Rocky Mountain Great Dane Rescue, Inc.
A Special Dane and her Veterinarian


Behind Every “Great” Dane is a Great Veterinarian!

There just aren’t any greater than this Dane and this Vet! Meet Akella and her Vet and favorite Vet tech, Dr. Paul Bechtold and Liz Stille, respectively, from Belcaro Animal Hospital. Ok, ok… as Akella’s mom and dad we may be a little prejudice. But, they are very special in deed.

Akella came to us two years ago. She’s had three previous owners before us and is about 6 to 8 years of age. Akella is extremely well behaved: not destructive; no selective hearing...obeys every command; gets along with all animals and people. In fact Akella is in very high demand as an ambassador for RMGDRI.


The rescue prefers dogs with few issues to attend events to ensure that there are no dogfights or other scuffles. Akella has quite the track record for attending all day rescue events with all who meet her instantly falling in love with her. She is one of those dogs that just cannot get enough touching and affection. Yes, she is almost too perfect and she was that way from the first day we brought her home. That’s why it is so easy to spoil her…and just ask anyone… even the craziest of Dane lovers…boy do we spoil Akella. We would get into some of the details of how we spoil her; however, even we realize just how nuts we must seem to people.

Yes it all sounds so perfect. Life rarely is perfect and Akella’s life is no exception. Akella is one of those unlucky dogs with Mast Cell Cancer. I say dog not Dane because the cancer is prevalent in all breeds. Let’s see we’ve had Akella two years and she’s had eleven Mast Cell tumors removed. Translation: an average of one tumor removal surgery every two months. Now one easily sees how a very strong bond could develop between Vet and dog. (And for that matter the bonds between vet- pet owner-dog- vet tech- other hospital personnel – friends – family and so forth). In short, Mast Cell tumors are small surface type tumors that if left alone and not removed can metastasize to the spleen and other tissue and eventually cause death. Of course, how and when it becomes fatal depends on how aggressive the tumor is and whether or not a clean margin (all cancer cells removed) was achieved in surgery. This is called assigning a Phase/Grade (I, II or III) and Stage to the tumor and cancer, respectively. The idea is to find them as soon as they appear and remove them immediately. A simple needle aspirate determines if a growth is mast cell or benign. Akella is such a lumpy dog that she has many benign growths, which are left alone. We are continuously having lumps checked. I like to joke that I don’t pet my dog; I knead her …constantly feeling for lumps.

I cannot say enough about the commitment and dedication that Dr. Bechtold, Liz and the rest of the crew at Belcaro have shown Akella. Dr. Bechtold has pretty much made himself available for surgeries 24/7. Seriously, if we didn’t know better, one would think that Akella was his only patient. Liz has been known to rearrange her days off to ensure that she is there when Akella’s in for surgery. One would think that Akella would hate the hospital given that she is there so often for needle pricks and surgeries. We won’t say that she likes the hospital, but we know that it is a tremendous comfort to her having Dr. Bechtold and Liz cooing her and reassuring her that all is well. Also apparent is the excellent skill and talent given their success rate with these surgeries. Trust me, trying to get a clean margin on places like the face and extremities where there is very little tissue cannot be easy. Very important to mention is that Belcaro is very reasonable (and generously works with you) when it comes to costs.

Akella’s last tumor was very aggressive and it is unclear whether a clean margin was achieved. We are concerned, but know that she has the best care a dog could ever be so lucky to receive.
Thank you Dr. Bechtold, Liz and Belcaro!! We love you very much!

Leslie, Kurt and Akella