Tuesday, November 29, 2011

The GREAT Joy of Plans Gone Wrong.....

I’m still playing that blog catch up game and I need to share some of my happiest news yet.

Now, to some, this may not be “big news” but to me, it’s HUGE…

What is so huge you ask??

Well, my newest baby!

We made a 9 hour drive the first weekend of October to bring home Jasper, a 6 month old Great Dane puppy.

Jasper at 6 months old
Great Danes are my OBSESSION (even more so than the goats if you can believe that!)….. I grew up with them, odds are good there isn’t a question about the breed I can’t answer.. My kids learned to walk while holding on to an ever patient gentle giant… These critters just tug at my heart strings.

We lost my “Heart Dog”, Brutus almost 4 years ago to cancer…. To this day I still tear up when I think about him.. He was my 3rd child & weathered some of the hardest times in my life with me.. ..There is simply too much to say about him here, but one of these days, I’ll give him his own post.

We had been on a waiting list for 6 years for a Dane puppy.. I know to many this is just weird. Why wait for a puppy when there are tons in the classifieds??

Jasper riding in the truck on the way home to Texas...
Well, I wouldn’t settle for just ANY puppy.. I refuse to support BYBer’s (backyard breeders who just pair up dogs with no thought to genetic potential) or puppy millers. I will only purchase dogs from someone who actively shows and has AKC pointed dogs. This is not a status symbol, this is my proof that breeding stock was evaluated by an outside source and found to conform to the breed standard. This isn’t just about a “pretty” dog…. Good form is followed by good function…..

Jasper's Sire
Next is the health testing.. I have rescued & fostered many poorly bred Great Danes over the years. I have dealt with hip dysplasia, Wobblers Disease, Von Willibrands, Addisons & Severe Canine Epilepsy. The heartbreak in dealing with these things is awful… I had to sit with a 21 week old Dane puppy when she was put to sleep because she was so severely dysplasic her hips were missing the sockets & she wasn’t even a candidate for hip replacement. A foster boy we took in would hurt himself in violent epileptic fits & was unpredictable when coming out of the siezures...

Jasper's Dam
The anger that follows such heartbreak is hard to deal with......especially knowing it all could have been avoided if folks who shouldn’t breed, wouldn’t breed. Breeding isn’t just “pair male #1 with female #1” You need to understand genetics. When breeding, a breeder needs to be motivated by improving the breed by producing sound, correct, healthy puppies & not motivated by how much money they think they can make off a litter...

You need to have your stock evaluated by outside, knowledgeable sources to determine if they adhere to their breed standard… You need to be sure the breeding stock is of sound temperament, you need to have your dogs health tested after 2 years of age.. This doesn’t mean “My vet looked ‘em over & he’s heathy” I want to see OFA certificates, I want to CERF clearances, I want to see genetic testing. I want to see a background of healthy, long lived ancestors....

When having a dog this size, you want assurances that they are of sound temperment...... Poor temperment is genetic & you certainly don't want a dog of this size with fear or aggression issues...

Jasper & Tator playing...

Jasper making himself at home with the kidos his 1st morning with us.

So given my criteria for buying my puppy, you can understand why it took me so long to find a puppy. There were a few puppies we could have gone with sooner, but the timing was wrong. Then, a dear friend of mine had a litter planned and I waited anxiously for her to finally do the breeding. In September I waited for news of my new baby… Only to get the heartbreaking news that there was a single puppy, and he was stillborn. We had worked ourselves up for this all year and it was a huge let down.

Long story short, a friend gave me the contact info for a breeder who may have something to suit us… I was skeptical. The puppy was the wrong color.. A fawn whereas I had my heart set on a Harlequin or Merle. He was also 6 months old and I wanted to start fresh with an 8 week old puppy to have an easier time meshing him into our diverse home.

Wrong age, wrong color…. All of that went right out the window when I met him. Love at first sight!

Got lip??!!? How could ya not love a face like that??
Jasper has a docked tail due to an injury and I swear his lil “nubbin” is too cute!! When the breeder first told me about the tail in an email I was a bit put off…. How strange would a Dane look with no tail??

But it turns out, a Dane with a lil nubbin’ of a tail is cute as can be (especially when he’s really happy) & it’s SAFER!! If you’ve ever been beaten with an iron rod like Dane tail.. Or have a refrigerator in your kitchen with DENTS in the door from a happy Dane tail, or ever watched an entire shelf on the entertainment center be cleared in one giant tail swipe, you can certainly appreciate the perks to a Great Dane sportin’ a nubbin…. Plus did I mention it’s freaking adorable?!?!

Jasper lounging on the couch watching the chickens through the patio door
I really worried about him & the free range chickens due to his age…. Surprisingly he did amazingly well with them, though he was a bit freaked out by them in the beginning. Once he settled in, he had one “iffy” moment in which he showed a lil too much interest in some hens who were running & squawking like crazy, but a sharp “No!” from me, and an angry rooster to back it up and he got the hint and keeps a safe distance now… The goats creep him out.. He’s ok with through the fence nose touching with the does, but the bucks scream & stink to high heaven & not a thing in the world would make him willingly approach the boys… Can’t say I blame him though……

Jasper has this silly quirk of collecting things… Socks, a hairbrush, a glass left out, a toy, a shoe….Just the most random things and he’ll bring them to you like a present and gets so excited if you act like you just love these “gifts” . So far he’s not destructive unless he finds a bit of newspaper… He simply can NOT help himself & must shred paper…. But once he’s done, he’ll grab a blanket from his kennel & cover the mess…lol

Jasper hiding a softball under all that

He is my constant companion….there hasn‘t been one day since he came home that he hasn‘t made me laugh & nothing is better than snuggling up with a Great Dane & a good book when the kiddos are at school.

He needs some socialization & work on perfecting some basic commands, but so far he’s proven to be a quick study and very eager to please….. We’re hoping to get his CGC after the holidays & am contemplating doing therapy work with him as he has the perfect temperament for it.

And since everyone seems to ask me this: Yes, he surely does live in the house… Yes I surely do let him on the couch (it’s why I have easy to clean leather furniture).. Yes of course he plays with my kids, he's quickly become their constant playmate & companion..... He hasn’t been here long but has already claimed them as HIS kids and heaven help anyone who troubles them…... This is a breed that is highly bonded to their humans…..they thrive on close contact to their people & make excellent, calm house dogs. I know many who have Danes that keep them outside…. That is simply something I could never, ever do…. I’d sooner make my brother live outside! lol

I’ve found this breed to be one of the most level headed guard dogs…… Fierce & brave when needed and in the same thought can have a toddler climbing all over them. Jasper is proving to be a good watch dog so far despite his youth…

I had some men come over late one night while hubby was in Oregon wanting to buy scrap metal… Very weird to say the least. Jasper was doing the very best Cujo impersonation…he stood firmly between me & the open door quietly growling.. If the men tried to come up the porch, he went NUTS, but as long as they stayed on the side walk near the drive way he just quietly growled & watched. I was happy for such a fearsome show, made me feel much safer. And as soon as they left his lil nubbin' was going 90mph and he was bringing me every single toy he could possibly find.... I think he was also impressed with how he handled the situation.....

When people come over, he’ll make a good showing of barking & carrying on, but the second I tell him “It’s ok” he’ll stand by me and wait for an introduction… Once he’s introduced then the poor visitor is attacked by Dane lovins galore… they get “hugs” (yes he wraps his head around you & squeezes), leans & if he really likes our visitor, odds are good he’ll bring out his favorite toys to show off.

He may have been kind of spur of the moment… He may be the wrong color. He may have been “too old”, the last minute, 9 hour drive may have been tiresome (and the 10 hours home in bad weather was even worse)….But I could not be happier. Our whole family is 100% smitten and it feels as if he’s been here his entire life.

Jasper & Shayla fell asleep watching Toy Story 3

Thank God for plans gone all wrong!


petey said...

What a great looking' dog! Congrats, isn't it great when the right one finds you??

Anonymous said...

Wow, he is stunning!!! Love the pic of him sleeping with ur daughter.

How big is he?

* Crystal * said...

Thanks Petey! Yes it's great, I'm 100% smitten with this sweet, goofy boy :)

Thank you Anonymous......Right now he is 34" at the shoulder with a lot of growing left to do.... He's gained 2 1/2" since coming home in October :)

hoosier girl said...

Oh. I've always wanted one but my DH is a beagle kind of guy. Course he might leave this world before me and then.... LOL! Congrats to you, though!

Anonymous said...

What a beautiful dog, his parents are very nice too.

Who is the breeder? Will they have puppies again soon?

* Crystal * said...

Oh hoosier, you should get a puppy then just pretend you're shocked when the "Beagle" gets huge.. lol

Thank you Anonymous.

His breeder is Von Bruno Great Danes in Oklahoma. Rob was very helpful, answered my 500 questions & has checked in frequently to ensure the match was a good one.

I don't know if or when they will have puppies, but you can google them & shoot him an email. If they don't have something, odds are good he can point you in the right direction. I highly reccomend them & won't hesitate to contact them again when I'm wanting a puppy :)

Vickie said...

A very good fit - we had a dane that lived next door when I was young. He was the most gentle of giants, and we loved him to death. Looks like your guy has come "home"!