Hair of the Dog

A few weeks ago, I recieved an email from the director of a doberman rescue in Texas. She wrote because her organization had just taken in a doberman puppy- with long hair. She sent the photo of him,above. She had gone on the internet to see if it were possible that this was the only longhair doberman that could have ever existed. That google search led her to our memorial tribue I wrote for our late,great red doberman, Newman, who also had longhair. Newman passed away a few years ago,and is still fondly remembered for his kind and gentle spirit as much as his distinctive looks. The director of the doberman rescue had been attacked by some people via the internet who were livid that the puppy with longhair was being described as a doberman. They accused her of misrepresenting the dog's background and even staging the photograph of the little guy,above. These accusers lobbied to have the rescue euthanize the young puppy. I am simply incredulous that such people have so little to do that they can take to their computers to attack a rescue who is only trying to help a puppy in need . Like Newman, this puppy,clearly a doberman, simply had a genetic mutation which caused him to be born with long hair.

Those who attacked the doberman rescue representative reveal an attitude that is just the other side of the coin that is familiar in rescue, the contempt and indifference to which many mixed breeds and black animals fall victim. These animals are not distinguished enough in their appearance, and are sadly overlooked by those considering adopting a new pet and even by rescues who take in animals but need to turn them over quickly through adoption. Animals with undistinctive and plain looks do not sell well. Conversely, dogs like Newman and his doppleganger,the longhaired puppy from Texas, also engender contempt from those who believe a purebred needs to conform to the breed standard.

Home for Life has many purebred dogs at the sanctuary. They get dumped and abandonned just as often as mutts. We cannot all be supermodels and dogs even if purebred, do not all exemplify the breed standards to a 'T".( I'd like to see some of the people so disdainful of these dogs compete in the human equivalent-the beauty pagent and have every other quality BUT their looks- or lack thereof- disregarded). Whether pedigree or of more humble heritage, as a care for life sanctuary,we have the opportunity to get to know all our dogs as individuals. The outer package, looks and certainly their breed define our dogs far less than the treasure within-their loving hearts,their courage, and their resliance.

Below is the memorial tribute I wrote for Newman.I still miss him!! Not for his longhair but for the kind and loving dog he was.


This spring marked the sad loss of Newman, Home for Life®'s distinguished long-haired red Doberman, at the age of almost 14. Newman passed away as a result of kidney and heart failure complicated by degenerative myelopathy that caused rear limb paralysis. Newman was a proud dog and it depressed him that he could no longer move independently.

Newman was an AKC-registered Doberman and had the docked tail and cropped ears pursuant to the breed standard. It is believed that a genetic mutation was responsible for his long hair. Newman had a circuitous and at times perilous journey to Home for Life. Newman was originally from Texas and moved to Minnesota with his owner and another Doberman, a female black-and-tan. When their owner could not find housing that would accept two big dogs, he turned Newman and the female dog into the Animal Ark Shelter of Hastings, MN. Many people were interested in the black-and-tan female but not in Newman and his less conventional looks. Newman was very bonded to the female Doberman, but the shelter decided to adopt her out to a home that was not interested in Newman. His long hair, large size and tendency to be a cage protector put off most prospective adopters. Newman remained at the shelter for nearly three years. Still, he was a favorite among the staff who recognized his true and gentle heart. One of the shelter volunteers, a hairdresser, finally decided to adopt Newman but she was not a credible person. Within a few days of her taking Newman, her "free to good home" ads featuring Newman were appearing in Twin Cities metro papers. The shelter tried to enforce the adoption contract and compel her to return Newman to the shelter but she refused to bring him back "to live in a cage." Minnesota Doberman Rescue’s founding president, the late Ann Nelson, finally intervened, and offered to accept Newman into their program, but the volunteer decided to give Newman to one of her clients, a woman who had a large house and fenced yard. Newman lasted only three weeks in his new home; the volunteer’s client turned out to have really wanted a miniature poodle and did not like having such a big dog underfoot. Newman was unwanted again, but thankfully, Ann of Doberman Rescue was called by the client to see if she could help him. Ann called Home for Life® to see if Newman, who was now over eight years old, could find a permanent refuge at the sanctuary. Volunteers of the Doberman Rescue interviewed Home for Life®’s staff and director, visited the sanctuary several times, and continued to visit the first few years after Newman came to HFL. We will always be grateful to Ann Nelson for ensuring that Newman found his way to HFL safely. Newman was special in so many ways, as unique on the inside as he was on the outside. One of HFL's staff described him as being "neutral like Switzerland"— he was trustworthy and diplomatic with all of the sanctuary's dogs. After all his years in a kennel, Newman’s greatest joy was to sit on his couch and futon like a sultan, in the main entrance of the dog building where he could be in the center of all the activity at the sanctuary. He loved to run in the fields and swim.

Newman became close friends with Darla, a statuesque black-and-tan female Doberman who came to HFL from New York. Their friendship seemed to mend the hole in his heart left after his Doberman sister was adopted out from the shelter, leaving him behind. When Darla passed away from liver cancer about 18 months ago, Newman became much more pensive and lost some spark that even all our attention and affection could not restore. A legendary story involving Newman that seems funny in retrospect occurred several years ago when members of a Doberman email group with a nationwide membership spotted his photo on the HFL website. Several members angrily demanded that we remove the photo, accusing our webmaster of fabricating the photo by hanging dyed sheepskins on the dog. It was hard to imagine bashful, unassuming Newman causing such uproar across the country. But what was most remarkable about Newman were his inner qualities: his resiliency, his loyal heart, and his kind and gentle spirit that never diminished despite loss and loneliness.

Beloved Newman: not just another face in the crowd.