This week’s reader rescue story is about a remarkable Great Dane who had a rough start, but soon the winds of change would blow in her favor. She would find not only find her furever home, but her true calling, too. We hope you enjoy reading her story as much as we did.
If you are the pet parent of a rescued dog, we want to share your story, too! For information about submitting your story, click here.
In March 2011 our beloved Bootsy was diagnosed with bone cancer. We chose not to treat it as she was near her eighth birthday and that’s an old lady by Great Dane standards, but instead chose to let her live out her final days for however long she may have. A mere three months later, she crossed the Rainbow Bridge.
Although we had known it was coming, it didn’t make losing her any easier.
Bootsy had been our “hugger,” meaning she loved to stand on her hind legs and wrap her paws around our necks as if hugging us. I greatly miss her hugs, as it was her special way of showing affection towards us.
A couple of days after our loss, my husband asked me if we were going to get another dog. Was he out of his mind? I was adamant in my insistence that we were doing just fine with the two dogs we had, Olivia and Elliot. I did not want to take on another dog right now.
But before I even realized it, I found myself surfing the internet looking at Great Dane rescues. I eventually found my way to the Kentucky Humane Society’s site and was looking through the photos of available dogs when one caught my attention and made me inhale sharply.
The photo of the white dog so closely resembled our Olivia that I was shocked. I started to read about the Great Dane named Helen, but before I got very far I thought to myself, “Nope, nope, don’t even go there!” I exited the site and tried to put it out of my mind, but a couple of hours later I found myself there, looking at Helen.
I called the shelter. Part of me was actually hoping that the dog had already been adopted and they just had not had a chance to take her picture down. But when I asked her about Helen, the shelter employee told me that she was 9 months old, deaf and partially blind. I actually got excited over this, as our Olivia is the same way and she’s proven to be a wonderful dog despite her challenges.
Helen’s shelter was located at the opposite end of the shopping center from their east campus. I knew the moment I walked through the door I was getting another Great Dane.
Through a window in the lobby, looking back at me, was Helen. It was as if she had been waiting on me to come and get her.
I fell in love with Helen instantly. She was full of energy and very loving, if not a bit wild. I spent a few minutes with her and finally had to tear myself away as I knew I needed to get back to work. I put down a deposit for the shelter to hold her until I could talk to my husband.
After work, I dashed home and left a printout of Helen on the dining table where I knew my husband would see it and wrote, “Can I come and live with you?”
When I got home, he’d written on the printout, “When do we get her?” He was ready to bring her home and he had not even met her yet. My heart soared!
I told my husband to stop by and meet Helen so he could make sure he wanted her. Of course he was in love with her instantly.
We both agreed the name Helen had to go. This young, energetic dog the size of a miniature horse was no Helen. We tossed around a bunch of names, and out of nowhere “Phoebe” popped out. We all agreed it was a good name and suited her.
I arrived the next morning just as they were opening the doors, with leash and Gentle Leader in hand. As I filled out the paperwork on Phoebe, the staff told me her life story.
Phoebe had been picked up as a stray late in the winter. Shortly thereafter she was adopted, but after a couple of months, the family had returned her claiming they hadn’t been able to deal with her, so she had gone back up for adoption. Lucky for me.
They brought Phoebe out to me and we headed to the park, twice, then to PetSmart and finally to the vet for a check-up. She was given a clean bill of health.
I was worried about her meeting Olivia. She was always my baby, the center of my universe and now she was going to have to share me with another. My fears were groundless as the new sisters hit it off immediately. We breathed a sigh of relief and took Phoebe to meet her new brother, Elliot.
He welcomed her into the family and seemed to be happy to have a new playmate he could run around with. Phoebe soon started obedience school and we spent the next six months going to weekly classes.
I had high hopes and great plans for Phoebe to become a therapy pet, but figured it would take me at least a year to get her to the point that she’d be calm enough and ready to take the test and start visiting nursing homes. However, this wonderful, sweet, loving and affectionate pooch surprised us all when she passed the therapy pet test just a few months later. She started visits immediately after. Sadly, the very same day that Phoebe passed her test and became a therapy pet, we lost our Elliott, so it was a bittersweet occasion for us.
Phoebe has turned out to be such a blessing in our lives. She’s by far the most affectionate dog we’ve ever had, always willing to lick your face with her puppy kisses and make everything seem right in the world. She has certainly helped us deal with the grief from both of our losses and has been a wonderful little sister and companion to Olivia.
PHOTO: Kim Kleinsteuber