I want to introduce you to another of my international friends, Dr. Kris Fawcett and her beautiful girl, Helvi.
Kris: I first ‘met’ Joanne through a Facebook Dobermann group. I distinctly remember upon seeing a photo of Maya for the first time, pondering if it was ‘real’ she looked so stunning. And later, reading Joanne’s so raw and anguished posts with the losses of Tristan and Maya, I felt she was a person who loved and connected with her Dobermanns in a way that spoke to my heart so precisely.
ME: Please share your history of the dogs in your life.
Kris: The first dog I recall at three years old was a German shepherd called Acorn…my first real connection was with a later German shepherd, Nimbus - he was a wonderful combination of handsome, affectionate, and protective companion for an only child. The first dog I personally owned was a beagle when I was in my early 20s. However, I truly had no really deep connection with a dog until our first Dobermann. We had been broken into and I wanted a Dobermann, so off we went. I remember meeting the breeders and being horrified their seven or eight Dobermanns were all through the house, lounging on sofas. I rolled my eyes at my partner when they said ‘once you’ve had a Dobermann, you'll never have any other breed.' And here I am 21 years later with my fifth Dobermann.
Saba, Kris's first Doberman
ME: What part do your dogs play in your life, and how important are the dogs in your life?
Kris: I can only maybe best answer this in context of my seven years with Helvi, who I lost on 19 September this year. Everything revolved around her, even before she became ill (dilated cardiomyopathy and chronic hepatitis) - the hours I worked, the car bought, what I ate, where and when I went out/met friends, holidays I took, where and when we walked, friends I made, where I shopped. I took her absolutely everywhere I could, spent as much time with her as I could. When she became ill, I felt it was my whole purpose to provide for her care - to keep her happy and healthy as long as I could and disprove the 12 months prognosis I was given. That was my motivation each and every day. It all pales into insignificance when I think of how much she gave me during her short seven years…from very dear friends I made through her - online (quite a number of whom I have met in person), and at parks to getting me out of bed on a ‘dark day'. Every year I took her birthday off work to give her an extra special, spoil day. My dogs have made every day of my life better. The best part of my day was coming home to their pure and uncomplicated happiness. Given without expectation. Every Day. That defines my relationship with my Dobermanns.
ME: I’m fascinated with my international friends and their lives with their dogs.
Kris: Brisbane, Australia has become increasingly dog friendly so my dogs have had the benefit of many cafes, restaurants, bars, the Post office, my hairdresser, some retailers…..plus any dog ‘event’ from the Million Paws Walk for the RSPCA, to a Sunday ‘Bark n Brews' at a local bar! My last birthdays were deliberately held in dog-friendly bars just so Helvi could share in the celebrations. It was so wonderful to have strangers come up to pat and chat - Helvi was very social and loved all the attention she considered quite rightly her due!
I have also organised several Brisbane Dobermann meet ups for their dogs to play and ‘talk dobe'. This has also been a great support group. My dogs have all loved trips in the car - even if just to the pet shop - but especially loved the beach and high, unenclosed off-leash parks.
Hahn and Eva, Kris's 2nd & 3rd dobies
Me: Do you vacation or take trips with your dog?
Kris: Not really actually though Helvi did enjoy a couple of flights to Sydney for Christmas with nan. I have to say I loved many a staycation with them just doing things we both enjoyed - parks, the beach, dining out, meeting up with friends…
Me: What is your definition of the love you have for your dog?
Kris: At the end of my life I will say no other single thing in my life will have given me so much joy, calm, purpose, happiness, and finally, heartbreaking pain in my life. Worth every single tear.
~Helvi with Hette~
Helvi stayed in this world just long enough to teach her baby sister, Hette, the basics...
I was very blessed to grow up in beautiful Christchurch New Zealand. As I mentioned, I grew up with some wonderful German shepherds there - this I think contributed to my love of large, intelligent breeds. They were perfect companions for an only child.
My father, stepmother and I migrated to Brisbane, Australia in 1986. Though at the time I was miserable about it, I feel very lucky to live in this amazing country. At heart I am still a kiwi though!
Encouraged greatly by my father I started medical school in 1988 and completed my MBBS in 1994. Without his motivation and support, I wouldn't be a doctor today. He himself had wanted to be a vet - he was a big animal lover.
Very sadly I lost the most influential figure in my life to suicide; this has however made me a better doctor in that it enabled me to better grasp the enormity of grief. My dear Dobermann Eva was my saving grace through that time - another reason for my huge gratitude for having these amazing creatures in my life. ♥️ Today, I live with my fifth Dobermann, Hette, now six months old. Having not had two-legged children, my dobes are my kids. I enjoy working four days a week in skin cancer medicine which is really busy as I live in the melanoma capital of the world! My non-vocational interests include architecture and design, reading (a lot!), wine and food events. And Dobermanns!
Having a dog has been very very social for me - I have made some very wonderful, close friends through my local dog parks. And it’s such a joy when I’m out walking and see someone looking miserable then they see my dobe and their whole face just lights up. Dogs are just pure happiness and love!
Kris, thank you so much for sharing a part of your life. I can’t begin to count the number of conversations via text messaging we have shared. We’ve talked at lengths about life with our dogs and consoled each other over the devastating grief of losing our girls. I’m grateful for all of your support and sincerely honored to call you my friend.
Kris’s interview sparks memories of my sweet Kes. In my book, Payton’s Pursuit, Kes is Payton’s dog. When Payton's not busy managing The Winters Corporation, she loves to spend her free time loading up her dogs and heading to the dog show. I’ve had book reviewers say they are surprised at how much detail I know about the dog shows - from dog show people, no doubt. I should. I spent years packing up our van and trailer and heading off to shows. When we weren’t working, you could find us at a dog show. And while all my Dobermans were active in some compacity, whether it was obedience, rally, agility, or breed/conformation, Kes is the dog I’m writing about today. She was the mother of Anya and Captain and the grandmother of Maya and Tristan. Being Payton’s dog, Kes is the Doberman on the cover of Payton’s Pursuit, and I wrote her true to life.
As far as showing dogs is concerned, Kes was my once in a lifetime Doberman. Kes and I were also a team in agility and trained in obedience. The Doberman ring is extremely competitive, and even so, I showed and finished Kes to her American Kennel Club (AKC) Championship on my own. Kes was a dream in the ring. That girl could strike a pose every time, and I was in awe of her — another perfect memory that is seared in my heart.
So you see, even though The Winters Sisters is a fictional series, it also has roots in real life, past experiences, and treasured memories…
My Kessie girl…
So full of life…too shortly lived.
Until next time…