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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.

17 Comments to “The Old Great Dane”

  1. Luan says:

    Thank you Fred, for touching us with these stories that deserve to be told. I do hope that she can be treated and get to live out her remaining days in care and comfort with the Angel who stepped forward on her behalf.

  2. Anonymous says:

    oh god, I cried so hard over this post. Wow, the people that left her like that...I just don't have the words of how sickening this world continues to be.... but thankful that there is a small number of Angel's out there.

    I can't imagine how seeing her there must have hurt you as well. I hope the wonderful person that stepped up can give us all an update.

  3. Blanche says:

    What a beautiful old dame. So many good thoughts out to her and the blessed person who stepped up for her. I grew up with danes. They are something special.

  4. RebTee says:

    Thank you, thank you. And thank you to the angel who has taken her to help her - whatever that might mean.

    Thank you.

  5. Maggi Burtt says:

    Thank you for letting us "meet" this girl. Thank you for speaking for her. Thanks to the person who took her to be taken care of, whether that is just a day or two of love or a warm embrace while she is let go. Someone cared. This doesn't take away the sadness and anger at whoever left her behind. Coward.

  6. Anonymous says:

    i have admired your blog from a distance over the last year or so but this post made me want to let you know how much i appreciate what you do. you bring hope and levity to utter heartbreak. good for you.

  7. Anonymous says:

    It just breaks my heart that anyone would abandon an old, injured and/or sick dog like that. How heartless. To whoever it was who took pity on her and took her home: thank you. May your kindness be returned to you thousandfold.

    Please let us know if you hear any updates, Fred.

  8. GoodDog says:

    Yay for Fred. Double yay for Sweatpea's - What a wonderful, wonderful business...

  9. I am so happy to see that Beth has found a loving protector and guardian for her remaining life. Makes my day, my week, my month. Clearly 'a woman deserving of praise'....

  10. I am a little in shock over all the posts and followers who have commented on Beth. Here I was thinking, I need to help her because no one else will....

    I am no angel. I am a sucker for a pretty face. Six rescued Danes in the same number of years. My wonderful husband has just grown used to it. He doesn't even try to stop me at this point. He's a smart man that way. :o)

    How strange it is that so many people are angry at the person who left her. Quite frankly, if they hadn't I would have this wonderful soul sleeping in my living room right now. Sure, they went about it in the wrong way, but I see Beth as a gift. I thank karma for sending her to us.

    She's in good hands. I promise.

  11. SA MVH says:

    Wow, what a story..........

  12. Alex says:

    Just goes to show, no matter what the dog's conditions, no matter how old, no matter how long she's been in a shelter, there is someone out there who will give her a chance and a forever home.

  13. Hi Fred,

    I am in tears reading your post even though I know that this lovely lady has a happy ending. I hesitate to post this but I must, and you will decide if you will allow this post.

    RIGHT NOW we have a 2 year old Great Dane called Hank. He was found with his eyes scratched out and only recently (one month after the incident) did the vet diagnose acute glaucoma. He is on the verge of being put down. He is young and sweet but his quality of life is not good. It is not his fault, all that has happened to him was because of irresponsible owners. I am trying my best to get him to proper medical care and a good home. We are in Greece so you can imagine, it is not easy. I weep for Hank. He lives in a shelter but he is confused and hurts himself constantly, bumping into walls and objects. I am trying to find him a good home, a stable environment and proper medical attention. If you would like to see his case, please visit our FB page:
    Just scroll through and stop at the pics of the black Great Dane. If you don't think that this is right, please do not post this comment. But I NEEDED to write this after reading your post. Hank is YOUNG. He could go on to have a good life if he found the right family. Hell, he could recover some of his eyesight. But right now, right here in Greece (CRISIS)? He will be put down very soon.
    Anyway, thank you for your work and photos, they are an inspiration.

  14. Fred says:

    Vida, heartbreaking. I know all the rescues are flooded but have you tried contacting Tails from Greece? I don't know what their operating protocols are but they have Canadian connections and have brought rescued dogs over.

  15. Sorry to bother you. I love the photos you've taken of Beth. You've captured her smile so well. I won't have her for long and am snapping as many pics as I can right now. Would it be too much to ask you to send the photos you've posted?

    Thanks so much!
    Sara @ Sweetpea's

  16. Fred says:

    Sweetpea, pics sent to your store email (two rather large files). Bad news from vet?

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A request

The reason for this blog is to help get specific dogs adopted from TAS but equally important is to try to normalize the idea of shelter dogs being just as good and just as desirable as any other dogs including those which are regularly merchandised by backyard breeders, puppy millers and those few remaining pet store owners who still feel a need to sell live animals. The single greatest stigma shelter animals still face is the belief that shelter animals are substandard animals. Anyone who has had enough experience with shelter animals knows this is untrue but the general public hasn't had the same experiences you've had. They see a nice dog photo in a glossy magazine and too many of them would never think of associating that dog with a dog from a shelter. After all, no one abandons perfectly good dogs, right? Unfortunately, as we all know, perfectly good dogs are abandoned all the time.

The public still too often associates shelter dogs with images of beat up, sick, dirty, severely traumatized animals and while we definitely sometimes see victims such as these, they are certainly not the majority and, regardless, even the most abused animals can very often be saved and made whole again.

Pound Dogs sometimes discusses the sad histories some of the dogs have suffered. For the most part, though, it tries to present the dogs not as victims but as great potential family members. The goal is to raise the profiles of animals in adoption centers so that a potential pet owner sees them as the best choice, not just as the charity choice.

So, here's the favour I'm asking. Whenever you see a dog picture on these pages you think is decent enough, I'd like you to consider sharing it on Facebook or any other social media sites you're using (I know many of you do this already and thank you for that). And when you share it, please mention that the dog in the photo is a shelter dog like so many other shelter dogs waiting for a home. If we can get even five percent of the pet buying public to see shelter dogs differently, to see how beautiful they are and how wonderful they are, and to consider shelter dogs as their first choice for a new family member, we can end the suffering of homeless pets in this country.