The Definition of “Man’s Best Friend”

by Joan Harrigan

Reprinted from: The Canine Chronicle

We’ve all seen Rin Tin Tin’s acts of heroism on the silver screen or read about heroic dogs rescuing drowning victims or finding lost children. But it is not every day that one hears about a puppy -- less than 4-months-old -- prompting his owner to seek medical treatment and perhaps saving her life as a result.

Diane and Harry Papazian of Staten Island, N.Y. lost their first Doberman, Jet to liver failure when he was only four. Handler Kelly Marquis served as a reference to breeder Susan James of Raindance Dobermans, who agreed to sell them a show prospect puppy. “We were supposed to take him home at 16 weeks, but we just couldn’t wait,” Diane Papazian explains. They picked Troy up when he about ten-weeks-old, and allowed him to sleep in bed with them at night.

“Troy was well behaved, but he kept nuzzling my left breast,” Papazian says. Troy was persistent, and soon Papazian noticed that the area began to itch. She felt a lump in her breast that she hadn’t noticed before and saw her doctor the next day.

“I’d had a clear digital mammogram only five months before,” Papazian continues. When the lump was diagnosed as an aggressive malignancy, already at Stage 2 and three centimeters in size, Papazian realized what Troy had done for her. Had the diagnosis not been made until her next mammogram, her prognosis might have been very different. Today, Papazian is cancer-free.

Troy grew up to be GCh Raindance Led Zeppelin of Marquis—and an Award of Merit winner at Westminster 2014. At home, “he’s a real lap dog,” Papazian says. He’s very gentle, wonderful with children, and not easily spooked by anything. He’s appropriately protective, sounding the alarm when a stranger approaches the house, but quieting instantly when the person is introduced as a friend. When he’s with Marquis for shows, her 5-year-old daughter, Gabrielle sleeps with him.

Marquis calls Troy “the best boy I have ever shown -- solid, dependable, and willing.” His startling ability -- as a very young puppy -- to recognize that something was amiss with Diane Papazian has won him a nomination for an “Emerging Hero” award from the American Humane Association. The Papazians have also done numerous media interviews about their companion and show dog.

In the benching area,Harry Papazian brings Troy out of his crate to meet a new set of admirers. He’s a big, solid, handsome black and tan boy, but he gambols like a puppy in front of Harry. Only after an enthusiastic greeting for the owner who has been standing right outside his crate does Troy turn his attention to his public.

Not every dog can be a hero. Not every dog needs to be. In Troy, the Papazians have just what a Doberman was meant to be -- a calm, intelligent, trainable dog. That he also happens to excel as a show dog is a bonus. That he was able to spot a medical issue with his new owner is nothing short of extraordinary.