I remember the first time I saw a Great Dane. I was at a friend of a friend's home, sitting on the sunporch.
Through the door, came lumbering, and I do mean lumbering, this huge, beautiful animal. I don't really recall the
coloring nor his name. I was awestruck! I just remember that he was an animal to behold, even though he was quite
intimidating. Then he walked over to me. I was sitting and he came over and looked me in the eyes. I had no idea
what would come next, but he nudged me, then began to cuddle. I was in love. What a dog! I remember a delivery
truck pulled up in the driveway and the Dane took off. The two men actually crawled up on the top of the truck in
fear of him! They were terrified! I can picture it now - the dog was standing against the truck (and he stook about
half-way up) with this mischievous grin and barked at them. All he had wanted to do was play. I remember feeling how
lucky the owners were to have a companion so awesome.
I couldn't stop thinking about Great Danes. To have an animal like this, I knew I needed a large home with a lot of
land or at least a large yard. But preferably, wide open spaces. At that time in my life, it just wasn't possible,
but I could dream, couldn't I? I'm not going to say the dream died, it just got put on a back burner. I had other dogs,
none as awesome. In the meantime, we bought some acreage in Maine and moved, built our home, had more kids, etc.
In 1997, I was at a very low point. We had previously bought a Chesapeake Bay Retriever who I had to put down due to
problems with his temperament. I was heart-broken. Mother's Day was coming up and my husband started teasing me about
how much I was going to love my present. From his clues, I guessed that it was a dog. I didn't think I was ready for
another dog. It seemed that my luck with dogs was very, very bad. The weekend before Mother's Day, we had taken the
kids to the circus and afterwards, Terry suggested we "go for a ride". No clues were given as to where we were riding
to. A couple of hours later, we pulled up in front of a small house, I don't remember much else about the house, but the
sign caught my eye…"AKC Registered Great Danes"! Still thinking I wasn't ready for another dog, all I could say was
"do you know how big they get?"
On that day, "Hallie" became the newest member of our family. Hallie was, at that time, a 4-month old Fawn Great Dane. She'd won me over by simply sitting in front of me while her brothers jumped around. A beautiful girl. After we brought her home, she caught on to things so quickly. She was and still is so sensitive, all it takes it to speak to her (normally) if she's out of line.
In the winter of 1999, Hallie became very ill, we almost lost her. After having to stay at the vet's for a weekend on an
IV, she was diagnosed with Addison's Disease. Addison's Disease is a disease of the adrenal gland where the body has a
problem producing enough cortisol to sufficiently break down the food into nutrients that the body can use properly. The
vet explained to us that it would be a very expensive process to keep her alive - she'd need a monthly injection and meds
each day. Terry and I talked about it and he had only one answer - "She's a member of our family and we'll do whatever
we have to do to help her." I was so grateful to him for saying that - those were my feelings exactly, I just needed to
hear them from him.
Hallie's still with us today. The Addison's has aged her a bit. She looks much older than her years. And she's not too playful - she'll come and play with me for a few minutes, but then that's enough for her - she's tired. And that's okay. I've enjoyed the time with her. She has become more protective. I remember when our youngest daughter, Adrianna, was still crawling, she'd crawl under Hallie and Hallie would just stand very quietly as if protecting her. To this day, Adrianna can do things to Hallie that Hallie won't tolerate with anyone else (like sitting on her).
People have told me that the fact that Great Danes' life spans are so short is the reason they don't breed them. I feel now and the feeling I've had ever since Hallie was diagnosed is that however short (or long) her life is, she has taught me wonderful things, she has made the years that we've had her that much more wonderful.