly and running from the front of the boat to the back of the boat where Tim is apparently dying… Karen TRYING to calmly fish with Liar, a 90lb Doberman sitting on her lap… Ahhhh… So glad we tried this…

After approximately 20 minutes of complete chaos, Tim’s screams lowered to casual and only occasional yelps, Gia stopped lunging and actually became quite good at catching the Deer Flies, squishing them and spitting the mulched bodies onto the floor of the boat and even Liar, still sitting on my lap, stopped his incessant whining and clinging. I had hopes for a future! We WERE going to catch fish!

Then it happened…


Tim: Rod tip dances a bit… “Whoa!”

Karen: Looking over casually around Liar… “Get him baby! You can do it!”

Gia: Still chasing deer flies…

Liar: “Mommy… mommy… mommy… Flailing… Swearing… Mommy…”

Tim: With a mighty set, hooks onto something… “Holy SHIT! Got ‘em!”

Karen: Putting her rod down, wriggling out from underneath Liar to get the net.


Gia: Casually looking over... “WTH?!?”

Then all heck broke loose.

They say when you have near death experiences or traumatic events that time slows down. You forget some things and yet other moments of said trauma stay in your mind forever… Looking back, I remember that Tim’s rod REALLY bent signifying a darn good sized fish. I remember getting really excited and grabbing the net and tripping over one of the dogs on my way to Tim… I remember the net not being able to reach the fish as Tim got it to the surface… I remember Tim swearing excitedly and repeatedly to “extend the net”…

I extended the net all right. Extended the net to the point where the actual net part fell off the whole pole and into the drink beside the fish! As it started to sink (the net) I started flailing about with a long pole looking for the net to get the net (which we don’t have – who would?!?). Then it dawned on me to use the pole. Might I add, all my flailing of the net less pole actually caused both Liar and Gia to view said pole as now aggressive and obviously a threat to our person.

“Tim… stay calm… you can do this… let me fix this… Liar… Sit the F%^& down! Gia… Knock it off!” I exclaimed somewhat calmly as I used the bare pole to catch our sinking net JUST IN TIME.

“Frick sakes! What the F%^&?!? Are you new?!? Hurry up already!” Tim lovingly (said nobody ever) shouted repeatedly as he continued to fight the mighty fish.

So… After approximately 10 minutes or five hours (it seemed) of me fighting to fix the extended net, I managed to scoop up Tim’s fish and we got it into the boat! As a side note, I probably would have had it fixed faster if I wasn’t trying to grab dogs that were running about madly, and had some loving, positive encouragement from my soul mate. But now’s not the time to nitpick.

Our lovely, pristine waters contain a very large variety of species of fish. While Tim and I were hunting for the illusive Greenback Walleye, in this case, Tim hooked onto a rather large size Catfish which I can appreciate many enjoy catching. I however, do not. In fact, those long whiskered, no scale having, nasty writhing creepy fish scare the CRAP out of me! Apparently, they have the same effect on Dobermans as well. I know this as this is where the chaos really took off.

I submit with this blog, one of only TWO good pictures of the Catfish Tim caught, but please know there’s about 200 pictures on my phone covering that maybe 20 seconds of time. You should also know that this picture was the FIRST picture I took, then the fish jumped which elicited a rather unexpected and strong reaction from the dogs.

The other approximately 198 pictures contain: Doberman butts, teeth, the floor, the water, a few sky pictures, my pants, my bare foot (which is odd because I was wearing socks when we left) and many more that I can’t even figure out what the picture is. Many pictures contained blurred orange and yellow though – those are the colours of Liar and Gia’s life jackets.

The Catfish was returned safely to the water and gracefully swam away. Although I think he had a look of satisfaction in his eyes.

Picture it:

Gia: Running madly from the front of the boat to the back of the boat looking over the side for attackers that threaten our well-being and lives…

Liar: Whining and firmly planted on my lap with his muzzle shoved into my face… My glasses? Ya – not sure when they left my face but found them after…

Karen: Deep calming sigh…

Tim: Reflecting on the last few minutes of chaos that seemed like hours… “I’m not having very much fun… I don’t think we should bring the dogs fishing anymore…”

Karen: Tuning EVERYONE out, staying focused on the Pelican swimming by and looking at us like we’re lunatics… Trying to remember how many “fire waters” we have in the fridge at home.

We actually did stay fishing for a few more hours, caught some more fish including me landing a 23” Greenback Walleye and Liar and Gia finally DID somewhat settle down. Will they ever come fishing with us again? That I can’t promise unless we get like a forty foot fishing boat!

Gia relaxing on the way home from the eventful fishing trip!

Good news is – nobody went swimming, everyone stayed safe and both Liar and Gia slept like they’d ran marathons when they got home! I will say though, I find it ironic that it was a “CAT”fish that started all the chaos.

Take care, love your dogs and be safe!


Karen Grzenda, Author and dog lover

Check out my other blogs at:

Find my books on Amazon in EBook or Paperback!

Heart Dog – Gunner’s Story (true life novel):

The Side Eye Series (adult canine humour series):

Little Paws (children’s canine learning series):

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