A view from an old dog.

When I was working  at the Animal Rescue League, a man brought a 6 & ½ year old female Great Dane into the building and was standing there waiting for help.  I asked him if he was coming to the clinic that was going to be starting soon and he said “no”.   He stated that he was surrendering his dog to the rescue.  He had bred her for several years and now needed to get rid of her and her puppies.  

 He signed the paperwork and I had him put something about her on paper to help people who were looking at her to get adopted.  He wrote “she was a good dog and always tried to not lie on her puppies.”  That was it.  

 The odds of her getting adopted were slim.  She was a deemed an older dog.  We all know how people turn their backs on older dogs and go for the puppies. We all know how people  say “I want a dog to be around for several years”.  Or the famous “I just can not go through the pain of losing another dog”.  One has to consider whether it is better to bear the loss or  it is better to just KILL THE DOG. 

Mona the Great Dane

 Well, Mona weighed 88 pounds, female Great Danes are supposing to weight in at around 120 to 130 pounds. I brought her cooked liver every day and noticed that no matter how skinny she was, she would not come to the gate to get fed until I left.  She was protecting her puppies that were crawling all over her.  In my eyes, she would  rather starve than leave her puppies unprotected to eat for herself.  The day came when we had to take the puppies away from her; it was not a good day.  She paced back and forth, crying out often.  She did not eat for several days.  It was awful to see this.  

 I knew from the moment he came through the door and handed me her leash and turned and walked away, when I had to hold her back from leaving with him, I knew from that moment that I had to tell her “no sweetie we need to go to the back room,”  I knew from the moment that I brought her in the back room, where I had to leash her to a cage (where she could not lay down next to her pups),  I knew from the moment I laid eyes on her that she would be my dog.  

 I had always wanted a Great Dane.  I thought I could never get one and now someone was just turning their back on her.  She had given him almost 7 yrs of her life to them.  This article is not to condemn the people who have to surrender their elderly dogs. I am in no way putting them down.  Believe me I hear the many reasons for surrender everyday.  It is often because of illness, money, time, loss of housing, etc.  

 This article is to make you realize that older dogs have so much to give us.  I tell everyone that if I would have not gotten Mona I would not be doing this rescue today.   Often, people call up and want a puppy, they go to breeders for puppies, and they love puppies.  Puppies get sick just like older ones.  Older dogs are more laid back, housebroken, much nicer dogs and you know their temperament when you get them. 

 You get a dog because you love the animal, not the age.  Yes, it is true they may live longer but what are you looking for?  An age or a dog?  The puppy may be a terrible fit for you and the older dog may be a great fit for you but you choose the puppies because you want it longer.  Does that make any sense? 

 Mona, was a 6 &1/2 yr old Great Dane.  I lost her due to bone cancer at 11 & ½ yrs old.  I loved her with all my being.  Someone gave her away and did not realize what joy they had given me.  I didn’t save her; she saved me and made me a better person.  When she had passed away I went to a rescue to get a new Great Dane. That was my sole intention, just to get a new dog.  It didn’t matter how old, didn’t matter the color, didn’t matter what conditions the dog came with.  I wanted that feeling once again that Mona gave me.  I didn’t consider the age, I didn’t ponder the color.  I WANTED A DOG.  That was what was important to me.  I wanted to have that love in my life that Mona gave to me hundreds of times before she was gone.  

 I tell people that if you have the love from an animal even for a day,  that is the best day of your life.  You can’t ask for anything more. Mona had no idea what she did for this world.  She was just being herself.  In her brief life, she had puppies, brought joy to a family, loved me and pizza more than anything in this world, and she caused me to start this rescue and save hundreds of Great Danes and other breeds.  She had no idea, but I do.  

 We need to rethink things for rescue dogs.  They are just as important, just as loving and more in need. The older dogs are so much more wonderful than you think and I need to get you to rethink the whole” I want a puppy because they live longer” idea.  

 You are cheating yourself if you turn your back on older dogs just because they are older.  I could not imagine my life without knowing Mona.  She was just everything to me but I don’t have her anymore.   I have the wonderful memories of her, I have the rescue I started because of her, I have the self-esteem that she developed in me and I have the love I felt from her.  

 If you can’t look at a dog without seeing the age than maybe you don’t deserve the dog.  And you don’t deserve the feeling of love you will get for the dog.   

Look at the dog, not the age.    

Jean Matvey, PA Great Dane Rescue

Mona Mona



19 thoughts on “A view from an old dog.

  1. Dear Jean,

    My heart goes out to you and your loss of Mona. She sounds like a wonderful spirit. To often the most important message is lost to those unwilling to listen. An older dog can bring joy to a heavy heart and make life worth will again even if only for a short time.
    I applaude you for listing to that message and helping Mona.

    Sincerly Doris

    • My husband and I lost our Lab/dane mix last night. Max was 13 years old and was a rescue. He brought us such joy. Hard to believe he’s gone. He lived a wonderful life full of love. We really miss Max.

  2. Thanks to you, I’ve learned the truth of your story firsthand. I was definitely leaning toward adopting a younger Dane until you steered me toward a couple older guys. Now I have Arthur, and it is wonderful having a dog who is more settled. My concern with adopting an older dog was not so much him dying too soon, but what kind of health problems/costs we would encounter. Maybe all of the shelter/rescue groups could address those concerns by providing support groups and even financial assistance for older dogs with health problems.

  3. I adopted a 5 year old great dane (who is now almost 8 ) and she is the greatest gift I have ever received. As a child I dreamed of having a Dane to snuggle with, share walks with, and sneak table food to, and I’ll never forget the day I finally took my Dane home. I wonder the heartache her previous family must have felt when they surrendered her, because I truly couldn’t have asked for more in Bianca. She is so mellow, sweet, and the easiest to care for dog I have ever had. I am so blessed to have her and treasure each day we get to spend together. I sincerely thank you for doing rescue, because without rescue volunteers like you, I would not have been so blessed.

  4. Hi! I just love that story and couldn’t agree more!! I’ve rescued two wonderful danes from this rescue and could not b happier!! Their names are Ginger and Lou and they were both 5 years old when I got them. What wonderf memories I already have with my 2 Dane babies and I cannot wait for more!! If my husbAnd approves we may even be looking for another older dane baby… I think I have room for 3 now that we put up a big fence in the back yard:)) c u on the 26th at the bethal park event:)

  5. JEAN

  6. What a great story! I cannot wait until I am in the right circumstance to someday adopt a Dane, no matter what the age!

  7. I was blessed by the loved of two soul for 11 years each . Thor for 11 yrs and Freja for 11.5 yrs. Seniors are the best. As my two aged, they got better likes fine wine.

  8. Jean your story brought tears streaming down my face! We rescued a 5 yr old Male Great Dane we named Zander in 2004. Zander passed away Sept 16 2011 at the age of 12. Our hearts are broken. We had 7 wonderful years with Zander. Zander’s story: We got him from a lady in Scranton that rescued him from a man that was starving him to death. When she got him, he was only 37lbs at the age of 4. She took him in had him for a year and got his weight up to 97lbs. But, with 6 kids and a very small yard, Zander needed to be in a home where he could run. That’s where we came in. We saw her website and inquired about him. We had some stipulations because we had grandchildren that came to visit occasionally and a female Shih Tzu. Well, Zander passed the test. He came into our lives with so much love that when he left he has made a HUGE hole. When our Shih Tzu passed away at age 13, Zander and I both moped around the house till my husband said to look for another one. We found another Female Shih Tzu a week later and Zander accepted Chloe into his life like he knew her forever. They were buddies. We will be looking for another Dane, somewhere there is a Dane that needs a forever home and to fill this void we have in our lives. Thank you Jean for your story. We can’t do puppies cause older dogs fit our life better. The problem with ANY dog is, they never live long enough! We just know that our live are empty without a Dane!

  9. God bless you and the work you do. Currently I have 3 I rescued, 2 Boxers and a Shih Tzu. The little man runs the show 20 lbs up against 90lbs and 60lbs. Rescue is the way to go they need you more. Love your story, there was a dane that lived next door to me Diesel is his name. he and my female Boxer Foxy loved each other go figure that. .

  10. My foster Dane CHLOE was just adopted last night. She was my first foster out of 15 I have had after my failed foster passed one year ago. Hailey was 6 years old when I got her, and she died of cancer as well. She changed my life and I will never forget her. Chloe reminded me of her. My heart is breaking but I know she is in a wonderful forever home. I am typing through tears as I write this. I have two personal male danes at home I rescued as puppies. They ruined my home, ate everything in site, destroyed my furniture, carpets and wood trim. WOW! No one could ever prepare me for the battle I had gone through. They are now three years old and finally starting to become the little gentlemen I wanted. My point is the adult danes are seasoned. They have manners, and know what you expect of them. All they have to offer is their love. BOY do they do it! I will continue to foster these amazing creatures, as they have saved me over and over again.

  11. Thank you for all the wonderful work you do!!!! I miss Angel so much,, the short time that I had her did change my life,, we loved her so much. Thank you again

  12. I have fostered dogs a few Danes but I recently adopted a 7 year old OMG the love of my life, but he left us to soon he died right in my arms.my pharoah we miss him, and I want another I know soon but I justthanks for listen love them genital gains and they are so loyal.I live in Delaware, and i want full breed dane

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