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The Dobermans.

The Already Been Burglaized Society: many Countrysiders as well as city dwellers are already members and more are anticipated.

After being "successfully" burglarized once, followed by two attempts with property damage and three thwarted attempts, we realized that our rural secluded setting that afforded us our privacy was equally inviting to burglars.

After going through the list of options, alarm systems with direct police hookups, alarm systems with roof top sirens, etc., our final solution not only provided us with security but has proven to be an income producer as well.

We cut down and removed all the natural hazelbrush and vines that screened us from the road and also provided such a lovely hiding place for the burglars. We then fenced around the perimeter of our house and outbuildings, giving us an enclosed space of about two acres.

Yes, the fence will only slow down a determined burglar, not stop him. But it very handily contains the two Dobermans we bought to occupy it. The original two proved so successful and we became so fond of them, we bought an unrelated breeding pair and have since developed a small but steady income producing several litters of pups per year. Some we sell as puppies and some we retain and train and sell when they are 9-months to a year old. Both options have proven profitable for us.

Our animals are purebred but not papered. We were very selective about temperament in choosing the parents. It is much better to see at least one and preferably both of the parents when buying a Doberman puppy.

Tv got it wrong--but few people say

"Nice doggie" to a Doberman

The Doberman image, thanks to tv shows like Magnum P.I. and media hype, is the typical bad dog. The modern Doberman is quite different than the go-for-the-jugular nasty boys of 15 or 20 years ago. Most people, including burglars, don't know that.

Dobermans are really sensitive, affectionate and playful animals. We raise ours from birth with the grandchildren. They come into the house and are "outside" people friendly as long as one of us is present.

They also have a natural reserve that doesn't encourage strangers to be overly friendly with them. Few people are inclined to stick their hands through the fence and go "Here, nice doggy" to a Doberman.

We do not train them as guard dogs. They seem to have that instinct naturally. There is a marked change in their behavior when we are on premises, even though we might not be visible, and when we go off premises. Having stopped back by the house in friends' cars, we have observed that the "guard" reaction they have to strangers is pretty intimidating.

With the dogs we retain we do basic obedience: come, sit, stay, heel, etc. A few classes with a good instructor will enable you to do the basics on your own.

We have the tails and dewclaws removed by a vet between three and five days. It is a simple, inexpensive operation and we do our own puppy shots for parvo, distemper, etc. We are careful to keep a computer record of the serial number and lot numbers of the vaccines as in some areas this is required for the vaccinations to be recognized. Omaha Vaccine is a good source, prices vary from $1.50 to $3.50 per shot. A vet in our area will charge anywhere from $9.50 to $15. A regular worming schedule is implemented on all our dogs beginning at four weeks. Rabies vaccinations in our state must be given by a veterinarian.

Ear cropping to give the Dobermans the "Doberman" look is expensive but not painful, as it is done under anesthetic. It is particularly important to find a good, experienced vet who specializes in this area. Many vets won't do ears and the longer you wait the more expensive and less successful it will become. Our vet prefers to do the ears between seven and nine weeks of age. The cost will run between $110 to $350 depending on your dog, the vet, the age, and your area. England has banned ear cropping, as have several states here. We prefer it to give the dogs their "breed specific" look.

We have no problem with hip dysplasia and have the animals thoroughly examined by a competent vet. The animals we have retained to adulthood are healthy, well-balanced animals with no sign of this problem.

Very critical of temperament

We are very critical of temperament. Some Dobies fit in well with a large, gregarious family. Some are one-person dogs. If you observe carefully and keep a close personal contact going with them from the time of their birth, you will be able to tell which is which.

We place a three-day ad, Friday, Saturday and Sunday, in our metro paper when we are ready to sell our puppies. They are usually gone by the end of the first day, despite the fact that I try to discourage people from buying.

No one should buy a Doberman unless they have the intention of making a firm commitment to their training process and an equally firm commitment to recognize public safety concerns. Something that should be done with all dogs, particularly large ones. After I have shown prospective buyers the puppies, brought the parents out for inspection, given them my "owning a Doberman is a serious responsibility" speech, if they are still interested we continue. I have, however, sent people away and told them if they were still interested to come back the next day. It makes for happier homes for our Dobermans and happier owners.

We raise black and brown and also red and rust Dobermans. The black seems to be the most popular, although people seem to be definite. They either like the black at first sight or they like the red. They seldom switch.

Being rural, we have no restrictions except for purchasing a kennel license from the county which runs about $100 per year. And, of course, the courtesy to restrain our dogs from creating unnecessary noise that would be disturbing to the neighbors.

The thrive on homestead foods

The animals thrive on goat milk, meat scraps, cooked eggs and a good dog food. Since we are a working farm we have plenty of home grown goodies for them to eat. Some Dobermans, when fed raw eggs, develop a coarse, ugly hair coat called bristlecoat. It is important to always cook the eggs.

Our animals are usually confined only at night. The males and females being kept in half acre cross-fenced areas, highly visible from the front, behind and directly around the house.

Normally we keep nine to twelve animals in various stages of training. Last summer the Canada to Mexico natural gas pipeline crossed our property and for several months my Dobies put up with daily, sometimes hourly incursions of pickups, trucks, caterpillars, graders, track hoes and large machines whose purpose I can only guess. They have been so traumatized by the excess of people, 30 to 40 at any time was not unusual, that we have for the first time had two animals that we were not able to place in private homes. At the present time, our dispositions probably wouldn't allow private home placement either! It will be several months before we will be able to tell if the remaining breeding stock will return to their pre-pipeline dispositions and allow us to continue our breeding process.

While we have some traditional cyclone kennel area we have found a good inexpensive alternative for the dogs, not the puppies. We use welded steel cattle panels, 52-inches high by 16-feet long (usually less than $20) and treated wood posts. The cost is usually under $140 for a 16'x 16' area. We cut the panel at 12' and use the four-foot remainder as a gate. It can be framed in 2 x 4 and hinged or bungeed on each side, top and bottom. Temporary shelters can be provided by 50 gallon plastic barrels with one end partially cut out and with a thick straw bedding.

For perimeter fencing we use a bottom strand of 4-point barbed wire, with a 30" (6" stay) woven, topped by another strand of 4-point barbed wire, topped by a strand of electric fencing. Probably half of which is not necessary, but it is reassuring to the joggers and walkers who pass by and I know that I am keeping myself out of trouble with complaints. Insurance concerns should be addressed with the company that carries your homeowner's policy and "Beware of Dog" and "No Trespassing" signs should be prominently displayed. We have them at intervals of 40-feet.

Our desire, besides not being burglarized again, is to provide a healthy, typical, well-mannered, affectionate companion, who naturally will be protective of his or her significant other(s). It gives us so much pleasure to be able to provide this at a reasonable cost to others who are interested in the same thing. It is also a great pleasure just to see several matched pairs of these magnificent animals racing across the open pastures simply for the joy of it.

A word of caution to prospective breeders

It's nice that the Dobermans are able to pay for their own keep plus a small profit. But I would caution anyone who thinks they might be interested in doing the same thing to remember that you owe a tremendous responsibility both to the dogs and to the general public. If you truly don't love the dogs and all the work they are, forget the idea right now. I would be the first to admit that Doberman paws aren't really conducive to the perfect yard area, but they can be trained to respect your set boundaries.

There is of course the additional bonus of never being bothered by door to door salesmen or solicitors or people who just felt like dropping in. When you want to tell someone where you live you just tell them the road and say, "the house with the Dobermans." Even if they get lost and have to ask directions, all of the neighbors on your road know where you (and the Dobies) are. So do all those unkindly individuals who have no respect for the commandment that reads, "Thou shalt not steal."
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Title Annotation:guard dogs
Author:Von Mars, Ariel
Publication:Countryside & Small Stock Journal
Date:May 1, 1993
Previous Article:Which breed of cattle should you choose?
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