Thursday, June 28, 2012

Great Danes

I have decided that when my book is finally published, I'm going to donate a portion of the proceeds to a Great Dane rescue organization. One of my main characters is a Great Dane, after all. When I was 9 or 10 years old, my Aunt had a friend who was involved with a Great Dane rescue. My Aunt had already adopted 2 Great Danes and when this woman contacted her about one more, my Aunt called my Mom. My older sister wanted that dog. And so we got him. He was about 2 years old and had been found wandering the streets, terrified. He was wearing a choke collar that was so tight it had become embedded in his neck and had to be removed surgically. He wore forever a scar that was in the shape of a chain, the ghost of a noose. My sister Jody thought carefully about the name for him. She searched through some history book or other and found some ancient German character by the name of Johann Heindrich Von Daniker, and that was his new moniker. A big dog like that, after all, needed a big name. Below is a picture of a scupture entitled Ariadne On the Panther, by Johann Heinrich Von Danneker.
I wish I had a picture to post of our Johann. He was a Merle, black and grey. And he was a big one. When they stood him on his two hind legs, they measured him at 6'2". He was the sweetest, gentlest thing this side of heaven. I had a dog too, a little female dachshund, also a rescue dog (that is another story). Her name was Jaime and she may have been small, but she was full of vinegar. For whatever reason, Johann quickly took over the job as her protector-and her employee. Maybe he figured she was such a nasty little thing, she might just need him someday. There was a time when you could get big bones free at the grocery store and we used to give him a cow's thigh bone whenever we could get it. Once when she wasn't even full grown, she took that bone away from him and it took her about an hour to drag it from where he had it to the living room, where she wanted it. He followed slowly and mournfully after her, wondering whether he would ever get it back. That's just how he was. He wished she wouldn't take his stuff, but he wouldn't stop her, either. He didn't bother the cats that I remember, but Jaime was the only other dog he ever liked. We had a couple of male barn dogs outside and had to make sure he never got near them. Once two big dogs start fighting, it's very hard to get them apart. But we made it. He was the big protector of and loyal family member to all of us. We had him for several years. There are certain problems that tend to beset Great Danes and he was no exception. Danes of his type are prone to all kinds of difficulties, one of them being serious joint problems. The size of their large bodies is too much for their joints to handle after a time. I believe he started with having difficulty just walking. His legs could give out suddenly and he would lose his balance and sometimes he fell. Trips to the vet got him shots that would get him through until the next time. I don't know now what they gave him-it might have been steroids. If anyone knows different, please comment! When he got towards the end, he was more and more disabled. He often couldn't even get up, and when he did, being able to walk without falling was hit and miss. Every few months my parents would take him to the vet with the intention of putting him to sleep. They'd get there, get him the shot, and bring him back home. And he'd be better again for a little while, until next time. Then one time in November of 1983, they came back without him. I'm not really sure what it was that made me decide to make the dog in my story a Great Dane. Maybe one of the sweetest personalities I have ever known was whispering in my ear, prompting me, making me remember. He was not a demanding dog and a whispered suggestion would have suited him just fine. Someday I would like to have a Great Dane, but right now we just don't have the yard. I also have a little autistic son who has a phobia of dogs. He is used to my two little terriers but they are not allowed to touch him. I don't think he could live with such a large dog. So I thought, if I can't adopt and help one dog, maybe I can help many instead.

1 comment:

  1. Jane, this is so beautiful. You have a really big heart.