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…