Sunday, April 24, 2011

Reactions to Laveau's Brain

This post is for
<"The Third Assistance Dog Blog Carnival">
This time around, the topic is "reactions."

To be honest, I didn't think I'd write for this carnival. The topic of the publics' "reactions" to the presence of assistance dogs in public places has been pretty well talked out, and I have nothing new to add. Then a conversation with a friend got me thinking.

My current assistance dog, Laveau, is a Doberman mix. People like to say she's mixed with lab, but personally, I don't see it and am leaning more toward hound of some kind. People frequently ask me, "What breed is she?" I reply, "Doberman mix." Then it starts...
"That is dangerous to have a Doberman out in public. Don't you know that Dobermans have a condition where their brains outgrow their skull? When this happens, they go crazy and start killing people."
If I had a dollar for every idiot who has spouted some form of this untruth, I could retire and live the high life with my crazy Doberman.

There is a disease where the brain can put pressure on the skull. It is called
This condition is most frequently found in Cavalier King Charles Spaniels, although rarely can be found in other breeds. It is not normally found in Dobermans, however. The disease does not "make the dog go mad and start biting people."

But it never fails. If I give a presentation, at an elementary school, inevitably, some six-year-old will start spouting the "brain outgrows its skull" nonsense, and I have to explain that no, my dog will not suddenly start biting the heads off of random children.
I have even heard a well-known guide dog trainer talk about this same issue. She was explaining why Dobermans aren't used much as guides any more and out came that old reliable "brain out growing its skull" song and dance. Apparently, one of the ways a Doberman guide dog owner can tell if the dreaded condition is upon them is that the dog will begin spinning its handler in circles, usually in the middle of the street.

You will be relieved to know that Laveau has not started doing this, or maybe I just have such chronic and terrible vertigo that I don't notice because life is one giant circle for me, anyway.

I have fallen in love with the breed; the watchfulness, work ethic, easy-care coat, size, and Velcro tendencies make the Doberman an ideal breed for my service dog. This means that I'm probably going to be hardily sick of the reactions of the uneducated masses who are worried that my dog will see them as a two-legged snack.

Laveau makes up for all of the misinformed folks out there by being a devoted and careful worker. Hopefully, when people see her work and her calm demeanor, their reactions will change.


  1. I'd never heard of that condition until I started following various dog oriented feeds on Twitter and had never once seen it discussed in regards to Dobermans. I also didn't realize that was what happened with the dogs who were effected, not the biting the heads off little children part lol!

    I always seem to learn something when I read your blog!

  2. I got similar reactions when Dixie (my Catahoula/Pit mix) was working. I was told multiple times that I was an awful person for bringing such a dangerous dog out in public (usually while Dix was sitting or laying down quietly). I know she changed some minds and we helped educate many people in our community. No doubt you are doing in the same in your area!

  3. I had never heard of it either, until I began researching that whole myth about Dobermans when I was seriously considering the breed. I'd love to smack the person who invented this nonsense upside the head with a rotten fish! :)

  4. Hi Y'all,

    People shouldn't make statements as if they are fact unless they have the proof to back them up. They do harm to everyone.

    Hawk aka BrownDog

  5. I have never heard of this! Geez, people can be so ignorant. They used to use Dobermans at LDB for a long time. I think they're beautiful.
    PS: Rotten fish? LMAO!

  6. I heard about it back in the 80s, back when they were the "Killer dog" of the decade. I love the breed too, and they are on my short list for my next dog.

    I went from a OT weimer/pit mix to a standard poodle, talk about a change!

  7. So, I wonder. Does having a Doberman mix service dog reduce the number of strangers "dive-bombing" your dog to pet her? Nice post!

  8. I have never heard of that either. Yes while they probably are classed as a dangerous dog, alot of the time it's the owner. Even a lab could rip someone in two if they weren't trained properly.

    Take care, torie and guide dog Ushi.

  9. Rox'E, even with my limited vision, I can see that Laveau is quite beautiful!I some times wish that people would see my Shaman as being possibly dangerous.Maybe then they would not pet him all the time.You would think that parents would not encourage their kids to pet a strange shepherd,but they do.Shaman has never met anyone he did not like. He does get distracted by petting,but he is getting better about getting back to work now.