Special Great Danes
This is the story of Flynn. Flynn is a very special Great Dane that took a very special person, Holly his foster mom, to give him a second chance...
In Holly's own words...
It all started with a phone call on a Friday afternoon. The rescue had called me to inform me that there was a stray with animal control that was to be put down in two hours if no one was able to pick him up. As he was a stray, there was no background on him and so I had no idea what to expect. I canceled my 3PM work meeting and called animal control to inform them I was on my way. They informed me that he had been with them for two weeks and that he was vicious and was getting worse with every passing day. They cautioned me to bring a muzzle and wished me "good luck" with this one. After I got off the phone, I paused to think about what I had gotten myself into. At that point, I felt like turning back was really not an option... time was ticking and he did not have much time if he was going to be rescued from being euthanized. Given the circumstances, I felt it would be best if I dropped my dog off at the dog sitters until I could assess this boy. I had no previous experience with strays and while I had read many books on how to be the leader of the pack, I was definitely a little outside my comfort zone with this situation. Fortunately, in the end all worked out for the best, but I would not recommend some of the steps I took. I arrived at animal control at 4:45PM with no time to spare and was greeted by the animal control officer. The agent again articulated that no one had been able to get near this boy and that he was snapping and growling at everyone. He also warned me that his mouth would be bloody due to him trying to bite through the rabies pole that they used to move him around with. I had baby gates in my truck to provide some sort of protection and separation. Within five minutes out came the agent with the rabies pole and at the end of the pole was a horrific site which will always remain vivid in my memory. His head hung low and all bones was a truly broken, sad and defeated dog. I had never seen a dog in that condition before and my heart broke. When he got to the back of my truck, he lifted his head and jumped right in...like it was a familiar place for him. He was saved and our journey together began. Little did I know that this dog would reach deep into my heart, change me and show me what the power of love was capable of. When I got home, I opened my garage, backed in and let him out. With hind sight, I would have done some research on how best to handle a stray in his condition. I do not recommend taking any of the steps I did and if presented with a similar situation, I would approach it a little differently. Since the time, I have done quite a bit of research on strays and I am now educated on the steps to adopt when taking a stray into one's home.
Once he was out of the car, he ran around the backyard and the house crying and growling. Initially fight or flight kicked in as he ran around to get a handle on where he was. I sat at my desk with treats and tried to ignore him. His cries where long and deep and I wondered how much of his life he had spent doing that with no one to answer or comfort him. I wondered how long it would take to rehabilitate him and if he would ever reach a point where he was adoptable. I thought about the possible toll on my family and other dogs. The road seemed like it would be a long and challenging one.
While I was overwhelmed and wanted to turn back, I knew that there may not be many options for this boy. After a few hours he seemed to have calmed down and so I left for a much needed break to take a yoga class. I returned home to this boy sitting in the corner of my couch growling in the dark. At that point, we were both scared of each other. While there was no mistaking this was a dog, he looked more like a skelator and smelled like formaldehyde. I wondered how a dog in his condition could still be alive!?! ? His hair was patchy from malnutrition and his spine looked like a row of rocks jutting out from under his skin. I made my way to the kitchen and thought maybe it was time to call the rescue and tell them I was ill equipped to handle a dog in his condition. I looked over at him and thought who in the world would want to take a dog into their home in his condition. I had read stories on dog town about dogs in extreme conditions that had no other options. This boy seemed as though he could easily be found among the many abused dogs in dog town. While I was stressed and unsure about my ability to rehabilitate him, I was at the point of no return… I had to give this my best shot. I knew that the rescue had resources to help me if I needed it and I also knew I had the love and support of my family. I had to believe that with some love and reassurance that this boy would and could bloom into the noble, confident and proud Great Dane he was meant to be.
As I made my way to the kitchen to make his dinner, he scurried off the couch and sat in the middle of the kitchen waiting for some food. As I turned around, his eyes were calm and he was sitting patiently for his dinner. For the first time since picking him up, I had hope. After his dinner, he approached me as I sat on the couch. While I was still apprehensive and unsure of the situation, I sat there calmly as he leaned into me and put his head on my lap. I tried to find someplace to rub him that was not a bone. I lightly touched his back and coiled a bit between the smell of his body and the delicate fragile nature of his frame. Within moments, he climbed up on the couch next to me, sat down and leaned in. He let out a long moan which sounded like a sigh of relief. He had a home now, he had someplace where he no longer had to run or wonder where his next meal was coming from. He had a warm place to lay his tried body and be loved.
By the second day, he had a collar and a name (Flynn) and it was clear he had bonded to me. I had become his saving grace and he was not going to let me out of his sight. His growling and crying had stopped and he started to respond to my commands. He was curious about the world outside but still visibly scared of it. By the third day, his smell was so off putting that I decided it was time to give him a bath. I was amazed to see how well behaved and still he was as I washed away his smells of fear and dread. Within the first week, I started to take him for walks. He would hold his head low; scared of almost everything we would come across. People would gasp at his appearance. He would cower at noises as well as people and dogs. He had no confidence and had a long road to becoming a happy and balanced dog. In the months that followed, Flynn grew a bond with my family. My other dogs taught Flynn how to be a happy dog in this world and daily trips to the dog park became part of his regimen to learn how to socialize and play. He became part of our pack and slowly but he emerged as a playful, loving boy. My boyfriend managed to build a bond with Flynn which was his first step in overcoming some of his fear associated with men. He went from being a dog that drew gasps to being a dog that drew admiration. Over a seven month time frame, Flynn blossomed into a dog that loves to be loved and who displays his joy and happiness by running and playing. His new family has informed me that Flynn runs and plays so hard in their yard that they no longer need a Rototiller.
Not only has Flynn left his paw prints in their yard for all to see, he has left them deep in my heart. He has brought so much love and happiness into the hearts of those around him. Fostering Flynn was not an easy experience, but some of the most rewarding experiences we have in life are not the easy ones! They are the experiences that come from commitment, dedication, love, hope and the belief that if we invest our time and energy into worth while fetes, the fruits of those labors are invaluable and priceless… Flynn and my experience with him will continue to amaze me and bring warmth to my heart for a lifetime! I want to thank Sunya for caring enough to pull over when you say this boy on the side of the road, I want to thank the rescue for saying yes to giving the boy a chance at life, I want to thank my family for their love and support, I want to thank the McKarthy family for loving our boy Flynn and giving him such a wonderful home and last but not least, I want to thank my boy Flynn… for the love and richness he brought into my life… you always bring a smile to my face and warm my heart with every update on your new chapter!