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Duke ~ My First Love

Duke was my first foster and the one that cemented
my need to be owned by a Dane.


I had wanted a Dane for years. Thought they were such beautiful animals, but I didn't think I had enough room for one. Told myself that one day I would have one. I gave up on that dream for awhile, but I always kept it in the back of my mind. Then, several years ago, I joined a Dane forum and the bug bit me even harder then. I started seeing all of the beautiful Danes and hearing all their wonderful stories. So, I started searching the web, buying books, checking classifieds for Danes needing homes, contacting shelters and doing everything I could think of. Hubby wasn't too keen on the idea and told me we needed to wait, but I was relentless, impatient and stubborn.

I found this on Nov. 2009. "Free male to a good home. Good guard dog." I flipped! I just knew the chances of some weirdo snatching him up to be a junk yard dog were pretty good. We weren't ready for another dog, let along a giant breed one, but I went ahead and e-mailed the guy. He responded back quickly and I started asking questions: How old? (2 years). Neutered or intact? (intact). What type of food was he eating? (Cheapest at the grocery store.) The more questions I asked, the more I was determined to get him out of there. Then he sent me these two pics:


 

  

I was flabbergasted! This poor, magnificent creature looking like trash. That was it! I was getting him out of there one way or another!

I talked to my husband about him, told him we didn't have to keep him, I just wanted to "save" him. I had a friend that would take him and find a home for him (she had 2 Great Danes). So, we loaded up the Jeep and drove 2 hours to get him. He was on a 4ft chain tied to a tree, kept there 24/7. They said he had a doghouse, but we never saw one. He looked even worse in person. Every rib was showing; you could see every bone in his tail, every rib protruded, his breastbone jutted out. They even had to drill holes into his collar just so it would stay on his neck. He looked pitiful! But so full of life! Very fearful of us tho. 

When we pulled up, he was barking and lunging at the end of his chain. The guy let him off the chain and he stayed clear of us. He would go up to the guy and his kids, lean up against them and let them pet him, he even let them give him a hug when we were leaving. We had brought treats and were tossing those at him and letting him get use to us. After a bit, we got him into the Jeep (the guy said he loved car rides, said he occasionally took him to his parents property to roam) and we headed home. Stopped for a potty break about halfway and he was a completely different dog! Showed no signs of the dog we'd first seen. He was walking and sniffing and behaving himself.

That evening, my friend with the Danes came to get him. He wanted nothing to do with her. He was barking and growling and not acting happy at all. Apparently HE had decided that he wasn't going to live with her, he wanted to be with us......

Nov. 17, 2009. First day with us.

Took him to the vet the first week we had him. He weighed 125lbs, his coat was in poor condition and he had worms (probably from drinking from the stagnant decorative pond at the end of his chain).

Anyone we had come around him or any place we took him, he was growling at the people wanting to pet him. We were at a loss. This was our first major rescue and our first "problem" dog. We'd always had dogs that got along with people. So, I talked to some friends of mine that are dog trainers. They came down to visit and evaluate him. Thankfully, they said that he wasn't aggressive, just fearful. They gave us some pointers on how to acclimate him to people and we started school.

We'd go to Tractor Supply, Home Depot or Lowes. John would walk him and I'd be ahead with a jar of peanut butter and a long mixing spoon and would ask people if they'd feed him some peanut butter but not pet him, basically ignoring him. The idea was to show Duke that people meant yummies and not something to be fearful about. Over time, he began to look forward to meeting people b/c it meant yummy peanut butter was involved. He also became more confident around people and would allow them to pet him and even went up to people of his own accord and lean against them.

Fast forward 8 months later. He was walking up to people to be petted (without a peanut butter incentive). He was calm around large crowds. He was neutered and that seemed to help with some of his fearfulness. He went up to 155lbs. Remember his collar that had to have holes added to it? Well, it was moved to the last actual hole.

He's now in a wonderful home with a brother and sister, living the life he was supposed to. I'll forever miss Mr. Duke, but I'm sooo happy he found the life he deserved.


Feb. 4, 2010

He will never be put back on a chain again. He will never be left out in all kinds of weather. He will always have a soft, warm place to sleep, good food in his belly and loves, loves, loves.

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