Marie McCooey, 85, of Sequim loves Doberman Pinschers — always has and always will, she said.
“They are so human and highly intelligent,” she said while sitting between her two Dobermans J.R., 3, and Rhodey, 7, as they towered over her.
“They are lap dogs. Trouble is, he’s 90 pounds.”
McCooey recently accomplished a new feat in her 70-plus years of Doberman ownership. One of her dogs won best of breed and grand champion at a specialty show.
J.R., also known as “Hidden Acres a Quest for Victory,” won grand champion and best of breed at the Puget Sound Doberman Pinscher Club Show on Aug. 19 in Enumclaw.
McCooey said J.R. won best of breed at other breed shows but this is his first specialty show win. He beat more than 50 other high-standing Dobermans, including some of the nation’s top owners.
Currently, J.R. sits 19th on the Top 20 list of the Doberman Pinscher Club of America and with the significant win, he could advance further up the list next month.
McCooey’s home shows an obvious love of her dogs, with Doberman art and sculptures, award ribbons, pictures and road signs adorning her walls. Sometimes she speaks in a loving, high-pitched voice to her dogs as they play together or bite a chew toy.
Since her teens, she’s owned 12 Dobermans with only a two-year absence in that time.
“They are very people-oriented,” McCooey said.
“Because of the war people think they are vicious. I’ve never had a problem. (The dogs) think everyone comes to see them and not me, which is OK with me.”
Doberman pinschers date back to dog breeding by Karl Friedrich Louis Dobermann in 1890.
McCooey said she’s heard them called dogs with human brains.
“They understand everything you say,” she said, “They look right in your eyes.”
Competitions don’t come as often as McCooey might like. She drives her dogs to shows rather than flying, so she mostly stays on the West Coast, which she feels affects her dogs’ rankings because most shows, including nationals, occur on the East Coast.
Early on, McCooey and her Dobermans became well known for their success. One of her first dogs, Thais, held a world record with his family for being the first litter to have eight champions. All of the pups and their parents were named after operas.
McCooey said she wanted Dobermans her whole life but never intended to show them until a friend encouraged her.
She said Dobermans aren’t high-maintenance but it’s good to consult with other trainers for advice. For younger trainers, McCooey advises you always give dogs good food, plenty of water and protect them from the weather.
“Obedience training is really good,” she said. “I’ve put dogs through obedience. You need to try to make them mind … basic things help.”
She feels showing love remains the most basic gift.
“I couldn’t stand not to take good care of them,” she said.
McCooey doesn’t tie up her dogs and doesn’t understand why people would leave their dogs outside all the time.
“Why bother having a dog if they never come in?” she asked. “They are better protection for your home if you are gone.”
Several years ago, McCooey bred Dobermans once but found she doesn’t have the time or energy for it any more. She kept one of the puppies, Rhythm, who died four years ago from cardiomyopathy. Some of her dogs have lived up to 14 years. The lifespan of Dobermans is 10-14 years.
McCooey said she named her former show dog Rhodey, actually Rhododendron, after a flower because a friend consoled her after Rhythm’s death by saying naming animals after flowers means they’ll live longer.
Showing dogs continues to be a thrill for McCooey. One room in her home holds walls of photos and ribbons from special events.
She’s planning to compete at the 2013 nationals in California. Her first and only nationals appearance was in Portland, Ore., in the mid-1990s.
McCooey moved to Sequim 21 years ago after retiring from 31 years with Pacific Telephone Company. She is a member of the Puget Sound Doberman Pinscher Club and Doberman Pinscher Club of America and uses her acreage to let the dogs play and continue her other passion, gardening.
Reach Matthew Nash at firstname.lastname@example.org.