I finally took the leap and am now immersed in schoolwork, studying canine behavior. Most folks know that we have Great Danes. They are our wonderful, loving, 4-legged offspring. Our first two arrived from their breeders with good health and we promptly took them to obedience school and socialized where we could living in a non-dog friendly community.
Our good fortune ended when we brought Jinkies home from the breeder. She was different. Something always seemed to hurt, she would limp and then get better. Everything we fed her went straight thru. Our vet finally referred us to an ortho vet, Dr Huber, who saved her leg and her life. She had folding fractures in her front legs and a broken growth plate in her back leg causing both legs to start to twist. He performed a radical surgery on her, having to use fat from her abdomen to replace where the bone section was taken out. Then she went on a special diet to try and make up for the lack of nutrition (probably early weaning) in her first weeks.
At 12 weeks she was in rehab and recovery. She had to be carried to and from the outside (if you know the breed you know that by 4 months she weighed 60 pounds…not easy to carry). She could not interact with other dogs, even ours, due to the risk of causing a catastrophic injury. Her entire life when not outside on a 4’ leash or at the vet’s was in a 10 x 10 room.
All this isolation created a dog who was extremely fearful and a resource guarder. By the time she received the all clear for us to integrate her into our pack she was a nightmare. She would attack the other dogs over dinner, treats or toys . Anything was fair game. She was terrified of brooms, vacuums, hats, dusters….you name it.
Thru a lot of research, the leadership of a great training mentor and a lot of prayer Jinkies has blossomed into a loving, well socialized dog. She still reacts fearfully in many circumstances but you would never know what she had to come thru in order to get to where she is now. And it led me into obedience training, even getting my AKC CGC Evaluator certification.
The next dane we brought home was from a rescue. He was 6 months old and had been crated 24/7. As loving as he was and as sad as he was, he had a lot of issues that we had to work thru. He had developed a crate mentality that would let him urinate or defecate right where he slept. We were told by the vet this behavior probably would not change. If we were out of his sight he destroyed anything and everything he could until we arrived home. Many times this caused injury to him. That was what made the decision for us to put him on an anti-anxiety medicine while we trained as well. After a 3 month regimen he was able to wean off. He still has some sep anxiety but he can crate himself without losing his mind, he is no longer fearful of older women, he has learned to calm himself down rather than spinning out of control.
After dealing with these two danes that needed so much more than most families would have had the time or resources to deal with, I wanted to get into the behavior end of training. To me this is very important when dealing with rescues and abused dogs that need special help, beyond just the sits and stays.
So busy I am. I’ve started my studies. I will be immersing myself in the world of canine behavior. I’ll be doing an externship with a local shelter and then an internship with a local behavior trainer. I am blessed to have these resources for learning how to help the critters that steal my heart and the humans who take on the commitment of repairing these damaged souls.