|We Have the Perfect Dog:
We have the perfect dog. He is sweet, compassionate, smart, beautifulâ€¦ basically he is everything you could want in a dog. When he and I run our 2 miles every day, he stops traffic on a regular basis. People will actually stop their cars in the middle of the road to ask questions like, "What kind of dog is that?", or to crack the joke we've heard for years, "Did he leave his saddle at home?". The only answer that comes as a shock to these inquisitive minds is to the question, "Where did you get him?". They expect me to tell them some breeder, or perhaps even a pet store. When I tell them Great Dane Rescue I usually get a blank stare. That would have been my reaction six years ago too.
My husband and I agreed we wanted a full bred Great Dane, but rather than going to a breeder, we wanted to help one who needed a good home. And so it began with my husband and I combing the Internet looking at shelter web pages that posted information on Great Danes who were looking for adoption. That exercise ended with us arriving at a "shelter" (it appeared to be a vacated warehouse) who advertised having a Great Dane in need of a home only to be disappointed when they showed us a mix breed.
And so the search continued on the Internet, making phone calls all with no avail. Then we saw a website that talked about "Great Dane Rescue" and how this organization would find Danes, put them in foster homes until a permanent home could be found. We were thrilled. Finally someone could help us find exactly what we were looking for. We called the woman who assured us she had a full bred Great Dane who fit our criteria. She told us he was a male Dane, 9 months old, fawn and had been living with a family who had other dogs and he was fine with them.
Just when we thought our search had finally ended, we were in for yet another surprise. The night before our adoption was to happen, we called just to confirm the time and get directions. The woman who we had spoken to just a few days earlier didn't seem to know who we were. When we started asking about the dog we were coming to adopt she was hesitant about answering our questions. Finally she started to say something referring to the dog and said "she". We finally managed to find out that there was not, in fact, a 9 month old fawn male, but a 7 YEAR OLD BLACK FEMALE! From continued questioning it became clear this dog had not been with any foster family at all and no one was quite sure about the temperament.
I was incensed. I couldn't believe we had wasted almost a month with this woman who not only lied, but had expected payment of $500 for her dog. We ranted, raved, cursed and then we decided to do something. We went onto the web looking for information on Great Dane Rescue. On a site I found the name of the National Chairperson for Great Dane Rescue Pookie Kostuk for the Great Dane Club of America. The site included the phone number I decided to call.
The woman who answered the phone was patient with me as I began explaining why I was calling. After explaining what we had just gone through she let out a long sigh. "I'm sorry you had to go through this." She went on to explain there were people who basically sold the dogs as rescue, but actually had nothing to do with the organization. "I realize you have gone through a lot and I will try to help you." I gave her my information and hung up the phone. At this point I really wasn't sure who to trust anymore, but something about the voice on the other end of the phone struck a chord with me. Instinctively I felt like I had found a friend.
However, it seemed as though fate wasn't finished with us yet. A few days before Christmas we saw a posting about a Great Dane being held at a shelter within a few miles of my in-laws home. Since we were planning to make the three hour trip, we decided to call the shelter just to see what they had to say. Nothing could have prepared us for the next few weeks.
As long as I live, I will never forget the image that confronted my husband and me that Christmas morning. This Dane was what could be best described as a skeleton in a sweatshirt. He was full grown and fawn. His head hung down between his front legs as he ambled his way to our view. The staff explained the sweatshirt was to keep his body temperature up since he was nothing but bones. I remember the tears coming to my eyes when I murmured a soothing comment to him. That was when he lifted his head and looked at us for the first time. My heart stopped for a second when we made eye contact. He was absolutely gorgeous. The brown eyes that observed me were sweet and tired, but there was something there that told me he had been a very proud and confident boy before. I was hooked. This was it.
After endless arrangements were made, we made the three hour journey to come home without our baby. Because of inside "favors" that no one knew about except the director of the shelter, we were told the Dane was not adoptable because of his physical condition and he was being moved to a vet's office. Since we did not accept this as the final answer, we went to the vet's office and when confronted told us that there was a person on staff who MIGHT want to take the dog home with her. Apparently the director and vet had worked together on this and they were unwavering even though we were a definite home. We were devastated and Daneless again.
The first call when we returned home was to Pookie the Great Dane Rescue National Chairperson. She was so supportive and sympathetic. In retrospect I find it amazing considering the tragic circumstances which are commonplace for someone like her. She listened to me weep over this incident and was always there when I needed to talk. And through those days she always told me the same thingâ€¦ the right dog will find you when it is meant to be. There isn't a day that goes by that I'm not eternally thankful that she is 100% right.
Her phone call came right after Christmas. The Great Dane Rescue National Chairperson told me she had found us our boy. Through her vast Rescue organization, she became aware of a male Dane, 11 months old, friendly with other dogs who was waiting for a home. My husband and I were her first call. She held our hands and our hearts through the entire process from the initial meeting through the final adoption process. Knowing our past attempts and subsequent failures at adoptions, she was actively involved in helping us cope emotionally through the process, encouraging us when we would have moments of doubt and sharing our joy when the placement was made final. In the end, she proved to be invaluable to us, not only in finding us our dog, but because of her continued support and encouragement. Once again I was reminded to listen to my inner voice- the same one who told me I had found a friend during our first phone call. The voice couldn't have been more on target.
When Forbes came to us two days after his first birthday, we were in heaven. Because of neglect and abuse, his back foot was permanently disfigured but to us there could never be a more beautiful Dane in the world. From his first few days it was clear the abuse he suffered had made its mark. He was very skittish when any one of us made sudden movements, he suffered from an upset stomach where he lived on diet of boiled chicken and rice in the beginning, but the worst part was his absolute phobia of my father. The first time he saw my dad enter the door, Forbes raced to the corner where he would shake and drool. With time and patience they would become best of friends.
Before we even knew it, days turned to weeks, weeks to months and finally with Forbes in the family for three years (and our other dog, lab mix from the shelter, for five years), I became pregnant.
We were so excited and yet worried about how our dogs would take it. We did all the things that were suggested by our obedience trainer and vet - carrying a baby doll around the house to judge jealousy, play a recorded sound clip of a baby crying to get them used to the sound and bringing home a blanket from the hospital with our baby's scent on it for our boys to smell but nothing could ever, ever prepare us for what lay ahead.
From the time I was pregnant forward, I felt like I was carrying twins- my human baby still in the womb, and the Great Dane baby who plastered himself to me every moment of the day. When I would lie on the couch, Forbes would lay on the ground right next to me. When I went to the bathroom, Forbes would stare at me eyeball to eyeball until I was finished. When I would sit to read or watch TV, Forbes would come, lie beside me and gently put his head on my ever expanding stomach- an instant fluffed pillow for him.
By the time our son came home from the hospital I felt like Forbes already knew him- after all, he had also endured several months of kicking and karate chops so his pillow was more like a vibrating bed. The bond the two of them formed was immediate.
As a baby, when our son would cry, Forbes would sit quietly by his crib until his Father or I came to soothe our son. When people came to visit, Forbes would stand or lay between the family member holding our son and the visitors to let others know they were not going to touch this child unless his parents told him it was OK. When we went for a walk, Forbes was always the one closest to the stroller so he could see our son at all times. My husband and I soon began calling him the doting father.
As our human son began to grow, the bond he has shared with his Dane grew deeper. The first journey our son made when he began to crawl was into the dog bed with Forbes. Forbes watched him come closer and instead of moving away as we expected, he parted his legs to make more room for our son to curl into. That became the place of choice for our son to watch TV from over the next few months and years.
When walking began, who better to hold onto than a dog bigger than you? Even when our son would accidentally pull an ear or whisker as he fell down, Forbes never even gave a whimper. Instead he would look at the opportunity to give our son a kiss when no one was supposed to be looking.
Now our human son is three and a half. If given the opportunity he will tell you all about our "big dogs" and "Forbes, his favorite dog in the whole wide world". The two appear as Siamese twins on a regular basis- no one knowing where one stops and the other begins with arms wrapped around necks and noses nuzzling hair. We often hear our son whisper "I love you" into Forbes' ear as they snuggle together.
Our family is now complete and will forever be changed since the day we met Pookie Kostuk the Great Dane Club of America's National Rescue Chairperson and her committee. They has given us a gift so precious, so priceless, so amazing, there is no way we could ever repay them. This organization continues to be there for us year after year when we have questions or concerns about health, treatment or any other issue that may arise. We really don't see them as an organization anymore, but rather like extended family. Day after day they continue to care for, treat and attempt to place other dogs like Forbes- and for that we are forever thankful because as I've said before, thanks to them, we have the perfect dog.
We are proud supporters of the GDCA Charitable Trust for Rescue so they may continue their wonderful work.
Forbes and Family.