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Dog Heaven

by Clare Coppa

It’s a dog’s life but not for those living with Tom and Donna Doane, breeders of purebred boxers. Thirteen boxers and four rescued dogs enjoy a newly-built kennel and ample running space on their 25-acre [10 hectares] home in southeast Wisconsin.

“We were first owned by a boxer in 1984, and have never recovered,” begin Tom and Donna on their Web site. To date they bred seven American Kennel Club champions including Cody, currently the sixth top boxer in the nation, Tom said.

The couple also extends their kennel to abandoned dogs. At their previous home in Cibolo, Texas, they sheltered nearly 25 dogs including those with medical problems. “If a shelter called,” Tom recalled, “we would foster them for awhile and find them another home.”

The Doanes decided to raise boxers because they are family-oriented and friendly. They began to compete in shows with their second boxer, Angel, who became an AKC champion. Joey, their first, wasn’t show quality but could answer the phone, Tom said. She would knock off the receiver and leave callers puzzled.

Tom is an environmental scientist and a longtime member of ASTM Committee E47 on Biological Effects and Environmental Fate, which develops standard tests of physical and chemical stress on plants, animals, and the environment. He was an ASTM director and E47 chairman. He currently is director of Air, Water, and Soil with the U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service Eastern Region in Milwaukee. His wife Donna is an amateur veterinarian for TADD Boxers, the name of their kennel. She administers shots and cares for 17 canines that consume 25 pounds [11 kg] of food daily.

“Dogs will teach each other tricks,” Tom noted. “We got them an indestructible ball about the size of a soccer ball and the dogs will play with it. Two or three of them will actually bang it around and push it back and forth and get their noses up against it and send it directly up in the air.”

The Doanes must be doing something right; the oldest in their breed, Running Bear, will be 105 in January 2002. (That’s 15 in dog years, seven for each human year.) “He is totally there. His hearing is very acute; his eyesight is very good,” Tom said. Boxers bred by the Doanes are lucky dogs. “There’s usually a dog or two on the bed at night,” Tom laughed, saying they purchased a king-sized bed to accommodate them.

Copyright 2001, ASTM

(left) Donna and Tom Doane With Boxer Puppies