It’s Just a dog…And that’s what makes them so extraordinary, Part 4 ~ by Joanne Jaytanie

I’d like to introduce you to my friend, Margaret Lehmberg. Margaret is one of the unsung heroes people call on when a dog is in dire need. Margaret picks up the pieces and tries her utter best to put the forgotten, abused, abandoned, body and heart of the dog back together. Once accomplished, she searches for the loving forever home. Margaret is the canine savior, otherwise known as a rescue person.
Margaret: Joanne and I met the “modern” way, online through Facebook, enjoying a friendship filled with Doberman stories and discussions and then, finding out she was a novelist and wrote the kind of books I enjoy. One thing has led to another and I’ve read many of her books and the friendship has bloomed.  It’s kinda nice having social media that allows us to stay in touch, see pictures, hear of day-to-day lives and enjoy how things twist and turn through life. I find that online friendships allow us to “travel” and to experience firsthand others’ lives without leaving home.
Me: Please share your history of the dogs in your life. 

Margaret: I was lucky enough to not only be born the middle child in a home with an established dog…a DOBERMAN at that. We always had a single Doberman growing up, never a question, the dog was inside in the thick of five children and an active life. Chasing squirrels, chipmunks and birds, sliding down the icy hills of NY and NH and MA. Dobermans were a large part of my childhood. We moved several times and leaving old friends and making new ones was terrifying for a kid and harder as we age. But the ONE constant was the Doberman…Someone to whisper my fears to, who would love me through the scary stuff, lick away the tears of sadness, frustration and fear, who would always be glad to see me and hear what I had to say…. Never “allowed” on the furniture, I’d sneak her into my bed, share the couch with her, slip her food from my plate, and through it all that unbreakable bond formed and we were the best of friends.

A skinny lonely kid, unsure of life and why we kept moving around, my one constant was a Doberman, and the love grew. Adding a second Doberman to the family doubled my comfort level. A second friend to count on and treasure, another “constant” in a life that was at times unsure and unpredictable. No matter the address, city or state, “they” would always be there. A comforting reminder waiting at the door, assuring me that I was loved and wanted.
Me: You dedicate your life to your dogs, so much so that you manage your own rescue. Could you please tell us about this?

Margaret: It wasn’t until adulthood I found that most people didn’t share my concept of the human and animal relationship and the joy it brings. While volunteering at a thrift store, a man came in with a Doberman and was looking to find a place for her to live. His wife was having a baby, the dog must go. It wasn’t a concept I could grasp. I questioned him, appalled that he would so callously hand a leash to a stranger, never once knowing the outcome of the dog he professed to love….HOW could one do that?  I’d make myself frantic wondering if my dogs were scared without me. I’d worry the new people wouldn’t understand what the dog needed or wanted. WHY, would anyone do that? I agreed to take the dog—and “rescue” was born for me.

Slowly I found a “secret” dirty little world where people had no real feelings and coldly handed the leash or rope and walked away—never to look back—never to wonder. Rescue was a hard journey for me. I learned people can walk away from love and devotion. They can turn on and off their emotions easily, they feel little to no guilt, they respect life very little, are content to let others clean up their messes—many have no ability to empathize.

I learned that animals still give unconditionally, have the ability to love and respect, even after being beaten, tortured, starved, neglected…Animals feel hope and joy despite having both ripped from them repeatedly. They harbor no resentment, carry very little “baggage,” forgive easily and love well. A dog will curl around and comfort the very person who beat them, starved them, abused them, and walked away from them…I have seen in their faces profound gratitude for being “saved” from a shelter. I’ve experienced the devotion of their gratitude for a bowl of fresh water, a bowl of food and a bath…Felt the trembling subside as I’ve comforted them. The biggest of them afraid of the dark, remembering being abandoned to the night and left on their own, sighing as they settled on a thick blanket, secure in the sounds of safety. I’ve seen those big dark eyes, huge with fear, slowly calm and close after a warm bath and food, safe at last.
I’ve been honored to pull seniors laying in their own urine and feces, still show dignity and the ability to portray a regal image. I bring them home, tenderly bathing them, laying them on a thick soft bed, speaking softly to them, and comforting them. I remain at their side and take their last walk with them. I hold them safely and securely as the needle slips in ending their pain. I’ve been blessed to pull beauties deformed by cancer and emaciated, with tufts of hair cropping up in places on their balding bodies, allowing them to enjoy good days in the sun and good food at night until they’re no longer able. I’ve lost count over the years how many beautiful souls I was blessed with in my life, however briefly and however painfully sad. I know I’ve cared for over 700 and am hopeful that God willing, there will always be room for “more.” 
Rescue is not “easy” when done right. The days of enjoying young puppies saved and playing in the sunlight are far too few. But this serves as a reminder on the nights I’m up with one who’s too restless to sleep, too afraid to close their eyes, and too unsure to move forward. Rescue is about dirty, filthy coats, emaciated frames, learning to walk on a leash, cleaning and challenge. It’s also filled with tentative kisses, hesitant tail wags, and the wonder and joy of newly discovered life. It’s watching a terrified dog escape the terrors and learn to run and play, exploring their new yard and family. It’s watching as they relax and are able to be “just a dog” once again. It’s about the joy of seeing them happy again, trusting again, and living again—and wondering where you can squeeze—just one more—it’s about the prayers that there’s “just enough” to feed, vet, and care, for them. Praying someone will love them almost as much as we do… 

Regina “Gina” was at a local shelter, a pretty girl with a nice crop on her ears and a pendulous tumor hanging on her chest between her front legs. It swung as she walked, literally scraping the ground with each movement. It was as ugly a diagnosis as it was a tumor, not long to live. For a year she lived and loved big, and one morning wasn't well. Five minutes from the vets, she put her paw on my hand and looked at me, gave a deep sigh and never taking her eyes from my face, she left. Here and then gone, ALWAYS my girl…

Rescue doesn’t always end in tragedy: holding a dog at the end, spending great amounts of money, and losing them anyway. GOOD rescue is taking the ones that are in need and loving them the best way through that need for a lifetime or short-time but “enough.”  We have many happy “tails” in our rescue, and friends we’ve made along the way, dogs that have made a difference in subtle and big ways, who are given their lifetime being loved and having the “bad” beginning be just a distant memory.

Rescue dogs aren’t “broken” or “ruined,” and they aren’t dogs with baggage. They are simply animals with more experience with the “bad” side of humans and made it out the best they could and are now getting the second chance they deserve. I’d encourage everyone to help rescue in some way. You can do that by fostering, adopting, volunteering in some capacity, or by donating. I would encourage people to COMMIT and honor your commitment. If your dog situation is not working, ask for help, try something different, don’t dump and give up…. Nothing is perfect, and dogs don’t give up as easily on us. 

Me: Without using the word, love, please describe what your dogs mean to you.

Margaret:  A comforting peaceful acceptance of me and a being that is happy to be with me…A soul that brings joy in all things, even in endings.
Margaret, I want to thank you for your insight and sharing your experiences. You are a special breed and without people like yourself, many more dogs would be lost.

Margaret's rescue: A Doberman Adoption Placement Team (ADAPT). Our motto: “We don’t lose sight of their souls.”

I have many friends, including Margaret, who dedicate their lives to rescue. It was because of them that I was inspired to write, Love’s Always Paws-Able. It’s about a woman leaving her corporate position and a man stepping away from his own company, both ending up at an animal shelter, but for very different reasons.

Like most of my stories, I incorporated my own dog and with this story, I included some of my friend’s dogs. My second Doberman, Misty, was my muse. She was not a rescue, but I did purchase her from an inexperienced breeder. I brought Misty home as a puppy. She grew to be lifelong buddies with my older girl, Taisha.

Misty would’ve been happy living out her life at home and sharing it with only us. But, like a Doberman, she was a trooper when I decided she was the one I was taking to obedience. She gave me her all and we worked as a team for years. One day during our run in the show ring, I left her on her sit-stay and walked across the ring for her recall. She did the most unexpected thing. Misty got up when I called her, but instead of coming to me she turned and left the ring. Although it was heartbreaking at the time, I knew deep in my gut that Misty had finished her last show. She was my most highly titled obedience dog. She’d done it with and for me, and I recognized her decision to be finished with that part of her life.

The dedication for Love’s Always Paws-Able expresses my gratitude and endless love to both, Misty and the others who helped bring this story to life.

The natural-ear red Doberman on the cover is my girl~ 

Jaytanie’s Misty Morning, AKC/CKC CD, AKC/CKC CDX, WAC 


Misty came into our lives two months after we purchased our house. She spent the first four years of her life hanging out at home and just being a dog. Her life changed the day I decided to get back into dog obedience and drafted Misty into training. It took her some time to feel comfortable out in the world, around dogs other than her companion, Taisha. I quickly discovered that Wendy’s fries were the way to her heart. She was an amazing girl full of compassion, patience, and love. You are deeply missed my floppy-eared Misty-Girl. 

Noel Ritter, owner of Guiding Hands Pet Obedience since 1992. 

Toshia Maund, Doberman Representative for Seattle Purebred Dog Rescue since 2007, actively involved since 2000. 

Thanks, ladies, for letting me bounce ideas off you. Your dedication to the betterment of dogs does not go unnoticed. 

To my multitude of amazing friends whose lives would seem incomplete if not for their canine companions. 

And to all who share in our love of dogs. For theirs is an unconditional love…it never waivers and will not fade.

Until next time…


  1. It takes a lot to be a rescue mom or dad. It would totally break me to do what you do, Margaret. From the bottom of my heart, I thank you.

    1. Yes it does, Grace. I'm with you, it would shatter me.

  2. Your love of Dobies shines through, Joanne, and your high regard for those who protect and rescue.

  3. What a beautiful blog entry. Thanks for sharing those stories.

    1. Thank you. They are difficult to write, but worth sharing.

  4. From one rescuer to another - Thank you <3

    1. I hold you and Margaret in high regard, Kristine. I don't know how you do it, but I'm glad you do.



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