All week I'd been wanting to go see the ten year old Great Dane who was at Toronto Animal Services. Ten years is old for a Dane. I saw her in the Lost animals listings one night and when she was still there a day later, I knew no one was going to retrieve her. One doesn't "lose" a Great Dane and not go frantically searching through hell and high water for the dog until it's found.
I could see from the intake photo, there was something very wrong with her back foot, some growth or a swelling. It looked twice its normal size. I phoned in and was told she could barely stand. They didn't know if it was just because of the foot or if there were some additional problems as well contributing to her difficulties. Whatever the reasons, this dog was not in good shape. Old, discarded, diseased and/or injured. She wasn't going to make it into general adoption.
Great Danes, for all their hugeness, are somewhat fragile dogs. Physically, they are prone to some pretty nasty afflictions (bloat, heart disease, wobblers to name a few) but mentally as well, they are not so tough. They need their soft beds and their warm jackets and they need their humans. They don't do well in shelters.
On Saturday, I finally get into the shelter and first thing I ask about her. I'm told someone had found her tied up in a park. The dog could barely walk so there was no way it could have gotten away from her owner. She was tied there intentionally and left there intentionally. The person called TAS and an animal control officer brought her back to the shelter.
The Dane is grey and she looks obviously old. She's lying on blankets spotted with blood. She looks up and wags her tail when she sees me standing outside her door but she doesn't get up. She reminds me of Stella, of course. She's got the same goofy face, same jowly smile, same floppy ears and especially, the same eyes.
The cup half full part of me hopes that perhaps the dog's owners are somehow innocent of abandoning her. Perhaps she was stolen. Perhaps some misfortune befell the owner on their walk. None of this explains why no one has turned up looking for the dog after more than a week.
The cup half empty part of me - I refrain from letting it out this time.
I'm also thinking the Great Dane community in Toronto isn't that big. Someone out there must recognize this dog, know who its owners are.
When I open the door to her cage and step inside, she gets excited and her tail thump thumps against the floor even harder. She starts shuffling and makes moves to get up. I try to keep her lying down but she's insistent on standing. It takes her several seconds to maneuver herself into a position where she can push herself up without putting too much pressure on her foot. And then when she's up she's in obvious discomfort. Limping. She comes over a step and gives me a lick on the face.
I am proud to say I did not start bawling at this point.
I want to take her outside but I know I can't because of her foot. I want to take her home and give her a good last few days or weeks but I can't because I don't know where I'll be living and I don't know if I could handle it, the ending. Another dog maybe but not a Dane, not one that reminds me so much of Stella.
Or maybe I would have anyway. I don't know. Luckily, it wasn't a question I needed to answer. Someone else had already stepped up to the plate. I was told someone would be taking the Dane on Sunday, getting her checked out by a vet, making some hard decisions on the dog's behalf.
Sunday is today. When I phone at lunch, the Dane is already gone.
If you're reading this, thank you and please let me know how she's doing.
Update: Here she is in her new home at Sweetpea's.
Also, a visit.