Thursday, September 4, 2008

We Have a Winner!

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The winner of our art contest is Mary Nagy. She will soon be the owner of a Kevin Roeckl fine art print titled "Southwest Colors." You can learn more about Kevin and his work here.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Art Giveaway and Salute to an Artist

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One of the first characteristics that seems to command the attention of even casual admirers of Doberman Pinschers is their natural beauty. Their clean, sleek, sculpted “lines,”arresting self-possession and the way they seem to own the ground they stand on, all add up to a picture of pure elegance.

Kevin Roeckl knows the breed well. And he has made capturing Dobermans as they are – their elegance as well as the softer side shared with close friends – a big part of his life’s work. An artist for more than 30 years, Roeckl has a talent for capturing real moments in time, and the character of his subjects, on “canvas” in a way that is so realistic they are often mistaken for photographs.

Each of his Doberman paintings has a story. We will share a few of those stories in future blog posts. In the meantime, enjoy the excerpt below of our conversation with Kevin Roeckl. And if you would like the opportunity to win a 12X16 inch reproduction of one of his Doberman inspired artworks shown here, simply post a comment to this blog indicating which of the four prints you’d like to win. A randomly selected winner (print valued at $65) will be announced one week from today. Our thanks to Mr. Roeckl for donating one of his fine art prints in honor of the Doberman Centennial.


Q: What is it about Dobermans that inspires you to paint them?
A: Their poetic beauty and that near-human mind that makes them such fun to be around. Dobermans provide never-ending poses and expressions that are graceful, fascinating, or just plain cute.

Q: How and when did you start featuring Dobermans in your work?
A: In 1990, when my beloved Jake was 7 years old, I was injured in a violent crime. Jake saved my life. For the next year, while I was caught in the nightmare of the medical and legal system, there was retaliation from the "defendants." Twice more Jake stood by me and protected me from harm. Through it all, when everything around me seemed like treacherous quicksand, my courageous, devoted Doberman was a solid rock who never failed me. When I was finally able to work again, all I wanted to paint was Jake. I had such admiration for him, he was the most beautiful thing in the whole universe.

Q: What Doberman piece are you most proud of? Why?
A: My "Self Portrait with Jake", one of the first things I painted after the year of trauma. At that time it felt like me and Jake alone against the world, and the portrait captured that, the way we were connected at the heart. I was proud that I captured his dignity and nobility --- that head study of Jake is "Aristocrat", one of the prints I'm offering.

Q: What are you working on right now?
A: A portrait of a Doberman who was recently lost to cancer. Throughout my career I've painted more Memorial portraits - of both humans and dogs - than of living beings. This may sound strange, but I found that I have a gift for connecting with the spirit of the subject when I paint their portrait, and capturing their essence in a way you can't get from a photograph. That is the beauty of Fine Art, the emotion the artist puts into the work.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Colin Powell, JFK, Eisenhower and the Doberman?

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Whether you're a kid, or a kid at heart, you've probably heard of GI Joe. You may even know that the line of military toys produced by Hasbro led to the coining of the phrase "action figure" in the first place. Over the years, Hasbro has honored a few distinguished individuals with GI Joe action figures. Included on that list is Colin Powell, JFK, Eisenhower, George Washington and yes, the Doberman Pinscher.

The U.S. Marine Dog Unit, released by Hasbro a few years ago, features a GI Joe WWII-era marine action figure accompanied by his faithful Doberman friend. The toy pays tribute to the many real-life Dobermans who sacrificed their own lives to save the men in their marine platoon. This historical event is why Dobermans, like their Marine comrades, will forever be referred to as Semper Fi, or "Always Faithful." A permanent memorial was created at the Marine War Dog Cemetary in Guam to honor their many sacrifices. It is guarded by a Doberman Pinscher statue.

More details regarding the War Dogs' story is printed on the back of the Gi Joe toy box:

US Marine War Dog Unit

World War II saw a new breed of Marine digging in on the front lines of the Pacific theater. They were the USMC War Dogs, and they were fitting companions for Marines who had already earned the nickname of "Devil Dogs." The uncommon valor of these canine soldiers and their Marine Handlers saved countless American lives and made a major contribution to the struggle for victory.

Dogs have been widely used on the battlefield for years, even prior to World War II. However, the USMC War Dog program was the first to focus on the use of canines in combat situations. It was a gamble that paid off well. Shortly after 1942 when the program started, Handlers and their dogs found themselves in the midst of combat. They were so effective that by the end of the war, there were six platoons with over one thousand USMC War Dogs.

About seventy-five percent of the War Dogs were Doberman Pinschers. The Corps found the breed to have qualities that made exceptional fighters; they were loyal, intelligent, easily trained and their short hair helped them adapt to the hot, humid terrain of the Pacific theater. And like their human counterparts, the War Dogs underwent rigorous training to acclimate them to combat situations and to perform specific duties. As sniper hunters, their keen senses of smell and hearing allowed them to reveal the hidden assassins quickly and effectively. Up until then, sniper activity was a tremendous problem for the U.S. troops in the Pacific, especially within abandoned villages where snipers were easily concealed and extremely dangerous to find for humans, but easily sniffed out by the U.S. War Dogs. Perfect for detecting mines and booby traps, War Dogs could find mines that were buried six to eight feet deep. As messenger dogs, they were fitted with saddlebags, which carried maps, orders, ammo or medical supplies. As scouts, they took the "point" -- their superior senses enabled them to detect enemy activity well ahead of their position, sometimes up to twenty or thiry minutes away.

The heart of their military effectiveness was the unique bond that War Dogs shared with their Handlers. Functioning like a single unit, War Dogs and the Handlers were together every hour of the day. They protected each other. Handlers carried rations for their four-legged friends and were trained in canine first aid. In addition to their combat duties, the dogs gave a snese of security to all the troops, who knew the dogs would alert them to hostile sounds and smells beyond their own perception. Today, a War Dog Memorial on Guam commemorates the tremendous contribution made by War Dogs in the Pacific. Fiercely loyal, highly intelligent, and utterly fearless -- the USMC War Dogs were, in every sense, full-blooded Marines.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Help Us Unravel a Mystery of Doberman Proportions

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Doberman Heroes loves a good mystery and a reader from Atlanta supplied us with one that we need your help to solve.

As you can see, the Dobe depicted in the photo above is highly decorated with elaborate medals. What could the medals signify? What did this dog achieve? The photo has been in the family in question's possession since the 1970s, but the context behind the picture has been lost!

The most significant clue we have is located on the reverse side of the photo. The Russian text translates literally:

"In memory to sister Riva and brother Motya from brother Lazar and his dog “Dolli” Doberman-Pincher, year of 1971"

We do know the medals were from a Russian dog association (specific name of organization unknown).

Get in contact with Doberman Heroes if you can help us solve the mystery!

Monday, June 23, 2008

Doberman, the Movie?

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At its National Specialty in Topeka this year, the Doberman Pinscher Club of America will preview a new film that is sure to be a treat for dog lovers everywhere.

War Dogs of the Pacific covers the exploits of the courageous canines that served in the Marine war dog platoon during World War II. Check out the new film site to be among the first to get a sneak peek at the documentary, learn more about the war dog handlers featured in the film and check out the director's bio.

Also learn more about the fearless Dobermans spotlighted as part of this film at the Centennial Website.

We'll post more content and information about the film here as soon as it is available.

Stay tuned!