Taj, 13 wks “Too tired”
A very good question came to me by way of the comment box (yes, I read them all, even if I don’t get time to answer right away): namely, how will I manage walking Kenai 30 minutes a day with my current poor health? For the sake of others wondering how they can exercise their Danes despite personal physical limitations, I’ve decided to post my answer.
I’ve thought about this for some time now, and it was a serious consideration when I chose to start looking for a Dane puppy last summer. The thing about the walk is that it has 2 essential parts: exercise and establishing leadership. Since I can’t walk 30 minutes right now, even on good days, I’m going to have to be creative about still getting Kenai the benefits of longer and more frequent walks.
The pain of fibro I can deal with better than the constant exhaustion of the CFIDS–that’s what worries me most about Kenai’s exercise. I may have periods when I’m feeling positively frisky, but when I’m down, I’m really down. Game over kind of down.
Still, Kenai and I have to go places, so there will be the required “walking politely in public” practice. But not for extended periods, or every day even. I’m hoping to get in at least 3 days a week of public work, once we’ve gotten through the perilous 12 week shots. And I’m taking him to a puppy class to continue the socialization, so his little brain will have lots of stimulation and fun there. I do alot of purposeful play at night too, sitting on the couch. He won’t know it’s training!
Fortunately Kenai is a very calm natured pup, not really as big a rumpus as his littermates, though he is of course still a puppy. That quietness was one of the reasons he was chosen. So my best laid plan for tired mice like myself with energetic little men is:
(1) to have Kenai leashed to my body as I move around the house. That still establishes my leadership in his mind like the walk, because he’s following where I go and when I go. That’s something many pro trainers suggest anyway for SDit pups so they learn to be always beside you and attentive.
(2) For his heavier exercise, once he’s got the idea of retrieving I’ll be using a toy outside that he chases down and brings back to me. He’ll get to run off some of the wilder puppy energy that way. And we will have his brother too, though I don’t know yet how vigorous BB will be.
(3) a treadmill walk on days that he’s too full of himself, or I just am not good for anything at all! (That happens too, though doctors don’t seem to quite get the idea). During the summer, there is always the pool, if I can figure a way to get them in and out safely.
NOTE: I am always cautious about too much walking and running with Dane puppies, because their joints and bones are fairly easy to injure, particularly before 8-10 months. So the treadmill will be at a quick walk setting rather than a jog, and Kenai can stay on for no more than 20-30 minutes while I sit in a chair beside him. The treadmill is going to be my second best friend, I think!
Dane puppies are typically tough little buggers and they don’t show their pain until they’re badly hurt. Taj with his HOD would still try to play, bone fractures or not. So if I see any signs of tenderness in the two boys’ legs, I’ll cut the treadmill time back and/or split the sessions into 2 or three short walks. I mess with their legs and feet alot anyway so they are less inclined to be fussy at the vet, and that is also how I know if the legs are sore: they will pull away the leg and/or lick at my hands.
Exercise can’t be neglected, or every kind of frustration and misbehavior crops up. But as long they are getting enough exercise, who really cares how they get it? I’m a “whatever works” kind of girl, having lost the “ideologue” tendency when my health declined. Took awhile, and lots of “why did I over do it?” days, but flexibility did finally win!
A quote on a church sign: “Blessed are the flexible, for they shall not be bent out of shape.”
Posted by greatdaneservicedog on February 29, 2008
BB baby brother Kenai the tank
So with 8 days until we leave for South TX, we have added to our new head count–2 puppies! Kenai is selected by the breeder and her trainer, and cropped as of two days ago. I will have the big guy I’ve secretly been eyeing for several weeks. He is calm natured, watching rather than instigating, which is a good sign. He is a supremely confident little fellow, and I cannot wait to meet him.
On the other hand…there is BB, the littlest of the litter. He is a prankster, and destined to become Mom’s brat. The poor baby was 3 wks old when his two hernias became so huge as to be life threatening. He quit breathing repeatedly during the surgery, and very nearly died. He walks funny, and you can see how much smaller he is than his brother. Both pics were taken at 6 weeks. But funny walk or not, his eyes stole Mom’s heart, and she almost cried when my trainer strongly discouraged us from bringing him home too, for the sake of Kenai’s training.
The trainer’s reasons are sound, and she knows her business. But I know my Mom, and I am sorely pressed to cause her sorrow. She would have given him up, and grieved the loss. Not a chance! My Mom is a remarkable woman and if two pups makes twice the thought, so be it. She has accepted that I will not be able to train and socialize two pups, so all of BB’s care is up to her. They will be crated seperately, spend their days apart, go to the vet at different times, and train individually. Kenai must be with me wherever I go to facilitate the strongest possible bond. So my days of taking baths alone are over!
But the four of us will still spend our evenings together, lounging on the couch (Kenai on my side, BB on Mom’s), and just being a happy pack. There will be a couple of hours on MWF when I will be watching them both while Mom is at PT, and I will feed them at the same times, but that’s okay. I won’t leave BB crated while I am in the house; that isn’t kind and could make him feel unwanted. If I must, I can use that time to take Kenai to the park or something. But I won’t ignore him while giving attention to Kenai.
I am putting great faith in the intelligence of Great Danes to understand that they have different purposes, not different worth. I will adore BB as well, but Kenai is my go to guy. And the use of a vest is a visual reminder to them, as well as people. So puppy love wins out, and I won’t regret it. I might come to a point where I complain or have to work harder, but no regrets.
You might notice I have added a page today, specifically about Danes that jump on people. Before you jump there, be sure you have read and implemented the “puppy basics” and “puppy troubles” pages. The corrections and principles in them are consecutive, and if puppy basics doesn’t give you the ability to stop the unwanted excitement, move on to puppy troubles. “My Dane Jumps on People” has the last resort actions, and most dogs don’t need the forcefulness of that page.
Housebreaking, charging the door, excessive barking, and other specific problems are coming–patience!
Our pre-puppy vet visit went very well. I know what schedule and type of vaccines the boys will have, the vet knows which medicines I want to avoid because they cause problems in Danes, and he doesn’t mind a bit that when the boys come out of their neutering surgery at 12-18 months they will go on their own beds with us beside them as they wake up. Yes, some of it is a mommy complex, but an SD dog is never seperated from his handler more than is absolutely necessary. He’s there when I don’t feel good, and I’m there when he doesn’t feel good.
Now my only concerns are the little things, like how my daily schedule will change. Normally I’m up around 4-5am, and do my school and computer work. Obviously, getting Kenai out to relieve himself and have some morning play is going to interrupt that. And since Mom is dead until 7-8, I have to get BB out too. Logistics will just have to work itself out once they’re home. It’ll be good to feel puppy nuzzles again.
Posted by greatdaneservicedog on February 27, 2008
These are the eyes of a Great Dane: loving, gentle, and contempletive.
In July of 2007, I began my search for a Great Dane pup. I had been without a boy for almost two years, and the emptiness of the house was getting bigger. There was only one cure, I knew, and yet I was hesitant: I had been so ill for years. And my Danes, mostly rescues, had been just as sickly for the past 15 years. While struggling with my own Fibromyalgia/Chronic Fatigue, I had nursed my boys through Cushings disease, bloat, dysplaysia, parvo, allergies, arthritis, frequent vomiting, and hypertrophic osteodystrophy. We certainly kept the vets from getting too bored, or too broke.
A new Dane puppy conjures images of innocence and fun. They are hysterically clumsy as puppies, tripping over their own huge feet, and doing spread eagles across the floor after pouncing on a toy. The poor dears wake up in a new body after every nap, growing at astonishing rates. That can make getting the front end and the back end going in the same direction a tricky proposition!
In 12 days I leave for Texas, to bring home my new Dane pup, Kenai. He too will be clumsy, and he too will have those eyes. He will see my physical weakness and loan me his strength. Kenai will become my door to life, and do it without hesitation. And he will make me laugh, amazed at his lack of self-consiousness when he gets himself into outlandish postures and follies.
Yet for all the fun puppies are, they require considerable effort. I still feel a lingering guilt that I had not been able to give my other boys as much outside run-time as they might have needed. Not to mention the sinking in my stomach remembering how irritable I had been when their ailments woke me up at night. The less I sleep, the worse I feel, which is how it goes with fibro.
The wonder of dogs is that they don’t complain. I am cross and unpleasant when I feel bad, but not dogs. It seems as though the idea of whining “why me?” never occurs to them. My boys had shown me how to be gracious under strain, and they had shown me how self-absorbed I hadn’t known I was.
Being a Christian, I value grace. The ideals of gentleness and a loving nature are what we Christians strive for. We seek to add wisdom to our repertoire of daily living, as it gives us patience with the inevitable irritations that come being alive. Forgiving and being forgiven is a powerful attitude, and the entire point of the cross. But it is usually the most elusive lesson in our lives, because it is so ridiculously unnatural, at least as far as human nature is concerned. So rarely is deep forgiveness available for us to see and hear, most of us cannot even conceive of it, let alone replicate it.
I believe that is why God gave us dogs; so we can see and experience God’s immeasurable love on a more digestible scale. Dogs are everything we are supposed to be and often are not. They love without regard to the superficial, they forgive instantly, they know who can or cannot be trusted, and they cannot bear to live without a pack. The size and shape of a pack member makes no difference to them, because their packs are held together, not by being the same, but by being loved.
Not all dogs are like that, you say. That is true. But I believe that nearly all antisocial, fearful, or aggressive behaviors in dogs can be traced back to humans. Sometimes we damage what is perfect because we cannot stand to recognize that we are not. Sometimes we are so damaged, we hardly know how deep the deformity goes. Yet dogs forgive it. They heal it too.
Posted by greatdaneservicedog on February 23, 2008
Yet another ice storm has stranded me in the house. It woke me up at 5 am during an episode of thunder sleet. “Thunder Sleet”…Sound like a b-grade rock band to you? I’m tired of winter, but spring also has its pitfalls: mud, tornados, flash floods. So I’m going to indulge in a small whine…enough already!
Well it seems that I am leaving for TX to pick up my new little Dane March 6th. That is just 2 weeks away, and so my preparations have kicked into high gear. I have alot of “small things” to do, that I was taking my time with since I thought I had the time to dawdle. Things like making an appointment with Kenai’s vet for deciding on a vaccination schedule, cleaning the crate, rearranging my bedroom to fit in the crate…I like to have everything done BEFORE I bring a puppy into his new home. He just fits right into the daily routine, and the transition is easier for him.
I’ve been noticing search engine hits on my blog for puppy problem topics like “great dane jumping on me”. Hopefully the searchers took the time to read the pages I have. I’ll admit, I haven’t addressed too many “puppy problem” topics, mostly because I believe creating a stable pack from day one prevents a lot of issues. Yet, puppies are puppies, and they will get troublesome from time to time. So there will be new pages and edited old pages to look at.
As for the “great dane jumping”, I’m going to start a “puppy troubles” page right away, because that is just dangerous. Danes are far to large to get away with jumping and such, and the time to break it is the moment you meet your new Dane. It is a bit longer of a process for older dogs and rescues, but it certainly can be done. Lord knows I’ve done it a time or two. So if you are looking for help, check out the “puppy basics” page first, and the “puppy troubles” page I’ll be posting today.
Someone asked me why I have so much information rather than using this as a journal format. The answer is because I want this site to be a place with answers, links to answers, and a “rest stop” to really think about your life with a Dane. I do have what I call my “daily bitch blog”, where I post my momentary thoughts and feelings. But this site is for contemplation and a more thorough understanding of what’s going on with Danes. Here I can compile information and you don’t have to go scanning through piles of posts to find what you need.
Please do leave comments–I want to hear from you. Agreement, disagreement, stories, and questions are all welcome. So tell me what you know and think. 14 days to go!
Posted by greatdaneservicedog on February 21, 2008
Too many storm systems! One right after another. Here, at least, no tornados, just flash flooding. Just flooding…Ya’ know it’s been a bad winter when flooding seems to be the least of miseries. My Kenai is still with his momma, south of Houston, and they have all kinds of watches and warnings. I think he’s already made a place for himself in my heart, if I’m worrying about him being scared of the storms. Amazing how dogs can do that, before you even meet them.
If you haven’t looked in the pages recently, you’ll find lots of new info. I’ve spent some time researching veterinary sites for the latest and best information, and trying to put it in plain English. The more I read, the more taken back I am by how fragile our big strong Danes are; how very little it takes to cause them a lifetime of suffering. Or worse yet, to cost them their lives.
Wading through the diseases and afflictions Danes can have has put me in a contempletive mood. For all they do for us, and do without hesitation, have we humans returned the proper measure of effort? I mean, we have created this marvelous breed. But have we done everything we can to breed out dysplastic hips, or gone to the trouble of creating foods that are pure and balanced to keep them from HOD? And have we collectively done all we can to prevent the unaware or indifferent Dane breeders from keeping these illnesses in the gene pool?
With all the hopes and expectations I have for Kenai as my service dog, I find myself feeling a powerful sense that I owe him. There isn’t much I haven’t or wouldn’t do for my boys, but that emotion is far stronger this time. After all, I will owe him for getting me down the stairs without falling. I will owe him for the relief his body warmth will give me, leaning against my sore muscles. And I will owe him for the sense of fun and joy of life he will inspire.
I have made a perennial nuuuudge out of myself, emailing and hovering over my breeder’s blog site for news of the little tanks. Poor Teri! I’m frustratingly prone to forgetfullness and confusion when the fibromyalgia is flaring–I know the puppies will have their ears cropped the last week of this month, but for the life of me I can’t keep the number of weeks straight before I can go get my little guy. Drat and phooey on fibro!
So I’ve started a day count until Spring Break, when I KNOW Kenai will be ready and waiting. This way, I have it written down, and even I can subtract single digits if I don’t check it for a couple of days! (Like that’s gonna happen…) 46 days to go!
Posted by greatdaneservicedog on February 16, 2008
Yesterday’s sleet and freezing rain totaled over an inch at my house. Lots of places had 2 inches or more…it is beautiful to look at, but good Lord it’s dangerous. Some 10,000 people were out of power yesterday. Ours flashed and flickered, but stayed on, thank goodness. All day and night I was listening to transformers blowing, and tree branches falling. Some days ya just know Jesus loves you, even in the midst of a mess. This winter’s weather has taken a toll on my strength, and I hope this winter will be over with soon! My Chronic Fatigue and Fibromyalgia is having a raging fit…
I’ve been considering places I can take Kenai to continue the excellent socaliazation his breeder has started. Of course, his shots have to be completed before he goes anywhere. But that’s okay–it gives my little guy a couple of weeks to adjust to his new home and his new pack before having to face a big old world. And his ears will have been cropped, so they have to be healing well too before we go anywhere.
Some internet friends gave me some great ideas for pre-puppy class socialization. Living so far out in the country, there just aren’t alot of people, kids, dogs, and noise nearby. I’m going to have to make a point of taking Kenai places, so I was glad for the advice! I had planned on the usual pet stores, strip malls, and friends’ houses. But it was suggested to me to also take my little guy to police stations, firehouses, and children’s outdoor baseball and soccer games. So simple and obvious, it’s brilliant!
Cropping seems to be a bit of controversy these days. Most Europeans don’t crop, and fewer American vets will do it these days. I’ve had both cropped and natural ears, but have chosen to have Kenai cropped. Yes, there is some “vanity” issue: I just prefer the fawn color Dane with cropped ears. But I’ve also had to deal with the ear infections, crease sores, and blood blisters at the tips of uncropped ears.
Alot of people say they don’t crop because it would be painful to the dog. I’ve heard puppies yelp when their ears are being taped and untaped, so I know it can be painful. But I’ve chosen a very good vet, and also I use the “shriner’s cap”. Done properly, none of the adhesive side of the tape is touching the ears, so no hair gets pulled out, and no sore suture lines are touched. None of my cropped pups have cried when this vet changes their tape. So I’m comfortable that the crop isn’t more uncomfortable than a spay/neuter surgery or dew claw removal.
With all this ice, I have no idea how I’m going to get to school tommorrow, exams or not. I just can’t get out! I don’t think I could even walk the 1/4 mile to the highway…I hope our weather here in SW Missouri improves soon, and if you are getting hit hard where you live, may we all have better weather!
Posted by greatdaneservicedog on February 12, 2008
These are some of the 5 week old pups, pics courtesy of their breeder! Thanks Teri!
Since I haven’t been feeling too frisky this week, I’ve spent some time surfing through websites of professional dog trainers. I’ve read alot of blogs and watched as many videos as my patience with dial-up would allow. And I remember my experiences training my past loves and rescues. I have in mind the sort of person and style I’m looking for to help me with the more specialized task training Kenai will have to learn.
Puppy classes especially, seem to have an affliction: excitement based training. I have never liked the idea of using a high pitched voice and exhuberant petting as a reward. Mostly because I don’t want an excitable puppy, and certainly not an excitable service dog. Dogs know what we are feeling, even when tiny. They know when we are pleased with them and proud of what they’ve done. That is the reward for them, more than any treat or toy.
Puppies are naturally joyful creatures, and will happily repeat actions that bring us joy, just because we want them to. I’ve always preferred touching them as a reward, letting them smell and feel how satisfied I am with their good behaviors. I’ve never had a Dane of mine to ignore me in favor of a treat or toy. We have always admired the dog because he is interested in us, right?
There is a tendency with excitement based training for the pup or dog not learning to listen to you. They don’t have to listen and pay attention when you are quiet, because you are usually loud when you want them to do something. That may be fine for agility and obedience trials, but honestly, how many people want to be yelling or squeaking throughout their day with a companion? Most people, I think, want a quiet dog and a quiet home. I know I do. So if Kenai is just too wound up to pay attention, it’s time for a good hard romp outside before resuming the training session.
Another concern of mine about puppy class is the sheer volume of treats that are often used. Great Danes have delicate nutritional needs, which can be thrown off by too many treats. I’ve considered using Kenai’s kibble, subtracting it from his bowl. I’m hoping a bit of kibble interspersed with loving touches and chin rubs will be all I really need. I can’t really use “human food” like hot dogs or bacon bits. If Kenai drools and mooches in public, he won’t pass his access tests, so why start something I’ll have to fix later?
SOAPBOX MOMENT: Treats are all about approach. Are we rewarding the good behavior as their pack leader or teaching them to get what they want from us by doing tricks? Too many treats when a dog or pup doesn’t really respect you won’t work in the long run, because it isn’t teaching, it’s bribing. Dogs can and not uncommonly do perfect sit stay’s and still tear up the couch! Maybe that could be because owners approach them with cajoling and begging, rather than expecting and rewarding.
DIRE WARNING: One of the blogs I came across was a professional service dog trainer, with an SD dog her own. The more I read, the less I liked her. She was hard, opinionated, driven and liked to rant. There was no hint of pleasure, not a shred of laughter (she said herself she had lost her sense of humor), and when presented with her own dog not reliably paying attention to her, she whacked the dog on the head with her cane. This person has lost all sense of wonder at the fact that an entirely different species has decided to serve us. Perhaps it hasn’t occured to her that the dog isn’t paying attention because she doesn’t like being treated harshly and without love!
So look for a trainer who is still amazed that a dog will work for us, is encouraging when the training isn’t going “perfect”, and doesn’t expect you to be excitable and loud. I’m pretty sure there is a calm and confident soul out there who can wander the path of SD training with you and your new love…
Posted by greatdaneservicedog on February 10, 2008
This is a first!! A paper and pencil kind of girl leaving the stone age! Well, here goes nothing…After raising and being raised with Great Danes for 36 years, I was fairly comfortable in my relationship with the breed. I have rescued Danes for the better part of 2 decades, but now it seems I need a Dane to rescue me. I’ve had symptoms of fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue most of my life, and the past few years the problems have become debilitating.
Last July, I couldn’t stand the empty house anymore, and started looking for a HEALTHY big boy to love again. And remembering Shabah, I knew my Dane would want to and could help me when I needed him. I sort of stumbled into the idea of a Great Dane for a service dog. But once the idea hit, it took off.
Some people discouraged me, saying Danes are short lived, prone to illness, and too big. Yeah, yeah…I’ve lived with Danes that had parvo, HOD, dysplaysia, bloat, Wobblers, arthritis, and Cushing’s disease. The genetic state of Danes these days is fairly dismal. But Danes are sensitive, loving, human oriented, and frighteningly smart as a breed. And they are BIG! Big enough to lean on without having to stoop, strong enough to pull me up steep inclines, and sturdy enough to haul around my college textbooks. And those big heads have big brains. One study found that Great Danes have the problem solving ability of a 7 year old human. I believe it, and then some, because I’ve seen it!
So the trick is finding a HEALTHY dane. American danes are getting smaller and finer, and sicker seems to be coming with it. I remember just 20 years ago, the average male was 180 pounds. Now you can find breeders bragging if their male is a flimsy 150 pounds. And to look at them, you can hardly tell the difference between a dog and a bitch. Not what I need. So I started looking towards Europe–they are substantially bigger, muscular, and longer lived. And even the bitches look like they could knock down a brick wall!
After much surfing, I found a kennel in Texas that breeds from imported Italian Danes. If the breeder gives permission, I’ll put her site link up. January 1st, the first litter came, and Jan 14th the second litter came. I’ve got 21 puppies to chose from! Come the end of March, I’ll have my little boy!
Check out the categories, but be patient, because I’ve just started figuring this blog business out!
Posted by greatdaneservicedog on February 7, 2008