by | Oct 16, 2016 | The Writer's Life | 11 comments

By Sonja Stone

Cats are useless. There, I said it. Let the hate mail begin.

Sleek and beautiful: Raja and Raven, my Dobermans


I know I’m about to make a lot of enemies, but here’s my feeling about pets: If an animal is going to live in my home, eat my food, drink my water, and breathe my oxygen, it needs to be willing AND ABLE to kill for me. 

I know, I know. Everyone thinks either: 

a) their kitty-cat would defend them to the death if he could, or 
b) their kitty-cat could defend them, if he were so inclined. 

For an animal to share my living quarters, it must meet BOTH of these requirements. Consistently.

Before you unsubscribe to our blog, let me say that I’m mostly kidding about the useless-cat thing. My dad has a cat, my sister has cats, my friends have cats. One of my friends willed her cat to me (I beg you, pray for her continued good health). My personal experience with cats is this: when you want to snuggle, they’re nowhere to be seen. When you want to be left alone, you get shedding hairs in your nose and cat ass in your face. And don’t get me started on the anus-trailing icicles from the Christmas tree.

But, oh, my Dobermans. Love at first sight.

Raja and Raven, brother and sister


Though often portrayed in novels and movies as violent aggressors, Dobermans make excellent family dogs. We chose Dobermans to join our pack for several reasons. First, I wanted a protective breed. I adore German Shepherds, but it’s 120 degrees during a Phoenix summer, and I was concerned about long-haired dogs (though I know Shepherds live here and certainly thrive). Second, Dobermans are known to be loyal, intelligent, alert, and gentle (despite their reputation). 

Dobermans have a long history of military service. As soldiers in WWI & WWII, they’ve served as sentries, scouts, messengers, and protectors. On Guam, a life-sized memorial honors the service and sacrifice of Doberman soldiers.




As puppies, Dobermans require socialization. We took ours to our neighborhood Home Depot (in case you’re wondering why we didn’t go to the park, very young pups shouldn’t be around the feces of other dogs until fully vaccinated). Dobermans are affectionate and energetic; this is not a breed to lock outside in the yard all day. (I’m not sure that’s okay with any breed, but hey. You do you.) They require training and loving discipline, frequent exercise, and lots of attention. I work from home, so Raja and Raven have plenty of company. 

Our dogs respond to commands issued in several foreign languages. They are courteous to guests, and have only exhibited threatening behavior on one occasion. We’d ordered a pizza for dinner, and rather than come to the front door (which, I might add, was well-lit), our delivery guy chose to open the side gate leading to the darkened back yard and enter the walled space behind the house. (Everyone in Phoenix has block walls around their property. You think fences make good neighbors? Try an eight-foot wall.) Raven, the more protective of the two, guarded the kitchen, barking fiercely at the back door. This poor guy stood outside frozen with fear until we figured out why she was so upset. 

Me and my babies


Before you judge me for those spiky collars, let me explain. My puppies are eager hunters, and we have more rabbits in our neighborhood than the Teletubbies. My dogs are well-trained; it’s not that they’ll break free and chase down the bunnies. But they will pull the leash so hard that while wearing flat nylon collars, they bruise their little tracheas. The silver collar actually disperses the force exerted against it, so the throat avoids injury.

To me, owning a Doberman is like carrying a knife. I’d rather have it and not need it, than need it and not have it. And come on, if they’re good enough for the United States Marine Corps…

P.S. Is anyone surprised that I chose a breed known as “devil dogs”?

Photo credits for the military pictures:
Okay, I’m braced for your pro-cat arguments. Leave your hate mail pet story in the comment section below!
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  1. S. Lee Manning

    Guess you've never had mice in your house. My four German Shepherds I owned over the course of twenty-five years were great for scaring off delivery people as well as being loving pets, but tended to ignore the mice which find their way into almost every home in Vermont. My cats did not.

  2. Anonymous

    My cats know where you live …

  3. Karna Bodman

    Oh, Sonja, I can certainly understand your love for your "protectors" — not sure about the cat thing though. I've had both cats and dogs over the years and found that cats were always terrific "play-mates" for our young children! But thanks for this post — I'm sure it will engender a ton of discussion about all of these wonderful animals!

  4. Chris Goff

    LOL. I've had cats I loved, but I prefer dogs. And, believe it or not, poodles make good mousers — at least some of them do. Your story about the pizza delivery guy made me think of my high school friend JB's Doberman. She was a beautiful dog named Candy. So sweet and gentle. One day we stopped by JB's house to say "Hey." I approached the door with one of my girlfriends, and knocked. Candy plastered herself against the window, teeth barred, snarling and snapping and barking. I backed away. JB wasn't home. Later he called and asked us to come by later, so we again ventured into his yard. Candy came bounding out from behind the house, tongue lolling and wrapped herself around my legs in a big hug. Back to her friendly, kind self. I can tell you one thing–no one would ever think about entering JB's house when he wasn't home. Burglars beware!

  5. Sonja Stone

    S. Lee Manning, because of the many citrus trees, here in Arizona we have a huge problem with roof rats (many the size of cats!). Raven loves treeing rats, but I'm delighted to say she hasn't presented me with a corpse yet!

  6. Sonja Stone

    Dear Anonymous, I will say this: if I need to dispose of a body, I would much prefer cats to dogs, so perhaps I was hasty in my dismissal of the species. 😉

  7. Sonja Stone

    Karna, my bark is worse than my bite. We always had cats growing up and they were indeed delightful playmates!

    Christine, isn't that amazing? Our Dobermans are like that, as well. The sweetest dispositions, provided you are an invited and welcomed guest. Raven does have a habit of standing sideways between me and anyone she doesn't know.

  8. Francine Mathews

    They're gorgeous, Sonja. Do you notice gender differences between them?

  9. Francine Mathews

    I've never been able to have a cat, by the way, because my terriers would kill one. I was walking the Airedales a few days ago by a house that had an elaborate Halloween display. That included a statue of a seated Siamese. Each dog separately noticed it and swift as lightning, went for the poor thing's fake juggular. I dragged them away as fast as I could.

  10. Jamie Freveletti

    Beautiful Dobermans! One of the few breeds that didn't wander to our house as purebreds (but we did get some mixes). But don't let them tangle with a cat. My current cat would run, but the last one nearly took out our German Shepherd's eye with a well placed swipe. I suspect, though, that the pets would all get along well together in the end. (Well, not the mice or the rats, but you can't have everything).

  11. Sonja Stone

    Francine, I do notice gender differences. Raven (the female) is much more territorial and protective, and better able to entertain herself. Raja is about a head taller, way more playful, and acts strictly as backup.

    I laughed at the Siamese cat attack!

    Jamie, why am I not surprised that YOU have a killer cat? ;D