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It's Our Turn: Unexpected terror in the garage

Have you ever been so scared so quickly that you didn't even realize it at the time?

It happened to me a few weeks ago.

I was alone in the house. My wife, Celeste, went on an errand and told me to listen for the delivery guy because she was expecting a package. About 15 minutes later, I heard a noise from our garage — a weird noise, something moving around. But I just assumed it was the delivery guy.

I opened the door to the garage and was shocked by more than a few things. First off, I noticed that our garage — which we had tidied up a few weeks ago by hauling out several boxes of junk — was not tidy anymore.

Garbage was strewn everywhere — food scraps, paper plates, bills, envelopes and pieces of a torn-up garbage bag.

While my eyes were taking that all in, I saw what was responsible for the mess. It was standing, soundless and motionless, in the middle of the garbage.

Without even thinking, I yelled very loudly, using a voice I don't ever recall using before. "GET OUT!" I hollered. "GET OUT OF HERE!"

The culprit raised his head and we locked eyes.

It was a Doberman — the biggest Doberman I'd ever seen. Of course, the dog seems to get a little bigger every time I tell this story, but his back appeared to be about as high as my waist.

I'd never seen a Doberman anywhere near our neighborhood so I didn't know where he came from. His appearance was as unexpected as a snowstorm in July.

We looked at each other for another split second when, again, without thinking about it, I raised my arm and pointed, "GET OUT!"

Without a sound, the Doberman dropped his eyes, turned away and walked out of the garage. It wasn't until then that I realized just how scared I was.

I waited until I couldn't see him anymore — and until my heart rate returned to normal — and then I cleaned up the mess while mulling over a few things:

• Yelling and getting confrontational probably isn't the smartest thing to do with a Doberman.

• What would have happened if the Doberman didn't want to get out? What if he wanted to finish his snack? He was only a couple of steps away from the door. He could have charged at me and I'm not sure I could have closed the door in time.

• How dangerous are Dobermans? They look fearsome with their sleek, muscular shape and attentively raised ears. But are they vicious?

I was able to get some more insights into that third question with a few Google searches.

Some of the information I found was scary, like this from www.workingmanlaw.com: "A healthy, young Doberman can easily bite with enough strength to break a grown man's forearm with a single bite. That's why these dogs are considered one of the most dangerous."

But I think I was probably overreacting.

According to the website, www.pethelpful.com, Dobermans are ranked as the 10th "most dangerous" dog breeds based on dog attacks from 1982 to 2013, well below the top-ranked pit bulls and Rottweilers, and even the sixth-ranked German Shepherd and the ninth-ranked Chow.

The bottom line: Seeing a Doberman on the loose doesn't mean it's going to inflict mortal wounds. The website, www.thenest.com, put it this way: "Because dogs are distinct individuals, it's difficult to ascribe a specific trait common to all members of a breed. Dobermans can be dangerous, but so can Chihuahuas and poodles. Dobermans have an undeserved bad reputation because of their service to the police and military, and because they look so competent."

So there it is, another lesson learned. Don't jump to conclusions because of appearances — even when you're scared out of your wits.

• • •

"It's Our Turn" is a weekly column that rotates among members of the Echo Press editorial staff.

Al Edenloff

Al Edenloff is the news and opinion page editor for the Echo Press. He was born in Alexandria and lived most of his childhood in Parkers Prairie. He graduated with honors from Moorhead State University with a degree in mass communications, print journalism. He interned at the Echo Press in the summer of 1983 and was hired a year later as a sports reporter. He also worked as a news reporter/photographer. Al is a four-time winner of the Minnesota Newspaper Association's Herman Roe Award, which honors excellence in editorial writing.  

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