In 1966, when I was three, my parents took the whole family out to pick up our first dog. From what I understand, they decided to get a dog because we three children panicked when we saw a
dog in the street. Back then there was only one way to cure a dog phobia and that was to get one. As our mother was Irish, she wanted an Irish setter, but since there were none available at the time, we got an English setter instead. But the Irishness was
not forsaken – my mother named our puppy Biddy Mulligan – call name Biddy.
We came home one August day with Biddy, and for the next ten days we children lived in the furniture
where Biddy couldn’t reach us. Ten days down and we were cured. Now Biddy was just another member of our family and stayed with us for 10 years.
Back then dog handling classes
did not exist as they do today. There are classes everywhere 24/7, well almost. There was no one to tell my parents that consistency is the key to a good relationship with your dog, so Biddy lived her own life the way she more or less wanted to. An open
door meant that it was time to roam for a few hours, food on the kitchen counter with no one to watch meant that she should please help herself, and alone in the house she had all the furniture to herself.
The last three years of her life, I was the one who cared for her. In the spring of 1977 she was put to rest due to a severe cancer.
Despite my dog phobia at the age
of three, Biddy turned out to be a valued friend, and because of her I developed my interest in dogs. When I was only 10, I started borrowing books about dogs from the library. Most of the books were about individual breeds, but by the mid-70s, I was
able to find a few books about temperament and training. From there my interest just grew.
At one point I got a book with most of the recognised breeds in Denmark. There was a handful
of breeds I was completely taken by, several were gundogs and one was the dobermann. I knew that I would not get a gundog as I wasn’t really interested in hunting and I do think the two go together. I would never make my parents’ mistake of getting
an English setter and not take it hunting. But I could work with a dobermann, and the breed just fascinated me in ways I couldn’t explain.
One day when I was 14, I was walking
down the streets of the city I lived in when I saw a man walking two dobermanns. In that instant I knew for certain that I would have a dobermann one day. It took another six years to get there so while I was still at school, I started looking after the
dogs of friends of the family. These included first and foremost a collie/lab mix, Nuser, whom I ended up taking in for the last two years of his life. He died suddenly one spring day in my second semester at college and I lost my best friend. But I also
looked after a yellow lab, Polly, and a miniature dachshund, Jonas. And later I took in a puppy (told to be an Eastafrican German shepherd?), Baik, and had her for three months before she was shipped off to Kenya. She was such a charm and would have been
fun to keep, but the day she left me, Nuser came in and stayed with me for the rest of his life.