I got Donner when he was just 8 weeks old. His father was a German import and his mother a domestic-bred dog. We became devoted friends, and after he grew up, Donner became my devoted protector. He learned to track when he was just 12 weeks old, and never stopped on the track for the treats I had left to encourage him. When it was my scent he was following, nothing stopped him.

At one year old he had all his basic obedience down, and we started him on protection work. He took his job seriously, and quickly learned discretion as well as restraint. One day while visiting my parents, my dad pulled me on his lap and started patting my leg -- trying to see if he could aggravate Donner. I said, "Daddy, that's not a real good idea. If he thinks you're hurting me, he'll attack."
Donner's eyes were riveted on my face, watching my expression. He knew that as long as I was smiling, this was just a game. So I smiled and hugged my dad -- and Donner watched.

I'd like to say he never had a reason to hurt a soul, but that's not the way it happened. One Saturday night when I was out of town, my husband left the house to walk up the street and visit our neighbor. He left Donner in the back yard, as usual. When he came home a half hour later, the dog was gone, and there was blood splattered all over the bushes and trees out back, lots of blood. Two slats from the privacy fence were down. My husband called the police, who came over, looked around the back yard, and said, "Well, it looks like you've had a visit from the burglars that have been hitting this neighborhood. They like to jump over the privacy fence, break into the house, grab what they want, pass the stuff over the fence, and jump back out." And my husband said, "But what did they do to my dog!?" The officer shook his head. "I'd say it's more like 'what did the dog do to them?' Looks to me like you've got a good dog." The policeman made out a report and left. About an hour later Donner showed up at the front door, unhurt and ready to come inside. The burglars were never heard from again.


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