Monday, December 3, 2007

Best dogs EVER

Heather's comment on the "best month ever" post inspired me to wax poetic about my other babies for a change. Daisy and Saffron are (apologies to other dog-owners) the greatest dogs in the world. They're both Great Danes. We got Daisy from the pound in October of 2001, when she was 3. Saffron came six months later, at the age of 2.5, from Rocky Mountain Great Dane Rescue.

All About Daisy

Soon after buying my first house (Greg and I were dating at the time, but not living together), my thoughts turned toward getting a dog. Truth be told, I was signing the offer papers and all I could think about was the dog that would someday romp in the backyard. I thought I'd wait a few months at least to get settled, but, well, that didn't happen. Advice for anyone hoping to wait a few months before getting a dog: Stay off the local pound's web site.

I was at work one day, browsing the dogs listed on the Denver Dumb Friends League web site, as I had been doing every day since moving into the new house. I was set on a giant breed, having had and adored a mastiff in the past, but they rarely become available at animal shelters. When I saw Daisy's (then named Baby) photo, I had to catch my breath. She was absolutely breathtaking, and she looked so scared and confused against the stark white cinderblock walls of the kennel. She had a funny pink bow around her neck (Daisy is not a bow girl). It was almost lunch time, and I worked close to the DDFL, so I drove over as quickly as I could.

As I was getting in line to ask to meet Baby, another couple walked up and I let them go ahead of me. When they got to the front of the line and asked to meet her, my heart sank. It sank even further when I heard the woman of the couple talking about how much she hated big dogs, and how if the man brought her home, she'd never be in the same room as it. And it hit the bottom as I heard the man talk about how tough he'd look with a 130-pound dog, and how no one would even think about breaking into their house. How could these people care for the fragile looking girl I saw in the picture?

Unfortunately, it's a first-come, first-served scenario at DDFL, so I just had to wait half an hour until the couple finished visiting to see whether they decided to adopt Baby. Luckily for me (and, dare I say, for Daisy), they decided to think about it for a day. I met with her in a cold and sterile room, and Daisy was terrified. At first she wouldn't come near me, but then I pulled out some treats—still the way to her heart. We spent about 10 minutes together, and I decided that even though I had had no intentions of getting a dog that day, she was going home with me. Of course, I still had to go back to work, but I filled out all the paperwork and the people at the DDFL agreed to keep her until the end of the day.

I still remember the feeling of walking out of that place with a strange dog who came close to equaling my weight, and coaxing her into my little VW Jetta. We got home, and Greg came over to meet her. For the first few weeks, though, she had a trauma bond only with me, and she'd (literally) try to hide behind me whenever another person came around. It was pretty comical—the elephant hiding behind the tree. With time, though, she came out of her shell around others and is now the most outgoing cuddle-hog you'll ever meet.

Through the years she'd had some issues, ranging from dog-aggression to a butt-tumor that required her to wear adult-sized diapers with a tail cut-out, but none of it has made us love her any less intensely. She's such a loving and funny dog who is made all the more charming by her pushiness and sense of entitlement.

Salute to Saffron

After adopting Daisy, we became involved in the Great Dane rescue. At first we thought we would need to remain a one-dog household, because Daisy displayed some aggression toward other dogs. But after one failed fostering attempt (Wesley), we fostered a sweet and submissive female dog named Samantha. She and Daisy got along famously, and suddenly the door opened for us to add another dog to the family (of course, we didn't really realize that until Samantha had found another home and I was devastated).

I was at a rescue event at another volunteer's house, and she was fostering Saffron. I still remember the intense eye-contact she made when we first met, and I felt an incredibly strong connection to her. I went home and worked on convincing Greg that we should get another dog—not the easiest task, since Greg feels I'm a little too eager to acquire new dependents. But that weekend, Saffron's foster mom brought her over for a visit, and the rest is history.

Saffron is really and truly the most kind-hearted creature you'll ever meet. In the almost-six years we've had her, I don't think I've ever seen her tail stop wagging. She's 8 years old now—ancient for a Great Dane—and she still acts like a puppy (when she's awake, anyway. Saffy sleeps somewhere near 23 hours a day). She's very sensitive and delicate, but unbelievably loving and affectionate. She can absolutely melt you with her eyes, especially combined with her full-body wag.

Saffron too has had some health issues, most notably the bloat that almost killed her a few years ago. It's just part of having a giant breed, though: They're expensive to care for, they scare you to death with their medical emergencies, but they touch your soul in a way that no other dog can. They're almost like humans, but without all the baggage.


Kellie said...

Thanks for the story. I love the big dogs too - and big rescue dogs are the best of all.

About "Best Dogs EVER" - that reminds me of a story about my husband, J and our "special needs" dog Dexter. Dex has a lot of problems but has always been a very sweet, special boy and has made a ton of progress. One day Jeremiah was looking at a piece of mail we got and exclaimed out loud, reading, "License for Dog of the Year?!?!" - he must have been thinking I entered Dexter in some sort of contest, because he was very excited. I said, "No, honey, it says 'license for dog FOR the year'". It was the letter that came with Dex's dog license from the county.

Poor J had thought that our troubled Dex's many achievements were finally being recognized. We still refer to him as "Dog of the Year" every once in a while though :)

Heather & Adam said...

This is so great! I have had Great Danes in the back of my mind since I met a fellow business owner's dog. She is so sweet and gentle and goes to work with him every day. We definately have the space now. Okay, I am going to start working on the hubby ASAP. hehe...
Oh, and Kellie's story made me laugh out loud.
Thanks for posting this, D!

maia said...

I'm an obsessive troller of humane society websites. We occasionally foster dogs for Maxfund. I cannot even tell you how many times a week I come close to adding to our dog collection. Mike tries to keep me in line. I vividly remember the day I saw my Sam at the pound - he had only been "doing time" for two hours, but he looked so depressed that I wanted to cry (he's an emotionally fragile little thing). He was not at all what I was looking for in a dog, but I could not leave that pound without him. He came straight home with me and straight into my bed, and has never left.

Mrs. Baker said...

This is way to crazy....

So I just stumbled upon your blog and have been reading it it.

I stumble upon this post and it is so funny because I did not read this before I wrote this post...

We may be soulmates! :P