~by Linda Laidlaw Pringle

Kathy Tallman and her Lowchen rescue family member, “Doc.”

What a total surprise! This telephone chat with Kathy and her daughter, Danielle Tallman of upper New York State, isn’t requiring the tissue box after all! Instead, it’s difficult to track the conversation, as laughter and voices are jostling to toss in tales starring “Doc,” their dearly departed 16 year old Lowchen. Clearly, this fellow provided a life filled with experiences, a ride they enjoyed to the max!

Quickly, I am introduced to the life of "Doc", as Danielle shares how a Lowchen claimed ownership of their hearts and home:

“Doc was only 3 years old when he ended up in rescue. He had been abused, starved and eventually returned to the breeder. It was said that he was a mean dog. It was very quickly realized that there wasn't a mean bone in Doc's body and the search was on for a loving home so well deserved by this special guy. You could never have told me at the time that the home Doc was looking for was ours. Allergies and asthma in my family had always ruled out having a dog. We resigned ourselves to this, not realizing that there are breeds that are much less likely to cause problems in households like ours. Fate stepped in and showed itself in quite a few ways to bring us together with Doc. It was fate that one member of my family persistently campaigned for a dog. It was fate that she was friends with a special young lady named Julie. It was fate that Julie worked for Carol Strong. And most of all it was fate that myself and my father were in a snowmobile accident one day. The resulting concussions were just the opportunity the rest of the family had been waiting for! We had agreed to have a dog, they said. We just couldn't remember due to our head injuries! The very next day Doc came home to live with us. The agreement made was that Doc could come live with us, but he had to sleep in a crate and be confined to a certain area of the house. This lasted approximately 5 minutes. Doc jumped onto the couch, cuddled up next to us, and stole all of our hearts. ”
“Doc” clearly loved his position as Tallman family member and added to it “Lowchen Guardian.” Frequently, he was the first to correctly determine who was worthy of the family’s friendship. Visitors conveyed amazement that “Doc” quietly observed them, as he made personal assessments. Danielle states that he “had an uncanny ability in sizing people up and a unique way of expressing himself. “Doc” actually talked, expressed his opinion, and left you with no doubt (about) his thoughts on the situation.” Yet, he was always accepting of children.  In fact, he sensed that they might be uncomfortable, so he let them set boundaries. “Doc” offered friendship by extending his paw; if the child reached out for it, he moved closer and gave a kiss.

Soon, secrets were shared. Once thin as a skeleton, he alarmed the family’s veterinarian with his ever-expanding girth! Danielle was concerned, but Kathy calmly reassured her daughter that there was no cause for alarm. Weeks later, as “Doc” began flashing a svelte silhouette, Kathy confessed that she had addressed his frail frame issues by making full breakfasts three times a week, complete with cheese-topped scrambled eggs, bacon and buttered toast... and in the afternoons, they enjoyed sour cream glazed donuts! Soon, the local paper included a story about this relationship, adding that “Doc” stared at the junk food cupboard, and then at Kathy, longingly. She was well aware that this little lion was training her to be his mind reader...and Kathy freely admits that he was occasionally pleased with her grasp of the subject!

“Doc” and Kathy became a strong team. The comforting times spent rocking him on her lap wiped away flashbacks to his traumatic past. The rail-thin dog that some predicted would have life-long eating issues won a battle with the bulge! Sure, the Tallman family was aware that criticism might come from the nutrition police set, but this was their first pet! They were savouring every minute of this new-found love!

“Doc” enjoys being the centre of attention at family gatherings and good-naturedly dresses for each occasion!

Family members claim that “Doc” simply knew that he was very special and an obvious winner the day that he won Best Veteran in Show at the Lowchen Club show, 2005. "Doc's" diet paid off! He and Kathy were an unbeatable team!

One year passed. The Tallman family learned of a Shih Tzu puppy requiring a good home. Perhaps, “Doc” might appreciate a companion?  At first, “Doc Tallman” was flabbergasted that his family thought a “pet,” especially this pesky puppy, “Theo”, was on his wish list! Shortly thereafter, the two spent a vacation with Danielle. She fell in love, as they filled her home with fun times. A quick call was made to Carol Strong (Bihar Kennel) and Danielle’s life with her very own Lowchen commenced.

Kathy enjoys relaxing times with her Tallman fur family. Clearly, rules stating “no pets on the furniture” begged to be broken!

“From the end spring new beginnings.” ~Pliny the Elder.

Now it’s time for reflection. 13 years have passed since “Doc,” the Lowchen, became a Tallman. Recently, at age 16, he passed over the “Rainbow Bridge.” Even during this period of acute sadness, Kathy and Danielle express gratitude and joy. Memories bring comfort, happiness and appreciation for the many new beginnings that he helped foster:

Proudly, Kathy states that she has placed approximately 30 canines in need of carefully chosen homes. So much knowledge was gleaned through experiences with “Doc.” Kathy adds that “Rescue dogs are not broken. It is often the environment they came from (that is). Once you open your heart (to them), there is no way to describe the love and comfort they give freely and unconditionally.”

Danielle enjoys a new avocation, thanks to being introduced to the world of Lowchen by "Doc." She now breeds and shows Lowchen. Her Dungloe Kennel brings priceless friendships and experiences. In fact, the arrival of pups has turned the Tallman clan into puppy focused paparazzi, as precious moments are captured!

Danielle has added showing and occasionally breeding Lowchen to her varied interests. Here, she and Izzy participate in a Lowchen conformation event.

Kathy and newborn puppy, "Pearl", enjoying some cuddles. A few weeks later, "Pearl" became Kathy's newest Tallman family member!


Both mother and daughter express frustration that some consider the close bond of human and pet as “odd.” As health professionals, they’ve witnessed the benefits of this shared affection, even on blood pressure.

Initially, it’s determined that the Tallman family should be lauded as True Lowchen Guardians for saving this starved and frightened little lion.  And so they should! Yet, there is much insistence that “Doc” saved them! Danielle adds: “We thought we were rescuing you, but you rescued us.” There is no dispute that he brought unconditional love and support, while fostering many new life experiences. He is their TRUE LOWCHEN GUARDIAN: “DOC TALLMAN.”