Having spent just four days together, Catherine Svilicic and her family were still getting to know their adopted Doberman Khan. But then, without warning, something truly shocking happened at their house. While the dog was outside with Catherine’s 17-month-old daughter Charlotte, he took hold of her by the diaper and chucked her down the yard.
Why would something like that happen? Were there any signs or hints of unrest? Apparently not. In fact, Khan and Charlotte appeared to have been building a bond together over the course of those first four days. So it’s fair to say that Catherine and her clan wouldn’t have seen it coming.
Then again, here’s something else to consider. Supposedly, Charlotte’s family were a little hesitant about welcoming a dog like Khan into their home to begin with. You see, as an adopted canine, they had a few concerns as to how he’d act around the house. Yet their attitude eventually softened.
After all, it seems Catherine had a real desire to bring a dog into her family. We’re sure plenty of other parents can relate to that! It’s always nice to have a pet at home while your kids grow up. But that made Khan’s actions all the more shocking. Had they come to the right choice?
At the time of the incident, Catherine and her clan were residents of Cairns, Australia. Now they live in the city of Brisbane – where Charlotte’s mom originally grew up. The matriarch has no fewer than four children too, so the family was already substantial during the period when Khan arrived. Where did the Doberman come from, though?
Well, as we mentioned a little earlier, Khan was adopted. Prior to going home with the Svilicics, he’d been staying at the Doberling Boarding Kennels facility in Mareeba, Australia. As for why the dog was there, he had endured a pretty difficult upbringing. You might need a tissue for this next part!
To explain more, Catherine spoke to The Cairns Post newspaper in October 2007. She revealed, “When Kerry Kinder (Doberling Boarding Kennels owner) rescued [Khan], he was starving, had broken ribs and had been beaten – he was an abused dog. It was borderline on whether or not he should be put down because he was in such a bad way.”
What an awful story! Mind you, could that explain why Khan went after Charlotte in the manner that he did in the garden? Alongside that, the Doberman breed already has something of a bad reputation, so is that another factor to consider as well? There’s a lot of things at play here.
Regarding that second point, you might be wondering why Dobermans are looked upon in a negative light. Well, from the outset of their breeding, the large dogs served a pretty fearsome purpose. They were guardians to a very unpopular taxman living in Apolda, Germany. Bet you didn’t see that coming!
His name was Karl Friedrich Louis Doberman, and as you can probably tell, he was responsible for the Dobermans’ emergence. To find the perfect canine bodyguard, he bred several different dogs together, such as the great Dane, German pinscher and rottweiler. The tax collector operated the nearby pound you see, so he had plenty of choice.
Following lots of refinement, the dobermans that we’re familiar with now finally came into being. But alongside their role as intimidating guardians, the canines’ reputation wasn’t helped due to their connection with the authorities either. For instance, the U.S. Marine Corps named them as the “official War Dog” throughout World War Two.
And let’s be honest – a “War Dog” doesn’t sound that friendly! Anyway, the Dobermans carried messages for the military over the course of the conflict. The police looked to utilize the breed for their own use too, which further suggested that they weren’t the ideal pet to have at home.
Outside of that, though, are there any other explanations behind the Dobermans’ bad rap? Quite simply – yes. You see, the large dogs have riled up certain people down the years thanks to sporadic instances of aggressive behavior. But at the same time, these moments are just occasional, in case you were wondering.
Specifically, Dobermans are more inclined to show their fearsome side towards other dogs. You might’ve experienced this first-hand when walking your pooch! Yet the problem can be made worse if the canines aren’t trained correctly. Breeding can play a part in that as well, so there’s not just one reason behind such behavior.
Even so, is that really enough for Dobermans to be called a “bully breed”? In truth, it probably isn’t. As it turns out, these dogs are actually very friendly with adults and kids. They treat strangers the same way too – so long as they’ve received the right training, of course!
If we take all of that on board, maybe Khan’s actions can’t be solely attributed to his breed. But what about his status as a rescue dog? Is that a potential risk? Alongside the Doberman’s perhaps unfairly attributed reputation, some individuals have cited this concern as a reason to be reticent about bringing those pooches into their homes for a long time now.
With that in mind, one man looked to clear up some of those worries while speaking to Reader’s Digest magazine in December 2019. His name was Michael Morefield, and he worked at the Arizona Animal Welfare League as the marketing and communications director. During their chat, Morefield zoned in on the idea that rescue pets were “broken.”
Morefield explained, “We have happy and healthy puppies from ‘oops’ litters where people didn’t spay or neuter their pets. We (also) have adults that are playful, active, and love other dogs, but their family couldn’t care for them for one reason or another.” Simply put, they don’t all have bad backgrounds.
And Morefield isn’t the only person who’s tried to debunk the misconceptions. For instance, the Blue Cross website has dedicated an entire page to this subject, hoping to sway the doubters. At the same time, though, there are certain precautions that you need to take when bringing one of those dogs home.
It could be argued that the biggest precaution was flagged up by Reader’s Digest. According to the publication, parents should always stay in the same room with their kids around recently adopted rescue dogs. Why’s that? Well, it’s said that some of these canines have the potential to be “unpredictable,” so it’s a way to be careful.
On that note, we know exactly what you’re thinking – did Catherine ignore that advice? After all, she left her young daughter near a dog that had only been with them for four days. But before the fingers of blame get pointed, let’s clear up what actually happened on that fateful day in 2007.
Yes, Charlotte Svilicic was close to Khan in her family’s yard. And the dog did indeed yank her up in the air by her diaper to chuck the toddler across the garden. Yet all was not as it seemed. To shed some light on the events, Catherine continued her conversation with The Cairns Post in October 2007.
Catherine recalled, “If I had not seen it with my own eyes, I would never have believed it. Khan was really concentrating and was acting aggressive towards Charlotte and kept trying to nudge her, but it wasn’t working. So he grabbed her by the back of the nappy and threw her more than a meter.”
And here comes the surprise. Catherine added, “Charlotte looked pretty shocked and then Khan screamed. I realized quickly it was a snake, and Khan had been trying to get in between her and the snake before he threw her.” How heroic of him! But what kind of snake was it?
Unfortunately for Khan, he’d just crossed paths with a mulga snake – otherwise known as the king brown. Now to give you a better idea of just how dangerous these reptiles are, Australian Geographic has compiled a list on its website. This scary creature came sixth in the rankings, not far behind creatures such as the eastern brown snake.
Here’s where it gets more interesting, though. Unlike some other deadly snakes, the king brown’s poison isn’t that harmful in small measurements. Yet it doesn’t do “small.” In fact, this reptile fires out its toxin in massive amounts. No serpent in the animal kingdom can match it, so you have a right to be scared!
To break things down even further, Australian Geographic drew up a terrifying comparison. According to the publication, a tiger snake releases up to 40 milligrams of poison when it attacks. As for the king brown, it ejects about 150mg. Yes, you’re reading that correctly. And it only gets worse.
You see, king brown snakes are incredibly vicious when they strike. If one grabs you, there’s a good chance that it won’t let go – it might even gnaw! Regarding the toxin itself, the Australian magazine said that it kills your blood cells, causing major issues with your nerves and muscles.
Keeping that in mind, you’re no doubt wondering how Khan reacted to the bite in his family’s yard. Unsurprisingly, it didn’t look good. At all. The poor Doberman scuttled into the house and then tumbled down as his body succumbed to the effects of the king brown’s poison. But he was in luck during that scary period.
Yes, Catherine was on hand to get Khan to the nearby vet, as she desperately tried to save him. The dog received a much-needed anti-venom dose to counteract the poison, yet that didn’t signal the end of his fight. In fact, it was touch-and-go if he’d make it over the course of that evening.
It was difficult, but Khan thankfully shrugged off his ailments and lived. He proved his recovery by chomping down a sizable breakfast afterwards. The Doberman had certainly earned it. What a hero! Mind you, his former carer Kinder wasn’t at all shocked by his actions that day.
As Catherine had mentioned above, Kinder ran the facility that housed Khan following his tough upbringing. The kennels boss told The Advertiser newspaper, “He was starving for attention and wanted to be loved, because he came from an abused home. So I’m not surprised about what he has done at his new home.”
Not only that, but this act of heroism might’ve been ingrained on a genetic level as well. How so? Well, a breeder revealed that Khan’s granddad had been involved in a situation like this one in the past. Yes, he too prevented a tragedy while protecting a youngster. That’s some strong DNA, right?!
Yet Khan and his granddad aren’t the only dogs who’ve risked it all for their beloved families. For instance, a boxer named Nala stepped up when she was out with her owners in October 2017. Just like the heroic Doberman, she was also adopted, joining Anthony Borquez’s clan in Lancaster, California.
Anyway, Nala was enjoying a stroll with Borquez’s wife and stepson when a rattlesnake suddenly confronted them. At that point, the brave boxer got between them and the deadly reptile, taking a stinging bite to the snout. Ouch! But according to young Cole Lewis, she didn’t seem fazed by the injury.
In an interview posted on KABC-TV’s website in October 2017, Lewis recalled, “[Nala] waited until we were safe. She stood her ground. She didn’t like whimper or anything when she got bit[ten].” That’s one tough pooch. Even so, she still required immediate treatment, and the kid played a big role in that.
Borquez said, “When my son had told me [the snake] was light green, I knew that it was a Mojave green. They’re extremely poisonous, way more so than a diamondback.” On that note, he quickly transported Nala to the vet, where she received life-saving care. Phew! The boxer rejoined her clan the following day.
And much like Kinder when she heard the news about Khan, Borquez wasn’t surprised by Nala’s bravery. He told the KABC-TV website, “I grew up with boxers. They’re incredibly protective dogs. That’s why we got the breed. We got her from a rescue. We rescued her and she rescued us.”
Going back to Khan, you might be curious how Catherine and her clan treated him once he returned home. Well, the Doberman received a hero’s welcome, with Charlotte’s mom admitting that he deserved all the pampering in the world. In fact, if the canine had a voice, he could’ve asked for anything.
Catherine informed The Cairns Post, “If Khan wants a gold bowl, Khan gets it. We owe him for the rest of his life.” And her kind words didn’t end there. She also told the Daily Mail newspaper, “He saved [Charlotte’s] life by risking his own. From now on, he’s Khan the Wonder Dog.” That’s got a nice ring to it!