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.
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.