A man's soul can be judged by the way he treats his dog. ~ Chas Doran


A close up of Drama

It all started with an email:

We have a 1 yr old mantle girl whose leg is being amputated today coming in from a PA shelter who is afraid of strangers and needs aftercare by the beginning of next week, so that she can recover in comfort. She's currently at delco shelter, eval not really going to be much use since she's in pain and on drugs. I know I'm asking for a christmas miracle on this one.

This first information was documented about her: When acquired by the Dog Warden, after the car accident, many folks said that she was known to frequently run loose in their neighborhood (typically with another dog). However, they knew to NOT try and grab her because she had snapped a couple of times when people attempted to do so.

D__ contacted the folks that they "believe or have been told" the dog belonged to. She told them that the dog was injured and asked that they contact her. D__ has not heard from these people...and the Stray Hold time has ended

Drama plays with Madison, our Seeing Eye Trainee

Want to see how well Drama gets around on three legs?

Monday the 6th of December, 2010: Drama has been released from the shelter. [She had been hit be a car and had her rear right leg amputated at the hip on Friday the 3rd.] A MAGDRL volunteer (THANK YOU, Penny!) was kind enough to drive her up to our house. We formed a sling with a comforter and carried her from the truck to my basement. We gently rolled her onto the crib mattress and chatted while Drama got her bearings.Drama lies down in her pen

I knew this was a young Great Dane and that she was reported to be very fearful of men. I didn't know if she was housebroken, good with other dogs, or whether she would try to eat my cats. I figured Drama and I would muddle through. I had taken apart two large crates to form a pen, covered a crib mattress with a sheet and blanket, and laid towels on the floor. The extra food stand was in place with a little water in case Drama was thirsty. There were a few toys scattered about to make her feel at home. Drama slept ...

I borrowed a harness from my Dane, figuring that it would be easier to assist balancing Drama by holding onto the nylon. She didn't need much help at all. She would sniff in the yard but would not go to the bathroom. She ate her dinner (and medicines mixed in) with a healthy appetite. She would bark and howl for a few minutes, then curl up to sleep on the blankets she'd pulled off the crib mattress. My 16 year old son came down briefly; she greeted him with barks and growls. I did bring a book down with me and sat with her, reading.

Her appetite is great, and she takes her pills (antibiotic & pain medication) in with the food without issue. I put her to bed around 9:30; she barks for five minutes or so then settles down for the night.



Photos taken by Penny when she picked Drama up from the shelter.

Drama sniffs the floor at the shelterDrama on her way to my house


Drama standing outside

Tuesday the 7th: Not surprising, there were puddles sopped up by the the towels when I greeted Drama in the morning. I brought treats out with me, but didn't have the opportunity to reward Drama for peeing outside. I put down clean towels and washed the wet ones. We repeated this several times during the day. When Drama had a bowel movement outside she got a handful of treats as a reward. I brought a radio downstairs and set it to a classical music station in hopes that the music would soothe her and keep her company. I again brought my book and some chips downstairs; Drama likes sour cream and chive chips too! She did bark and howl during the day several times. I don't want to bring her upstairs with my dogs until I know she's somewhat reliably housebroken, and that she is healthy enough to be with them. Kennel cough is a concern, but I'm more worried about one of my dogs hurting her.

Wednesday the 8th: I had to work all day and hoped to get Drama to go to the bathroom outside before leaving. No success. My husband called me at 11 a.m. to say that she'd pooped and peed in her makeshift pen, but he wasn't comfortable with the way she was barking/growling at him to try to clean up after her. Luckily the area was big enough that she still had plenty of room to walk around/lie down without getting her incision in the mess. She was very happy to see me when I got home. She had been left with a frozen Kong filled with a portion of her breakfast. It was nearly empty when I returned. I repeated the book/chip time; we both relaxed before dinner. One of my cats slipped into the room; Drama was very curious but backed off immediately at the hiss.

Thursday the 9th: I'm a little discouraged that I cannot get Drama to pee outside, but she will poop for me if I'm patient. I have some quartered meatballs that I bring with me each time we go out. Drama chases a leaf blown by the wind and bounced up to grab at a leaf dangling over her head. This girl can move on three legs!

close up of Drama's eyes and noseI made the mistake of climbing my steep back stairs to run in for some coffee this morning; Drama decided to follow me. When I stepped back outside it was to find her 3/4 of the way up the stairs. I crept forward on the small landing and grasped the front of the harness. Drama stood still as I slid beside her. I couldn't get her to move forward or backwards, and she was too heavy for me to lift. I knew my husband would be home in a few minutes, but I also realized he wouldn't be able to assist when she was still frightened of him. I took a few deep breathes and after what seemed like hours, but was only a minute or so, Drama turned around and faced back down the stairs. I held the top of the harness so she wouldn't plunge forward, and finally we were back down on solid ground. I made a mental note to make sure I gated off the bottom of the stairs if I needed to head upstairs again!

There was a little spotting on one of the towels, just a few drops of blood. Drama actually laid down when I asked and allowed me to gently blot her incision with a warm wash clothe.

Friday the 10th: Drama had one wet towel in her room, but nothing else. She wouldn't poop for me before I left for work. I had no calls from my husband, and when I returned it was to find only one more wet spot. I almost thought she may have peed outside, but it was dark and I couldn't tell. The frozen Kong I'd given her was licked clean.

Saturday the 11th: I thought the pen was dry, but there was a wet spot on the comforter. But ... when I first brought her out, Drama peed outside for me!!!! I was ready to give her the whole container of meatball pieces, but reigned myself in and gave her a palm full. I made sure Paige, my Dane, was in another room and let Drama come upstairs. Three of my female cousins are visiting; Drama cautiously made her way over to each and introduced them to the Dane lean. The cameras came out in a bit, it turns out the she is more afraid of cameras than she was of my cousins! My son came into the kitchen, Drama approached him several times and did the same with my husband. I was thrilled!

Drama leans against my cousin DawnShe had no accidents in her pen during the day.

Sunday the 12th: The pen was dry this morning! No accidents at all. She wasn't thrilled with the cold rain pouring on us, nor was she comfortable with the umbrella I hid under as we walked the yard. Drama did pee outside, though, and later on pooped also. I had to walk out with her, and did initially have to pull her out the door. She prefers going to the bathroom in the leaves that have been piled along our fence line.

We've settled into a routine. I let my dogs out then go let Drama into the yard. She gets lots of praise and a meatball piece when she goes potty. Back into her pen she goes; I feed the cats, the other dogs, then her. She spends an hour or two relaxing in her pen, then goes back outside. As long as she's emptied her bladder and bowels, she then gets to have run of the house for a few hours. We repeat that two more times before dinner, where we repeat the process. When I shut her in her "pen" she gets told "sweet dreams" and gets tossed a treat. I'm still leaving the radio on for her.

Today there has been no fussing when she's been shut downstairs. She let out a couple of "woofs" at my husband and son this morning, but has not had any other reactions to them. My husband was actually able to step over her at one point, although when he backed up to pet her, she did scramble to her feet and back away. As soon as Jim stood still, Drama came over and leaned against him.

My Dane stays gated in the living room, or has the rest of the house if Drama needs tobe in there. Drama paces for a bit then settles down. She loves our Corgi mix and the Golden Retriever we're raising for The Seeing Eye. She still wishes she could get a good sniff at one of the cats ... She will watch them but shows no signs of aggression towards them.

Drama wags her tail HARD when she is happy. I'm leery of crate-training her due to how she whips her tail back and forth when she first sees me. So far she's done fine in the pen area, but I fear a bad case of happy tail if she's in a more confined area. I do feel she needs a space to call her own, where she can retreat to if something spooks her. She's not been destructive here, but also has not had much opportunity to be bored ...

Drama says hi to MattMonday the 13th:Drama received a Secret Santa package today! Normally I wait until Christmas, but I am very tempted to let her open it earlier. She deserves a few things to call her own! Ann D. organizes the Secret Santa exchange for the Great Dane Mailing List that I participate in; I cannot thank her enough for making sure that Drama was not left out.

Her pen was dry again this morning. She doesn't like being last in line to eat and was making sure I heard her the whole time the cats and other dogs were getting their meals poured. I've pet her while she eats, but haven't tested her beyond that. She does allow me to take toys away from her without a problem.Drama did her first "naughty" today: she found a drier sheet on the floor and ripped it up. It's nice seeing her acting like the puppy she is!

My Dane, Paige, thinks that playing should involve as much body contact as possible. She is not a gentle dog with others, but would much rather body-slam a playmate or grab another dog as they race around. I have allowed contact between the two dogs as long as there is a gate between them. Today Paige decided that it would be great fun to start racing across the room to the gate, skidding to a stop, and trying to nip at Drama. (Paige thinks this is play; I don't fault Drama for disagreeing!) Drama lip-curls to show her displeasure and backs out of the way, but is willing to return to the gate almost immediately after.

Vulcan, the year-old Golden Retriever we are raising for The Seeing Eye, has enticed Drama to play several times. They take turns sitting on each other, stealing toys back and forth, and weaving back and forth in front of the other.

Thursday the 16th: The last few days have been busy for Drama. She went for her first car ride with me, and met our daughter who is visiting from college.

I wasn't sure if I'd be able to entice Drama into my car due to her skittishness on leash. It's amazing what those bits of meatball and some turkey lunchmeat can accomplish! Drama trotted up to my Outback and sniffed at the treats I sprinkled in the back. I lifted her front end up and she tried to help with her hind end. Within a few minutes she had curled up on the blanket. She watched everything as we drove by.

I had to pick her up out of the car once we arrived at the Canadensis Veterinary Clinic. She followed me in carefully, going right over to one of my coworkers and leaning heavily against her. She approached everyone on her own, cautious but tail wagging nonstop. We only stayed for ten minutes, but I was able to entice her onto the scale before heading back out. She weighs 98.8 pounds. I need to have a heartworm test run on her before she can be adopted out; I plan on doing that some time after the New Year.

Late Tuesday evening our daughter arrived from SC. Drama had already been put to bed; I brought Chelsea downstairs to meet our newest foster. Drama walked right up to her.

Vulcan curls up with DramaChelsea said that she had no problems getting Drama to go out while I worked on Wednesday. She said the dog spent the majority of the day upstairs with everyone else. Chelsea isn't a big dog fan, but she thinks Drama is cute and likes how she leans against her. Jim walked through the room Drama's pen is in; she did not bark or growl at him at all. Compared to how Drama reacted to him a week ago (he could not get in to clean up her mess), this is a huge improvement!

We were not home this afternoon when Matt returned from high school. He said Drama greeted him in her pen with a wagging tail and went outside without a problem. She was upstairs gated in the living room (as always, away from Paige) when Chelsea and I returned from our errands. I am relieved that she doesn't have to stay down in her area all day while I'm at work!

We have a visiting Golden Retriever here with us for the next few days. Burton is a favorite of our dogs, getting along with everyone. Drama took to him immediately. Burton doesn't know whether to play with Drama, run with Vulcan, tease Paige with toys, antagonize Gator, or curl up near one of us!

Friday, December 18 When I return from work, it's to find that Drama has spent the day down in her pen. Jim did call to say that he was able to let her out several times; I am thrilled that she is not as fearful of him. Once everyone is fed, Drama gets to spend the evening upstairs with us. I put her to bed around 10 p.m. at her request (she enters her pen and lays down on the blankets when she comes in from her potty break). A little while later my sister-in-law and niece arrive. I bring Drama upstairs to meet them once they've settled in; Drama's tail never stops wagging!

Drama curls up with AmandaSaturday, December 19 Drama is fascinated with my niece, Amanda. She will not leave her side, curling up with a soft moan on the floor next to her. I think Amanda is just as smitten with Drama ...

Monday, December 20 We're having four windows replaced today, including the one in Drama's room. My dogs have been gated in the living room, Drama in the computer room next door. I've walked her through several times for potty breaks, she is curious about the men working and even sniffed a hand before fleeing with a bark. When one man was working on a window from our back yard, Drama desperately wanted to go up and say hi. Her tail was wagging nonstop, but she just couldn't get up the nerve to go over.

During this I received a call from work -- the doctor had an opening, did I want to bring Drama in? I don't want to stress her but really would like to clear her medically ... and I say yes. It's fairly easy lifting her into my Outback, and she settles down immediately. She may lay down, but she is looking out the back window the entire 20 minute ride over. When we arrived, Drama gave out Dane leans to my coworkers without reservation.

Her heartworm/lyme test comes out negative (YEAH!!!!). Drama allows Dr. Elizabeth Bell to examine her, although you could tell how nervous she was. She's put on a few ounces in the week since she first visited. Dr. Bell was able to remove most of the sutures from the amputation; she was very pleased with the healing in the stump. She did give me more pain meds for Drama, mentioning the possibility of phantom pains that may occur for several weeks. Although I thought I saw a spay scar last week, Dr. Bell cannot confirm this for sure -- Drama is too uneasy to allow an exam of her belly.

Tuesday, December 21 Chelsea and I left Drama gated in the computer room this morning when we went out to run errands. When we returned, it was to discover that Drama had partially pulled up the carpet at the doorway. She is very much still a puppy! In her defense, there is no protective covering between the living room and computer room carpets; our cats have clawed at the corners and removed any adhesion that may Ruth & Amanda have a chat with Dramahave held the carpet to the floor. It's even possible that Drama pawed at the carpet, but one of my dogs (Vulcan??) pawed at the padding that was visible beneath the gate (the gate was in place a few inches off the floor). Either way, Drama will be back downstairs in "her" room when we leave the house. I've altered things a bit; instead of having the crate pieces forming a pen in a corner or the room, I set up our colossal crate in the corner then penned off the area around it. I want to see if Drama is comfortable in a crate; her adopters may prefer that . [My only reason not to crate train her is that Drama wags her tail ferociously. I'm leery of the damage she may do to her tail.]

Once her area was set up again, Drama stepped right into the crate and laid down. When I was cleaning the basement and stepped in to look for her, she was curled up into a ball and sleeping inside the crate.

I am in awe of people who can spend years living with dogs who cannot be in the same room. It can be tiring making sure Paige is gated in one room before I allow Drama to walk through. They still sniff over the gate, but more frequently Paige is barreling up, and Drama is curling her lip and snarling at her. Other times they merely kiss each other and sniff ... Paige does break eye contact when Drama snarls at her, looking away, but I am not confident enough to allow them to work it out themselves.

Friday, December 24 Jim and the kids went to Boston last night; his younger brother is visiting from his job in China. My early Christmas gift is being able to have Paige and Drama upstairs together. Drama is making playful overtures towards Paige, pawing and nibbling at her. I'm trying to minimize that so as not to have things out of control. I have to go out for a few errands; Drama is down in her pen with the door to the room open. I've done that for a few days with no negative effects that I've seen: she doesn't bark incessantly, nor is anything torn up. She seems to lie comfortably in the crate and snooze while I'm gone.


Drama investigates her Secret Santa boxSaturday, December 25: Christmas day here, Christmas evening actually as I write. The fire is on, our tree up, the dogs and cats curled up comfortably. It was a pleasant day, with one exception.

Secret Santa gifts for the dogs are the only ones beneath the tree. I make sure Drama is in the living room without having to stress about the other dogs. She's confused by the box I push in front of her, curious as I open it but ready to flee. She sniffs the presents that are wrapped inside for her, but is too nervous to show too much interest in the individual packages as I take them out. She tentatively takes one toy, but drops it when I exclaim happily. This is one nervous dog when faced with something new.

Drama has no problem taking the HUGE dog treat that was hidden in the box. I follow her into the computer room to get a good picture. She leans forward to take the treat from me, but pees a tiny bit. She's been here for two and a half weeks, the commotion of the Christmas tree and my subdued excitement scares her that much. She's going to need a home that understands she bounces back quickly, but that she first needs time to readjust.

Fast forward through Paige, Gator, & Vulcan getting their packages. All four dogs are in the living room. They're doing fine together. I should have left it at that ... I should not have rushed things!

Instead, I allow all four dogs outside at the same time. All is well until Paige chases after her favorite toy. Drama chases her, they face off, and suddenly they are fighting. Drama is down and Paige is grabbing and shaking whatever body parts she can -- face, legs. I have to hit her with the pooper scooper to get her to let go, and then Vulcan is on Drama ... He lets go instantly, thankfully, but the damage has been done. All the good work over the last few weeks settling Drama in has evaporated. I am angry with my dogs and furious with myself.

Drama doesn't want to come near me. She's retreated back to her pen downstairs. I sit on the floor with a treat and speak softly as she slowly comes over. We make friends again, but she is too spooked to let me wipe the scratches on her face where Paige's teeth scraped. Drama is too nervous to allow me to examine her, but visually she looks better than I expected. The sounds of a dog fight are horrendous; it's hard to remain calm.

Drama remains downstairs for the next few hours. I will admit my thoughts towards Paige went first to euthanizing her for attacking Drama, to realizing that I was the one who set off the whole thing. I rushed the integration.

After taking more than a few deep breathes, I grab the treats and clicker. Paige and I go over some basic obedience. I'm starting boot camp here again. I bring Drama back upstairs for a bit, I don't want her to be afraid to be up here when Paige is. Drama learns that the sound of the clicker means that she gets a yummy treat. We'll start slow, but we're going to start.

Dinner time remains the same: the cats eat, then my three, then Drama. Drama goes out and I take Vulcan out front to go while Paige and Gator go out into the back yard. Drama and Vulcan are settled in the living room while Paige is remanded to the other side of the gate. We've all settled down and relaxed. I'm going to try to keep things calm and collected for the dogs so they can return to their routine.


Drama and Vulcan curl up on the crib mattressWednesday, December 29: Drama sleeps on the crib mattress now! It's a small thing, and rather silly, but up until yesterday she refused to do more than use it as a pillow. She has made no attempt to get up on the furniture, nor would I allow her if she tried. I don't know if her adopters will want her on the couch, and figure it's much easier for them to teach her to climb up, then it is for her to learn that she's no longer allowed on furniture.

Let me give you an example of the patience Drama’s future family will need with her. A nine days ago I removed her harness. Four days after that I attempted to put a collar on her; I misjudged the size and it stuck by her ears. Before I could pull it off, Drama shrieked and ran from me, succeeding in pulling it over one ear (and making it even more difficult to remove). Normally I would carefully pull the ear through then wiggle the collar off, but Drama yelped horribly when I tried. I ended up having to cut the collar off her, using caution not to catch the scissors on her each time she yanked away. Once the collar was off and thrown out, Drama would not come near me for hours. She ran downstairs to her pen and curled up in her crate, back to me. Treats couldn't lure her out.

Did I mention Drama is petrified of leashes?

I have not been able to get her harness back on her since (no collar, no harness, can’t get near her with a kennel lead). How do I get this dog anywhere if there’s an emergency? I can’t.

Since Sunday I’ve been working with her accepting the harness again. At first I’d simply hold it while giving her a treat (she would run for her crate as soon as she saw it in my hand). Over the last few days, when I’ve shut the pen door so she cannot run back into her crate, she will ever so carefully approach for the treat. I’ve gotten to the point today where I could set it on her back, and pet her with it ...

Drama cannot be forced into this. You would think it would be simple to just PUT IT ON HER. Trust me, I've been frustrated enough to want to, but I realize that it would take me so much longer to gain her trust. If you could see how scared she is, truly petrified, you would understand why I'm being so relaxed in my handling of Drama. She is, after all, dramatic in her reactions!

The good news is that her harness is back on her today. She allowed me to place it right over her head. She stood still, but relaxed and leaned against me when I praised her.

Drama appears to have recovered from her trauma Christmas day of being attacked by Paige. I allow them together only in the living room, and only when Paige is on a leash and curled up on the couch next to me. Otherwise, I shut Paige in one room when walking Drama through, and leave the gates up. I have been standing beside them when they greet at a gate, and give both girls treats for not being reactive to the other. Paige will still charge up at times, and Drama will still snarl a greeting. Considering the gates are only chest-high on both, I am thankful that I don't have to put up taller ones.

Tuesday, January 4 This has been a week of laughter. Drama is such a funny dog! She’s goofy, happy and silly. She is also a contortionist, laying on the floor looking up with such guileless expressions that we have to laugh. I can’t tell you how much I like this dog. My daughter, Chelsea (20), who is not a big dog person, croons that Drama is suuuch a cute girl and handles her spectacularly. My son (16) calls her a “little girl,” and speaks in just the right soft voice to her. Jim, my husband, treats her like one of our own dogs: he praises when deserving and scolds when her reaction is not appropriate.Drama peers over Paige

Our brat-cat, Ocelot, was trying to play with the laser pointer tonight. Chelsea had her zipping around, when Drama caught sight of the moving red dot. Drama likes the laser, and either leaps at it, or lays down and pounces as the light moves across the floor. It is very amusing!

She, Vulcan, and Burton, a six year old Golden that stays with us when his family vacations, were all lying on the floor. Drama would roll over and steal a toy from Vulcan. He’d grab it back. She'd swivel the other way and nibble on the stuffy Burton had in his mouth. He’d cock his head and look at her, then take the toy away. It was so funny watching the three of them play so gently.

Another time she and Vulcan were in my bedroom. Vulcan and Drama both had a Nylabone Drama tipped her head, looking at Vulcan ... walked up and slowly pulled the turkey-leg Nylabone out of his mouth. She laid back down, one chew in her mouth and the other between her legs.

We can let Drama out into the back yard and no longer have to step outside with her. She still likes to poop along the fence line, but no longer demands leaves to carpet the ground where she will be urinating. I’ll open the unfinished basement door and tell her, “Go potty!” She’ll run off, squat, and do her business. She then comes barreling back. I'm trying to teach her that my open palm means SLOW DOWN! She's wiped out on the concrete floor of the unfinished basement at least once and needs to enter at a slower pace.

We have very steep stairs going from our kitchen to the yard. Drama surprised me by running right down them with Gator and Vulcan. She hesitated when it came time to come back up them, and waited patiently until I made my way to the basement and could let her back in. She is incredibly mobile, but has moments of extreme caution.

I’ve been teaching Drama that a leash is a GOOD thing. She has been so afraid of them. Yesterday and today I hooked a leather leash to her harness and took her out front. Yesterday she had to be coaxed, today she was getting excited about going out for a W A L K.

To show how quickly patterns develop: I did get Drama out front on leash once last week. The prior two times had been for trips in the car. She sniffed around a bit, then lead me to the back of the Outback. Leash must equal car ride, right? This was after only two times!

Early one morning last week Drama fussed until Jim let her out right before leaving for work. I heard his car pull out of the driveway, then Drama started carrying on again. She barked and howled until I stumbled downstairs. I was not in good humor, and was close to snarling at her as I opened the gate to her pen. She took one look at me and ran into her crate, curling up with her back to me. No matter how softly I spoke, or what treats I used, I could not get her to come to me. Drama is ultra-alert to the moods of the people who surround her. If she thinks she sees something scary, she is not risking anything by approaching. Imagine how this could play out if she ever got loose – she will not be the type to run joyfully to her family if she senses any sort of high emotion.

Drama is thinking about getting into mischiefOur Christmas morning gift-opening was New Year's Day. Since the kids were little, they could not get a glimpse of the tree until we could go in as family. January 1st had Drama gated in the living room with the tree, and gifts that had been placed beneath overnight. From the kitchen I hear, "riiiiip." When I look, Drama has stolen one of the presents Jim wrapped for me and is gleefully shredding the silver paper. I guess she thought the Burt's Bees Cranberry & pomegranate sugar scrub was for her, not me ...

Drama has gained a lot of confidence with dogs in her month here. She and Vulcan are fast buddies; they are, after all, the same age. Gator, the ol’ dog, is respected by her and not seen as a threat. She and Paige, our Dane, will never, ever be even remote friends. They both get treats when they greet each other nicely over the chest-high gates. This happens about half the time. The other half the time Paige will charge up to the gate, Drama will bark , and they are told to QUIT! Over the past few days Drama has started barking at Paige when she is let back into the house. Whether Drama is in the living room separated by two gates from Paige, or Paige has been let on the porch and the French doors are between them, Drama will start to bark as soon as she sees her near-reflection enter the area. I’ve noticed Drama is the one to start the behavior, and most of the time Paige responds by turning her head away.

Yet, if Drama has been downstairs and has just been allowed to come back up, Paige will snap at her over the gate. New Year’s day Paige snapped hard enough at Drama as Jim was stepping between them that she had Jim quite upset (it was almost his skin and not the air). This morning I was stepping over and felt the air move as Paige CHOMPED at Drama. I again have a world of respect for people who can live with dogs who absolutely cannot be in the same room. I’m just aiming for safety for the two, with a prayer that no more disasters happen before Drama’s family realizes that SHE is the dog they are missing from their lives. I will miss her, incredibly. I pray they realize what a wonderful, special dog she is.

Our things to work on next: more leash time and walks, cleaning ears with diaper wipes, and nail trimming. When Drama first arrived she would yelp and twist away if I touched her ears. Now we can roll them between our fingers, move them around, or peer down into the ear. We’ll see how actual ear-cleaning goes. I did try to trim Drama’s nails a few weeks back; I got two or three nails trimmed before Drama shrieked as if I was cutting off toes and ran away. She has a few toenails that are quite long, they really must be cut back. Wish us luck ...


Tuesday, January 11

I snapped a couple of sensational photos of Drama playing in the snow with Vulcan. For missing a leg, this girl can move! She zigs, she zags, she twists and turns.

We've made a bit of progress with the leash issue. Yesterday Drama went for her second walk. Her first one consisted of moving down the driveway to to the road, then nervously investigating the patch of snowy grass near the roadway. She was ready to pull me down the drive way as soon as the neighbor backed their car into the street. This second trip lasted much longer. It involved not only sniffing, but walking, too! Drama was doing fine until another neighbor started to drive past. Eric rolled down his window to chat with me, and Drama worked up enough nerve to hop a bit closer to his car. It was obvious Drama was done when Eric pulled away, so we turned back and returned to the house. These baby steps are laying a foundation to build on, and I'm proud of Drama!

Last Thursday I had some laundry hanging outside (yes, in January here in PA). Drama was moving along the fence line when one of the sleeves from the shirt dangling above her touched her back. Drama yelped and ran ... it was funny and sad at the same time.

I'd also noticed that Drama was periodically yelping painfully. At first I blamed one of the other dogs for knocking into her, until I witnessed her standing still, yelping, and whirling around to look at her stump. She'd been off pain medications for a few days; I promptly had them refilled and started them back up. I did hear her cry out around 3 a.m. this morning and whimper a little, but that's the first time I've heard her since she restarted the Rimadyl. I know people get phantom pains from limbs that have been amputated; it isn't surprising that she is, too.

Drama has discovered a few of my house plants. I've been working on teaching her that this is not a salad bar for her to graze at her convenience. My success is questionable at this point. Drama has also discovered the joy of counter surfing. She stole a new bottle of white out off the counter yesterday; of course she punctured the bottle and got some splattered onto the maroon rug. That will teach me not to put things back in the drawers where they belong! Today's conquest was a cookie off my plate. She was trying to remind me that I've been mentioning cutting back on my portions, I suppose ...

When Drama has first arrived, I had asked for input from co-members of a Great Dane email list that I belong to. One reply was as follows:

As far as the amputation goes, the MAIN thing her new owners will need to be really diligent about is keeping her weight down. Really, the leaner the better. The second thing that will probably help is a good joint supplement. Glucosamine, that sort of thing. Normally I don't start dogs on that until they are 3 or 4 years old, but an amputee is different. The risk is arthritis/joint breakdown not only in the supporting leg, but also in her lower back since dogs who are missing a hind leg often let the unsupported side sag a bit, resulting in a twisting action on the lower back. I've never had a Dane with a missing leg, but I did have a BIG Doberman male who lost a hind leg in an accident, and he did extremely well. Lived to be 13 or so which is a good lifespan for a Dobe!

There are tons of joint supplements on the market, generally I have found that liquids or powders seem to work best for most dogs. I think they absorb them better than tablets. My current favorite is Phyto-flex that I get at Nature's Farmacy.

As for the confidence issues, it sounds like you are on the right track! One thing I can recommend is an AMAZING book:
"Help for your Fearful Dog" by Nicole Wilde. You can find it at amazon and at dogwise.com, probably other stores that sell training books.

Barb Bristol
Symmetry Danes


Drama wears a collar!Tuesday, January 18 Despite the snow and ice storm today, Drama has done well balancing in the yard. She doesn't care for this crunchy snow that splinters beneath her feet. She's been torn between simply doing her business and running back in when allowed out, and hopping around to play with Vulcan. She startled briefly the first time I called them in and awaited with a big towel, but recovered quickly and seemed to enjoy being dried off.

Yesterday was a big day for Drama. She let me put a collar on, AND TAKE IT OFF, without issue. She still ducks away, but it takes little maneuvering for me to get the collar over her muzzle and past her ears. Even pulling it off over her ears, which caused such a horrendous issue on Christmas, doesn't get a reaction at all. I'm glad I took it slow and waited for her to trust me, instead of insisting she do it my way.

The other huge step forward for Drama yesterday was a visit from co-MAGDRL volunteer John Warrren. John's main reason for the trip was to get some good photos for the MAGDRL website, but it nicely coincided with Drama greeting a man appropriately. I handed John a container of diced-up meatballs as he walked into our house. He fed them to Drama and had her relaxed in less than 5 minutes. This, the girl who would bark, growl, and flee from any man! She's come a long way, baby!




Mark scratches Drama on the chin as she lays on the crib mattressSaturday, January 22I have been asking men that I know if they would be willing to come over and meet Drama. This weekend she had two visitors, both named Mark. Mark #1 is a member of Pocono Guiding Pups; we were going to be taking care of Ziggy, the German Shepherd he is raising. Drama barked at Mark as he was coming in with Ziggy's supplies. She didn't know whether to pay attention to what the man was doing or meet the dog that Mark brought with him. She never completely settled down with Mark #1, but she did approach him several times as we stood and talked.

Later that night Mark #2 stopped by after work. He spent a fair amount of time coaxing Drama to be his friend. He offered her treats and lay on the floor near her, just talking to her. Drama didn't relax enough to curl up with him like she does my husband and son, but she did lay down on the crib mattress and allow him to touch her. It's progress! If anyone else would like to stop by, I would be grateful.




Drama curls up between Jim & Matt as they watch TVSunday, January 30 Drama the Llama, Drama-Dairy, Dur-rhama ... I call her by all three and she comes running with tail wagging. If she's out in the back yard she streaks through the snow and vibrates with joy. She'll slink down like a cat as she runs, and she has learned to pivot on that one rear leg with a precision that is incredible.

She is an early riser. I am not. This has caused conflicts, especially on Saturday mornings where I would give just about anything to be able to sleep an hour past my normal get-up time. I've been keeping her downstairs in her crate/pen area at night, just to keep consistency since that is where she remains if no one is home. Last night she spent her first night loose in our bedroom. She curled up with Vulcan on his bed for a bit, but settled on the bed at the foot of our waterbed for most of the night. Blessedly, when I woke up at 4 a.m. needing to visit the bathroom, she settled right back down and fell back asleep! One of our cats had a burst of energy an hour later; when I growled at Drama to "GO LAY DOWN!" she did.

Friday morning was one such morning that Drama had woken up about an hour before I had to rise. I'd gone downstairs and told her to, "Lay down and be QUIET!" She did, and when I went back downstairs 60 minutes later praising her for being so good, it was to find she'd had diarrhea on the floor. The poor dog had asked and carried on, and I misread her barking for wanting to be upstairs when she really was begging to go out. I cleaned up her mess (my punishment), brought her back inside, then followed Drama up to the kitchen. I took out a diaper wipe to run over her just in case she had soiled herself. She must have thought I was angry because she screamed and ran back down to her pen. I hadn't been upset, but I was moving quickly, which can still spook her. I talked softly and cheerfully, slid her collar back on (I don't leave it on overnight when she's in the crate/pen area), and gently tried wiping her down again. This time she leaned against me and allowed me to make sure she was clean (she was, she is a clean girl). Drama has been wonderfully housebroken since the first few days, so I really felt bad for not reading her signs correctly.

Drama and Vulcan want to see the kitty on the other side of the gateI am able to clean Drama's ears with diaper wipes, and I've gotten to the point where I can trim one or two of her toenails at a time. She doesn't scream like I'm cutting off her toes any more, but she rolls over and wiggles and mouths at the clippers and my hands. I'm trying to get her used to the pedipaws that I have, but the sound scares her. I think she'll eventually come to prefer that or a dremel to the clippers, but it's going to take time.

Drama has shown that she can in fact sit on command. She's learning that's a must when it's dinner time. I can get her motivated using just maraschino cherries or ice cubes as treats! Obviously she enjoys hot-dogs or meaty doggy treats as training encouragement, but it is funny to see how excited she gets over an ice cube.

Drama and Paige are still rotated from room to room: Drama in the living room/computer room, Paige loose in the house. They take turns, and will greet each other over the gates and kiss each other. If Paige is excited, she will still bite at Drama over the gate, and Drama has learned to curl her body and head out of the range of snapping jaws. The fact that I can use chest-high gates and let the two have face-to-face contact shows promise, but I don't let myself forget that Paige can be a bully and not to falsely believe that the two can be allowed together without strict supervision. At night I'll put the gentle leader on Paige and lead her into the living room; once she's on the couch with me the GL is removed and leash hooked to her collar.

Last night Paige was snoozing on the crib mattress in front of the fire; I was nearby reading a book. Drama carries on if she's shut out of the room, so I decided to let her in once I had the leash on Paige. Drama comes up to Paige, head & shoulder on the floor, butt up in the air, then flops down next to her. She rolled over on her back and kicked her legs a bit, then took a playful nibble at Paige. Obviously there's no aggression on Drama's side of it, but I ended up removing her from the room so Paige wouldn't get in trouble for leaping on top of her.

A friend whose Dane had the same leg amputated shortly after Drama did referred me to a great site: Tripawds Blogs: A User-Supported Three Legged Dog Blog Community. I think this is a web page that will prove beneficial to whoever adopts Drama.

Thursday, February 24 Drama took her first walk off of our dead-end street today. She still weaves and bobs when I get ready to put her collar and harness on, but she bounces with excitement once I pick up the leash.

Drama squintsIt is nice to see that she has learned that the leash is a fun thing and not a tool of punishment. Drama will pull ahead a bit when we walk, then return close to my side. She tends to walk as closely to me as possible, which can make stepping difficult as I try to avoid trampling her. I used a longer leash today, hoping that she would be curious enough to explore a bit. When we reached the end of our road and faced the shrinking snow bank that stood between us and the trail through the woods, Drama was a little hesitant to climb over. She would take a few steps then stop, walk a bit more then halt again. She did stop to sniff several times, and even ventured away from my side a time or two. I don't think she ever walked to the end of the leash, or caused any tension in it, though.

Once we reached the next paved road, I noticed a lot of lip-licking as we trod forward. That was the main sign of her discomfort; she still seemed to be enjoying being out. Two cars passed us on that road. She doesn't panic when she sees an auto, but definitely turns to follow where it is going. We were almost back to the other entrance of the wooded trail when a Fed-Ex truck roared by. Drama almost sat down, but didn't attempt to flee. I couldn't blame her for fearing the truck; it was larger and noisier than the two cars that had slowly gone by us!

Back on the trail through the trees again, I noticed Drama taking the time to smell things a bit more than when we started out. I had walked Paige through this part of the trail earlier. There was still a lot of stop/start, walk a few steps/halt as we trudged through the snow. I found that by touching Drama's rump with my fingers and telling her, "Go," she would start walking again.

On Valentine's Day I noticed that Drama was going into heat. I had really hoped she was already spayed, but no such luck. I have learned that a dog missing her rear leg is unable to wear the "diapers" that can normally keep things much cleaner when a dog is in season. That and the fact that Drama would only let me put them on when she was eating, then would look at her rump, scream, sit down, and shriek again. She is a Drama queen ...

She will not be able to go through surgery until several weeks after her heat cycle has ended. I have made inquiries about participating in a spay study ongoing at the Veterinary Clinical Investigations Center. From their Facebook page: "The VCIC is offering free spay surgery for a study evaluating fluid therapy during anesthesia. Call 215-573-0302 for more information!" We'll see if Drama qualifies, and if I can work out making the trip down.


Burton sits on a chair as Vulcan & Drama  eagerly await dinner Monday, March 14 Drama weighed in at 96.6 pounds on Saturday. She looks great. The fur has almost completely grown back from where she was shaved for the amputation. Her coat is glossy and soft. As important as it is to keep her slim, she is at the perfect weight. She is being fed a combination of Taste of the Wild and Iams Premium Protection. I think she'd eat sawdust if I offered it!

I had brought a fecal sample into work last week; a hookworm egg or two were found. She's getting dosed with Panacur, and I had another sample sent out to the lab to verify that hookworms are the only parasite being harbored. While I'm glad there were not many eggs found in the sample, I'm frustrated with myself that I didn't do this basic test earlier. I have her on Heartgard for her monthly heartworm preventative; these do help with parasite infestations but do not replace deworming.

She is such a happy dog! Her tail wags painfully against me when she bounces out of her pen to greet me in the morning. When I let her back in, she races up the stairs and runs across the house to the living room. She would barrel around with Vulcan if I allowed it, but I try to keep things calm and gate her apart for meal time. First Paige and Gator get fed, then Vulcan, and finally Drama. She has "sit" down pat, and sits-then-bounces, sits-then-bounces into the computer room.

A week and a half ago while I was at work, she and Paige had a little tiff over one of the dividing gates. At this point they are now double-gated apart. I'm hoping most of it was related to Drama's heat cycle. At the same time, I know Paige will Gator lays  behind her as Drama pretends the cat food bowl is not between her front legsgo for her if the excitement level is too high (the dogs start playing, someone comes to the door). I'm taking baby steps to get them to be civil with each other. They get treats for looking at each other and not barking/growling, or if they reach to sniff with low-wagging tails. I've been having Paige back on the couch with me at night, leashed, and allowing Drama to be in the living room at the same time. I am keeping the coffee table between them as a buffer.

I've discovered Drama needs to work on her manners with new dogs coming into our house. She is initially a little mouthy with them, although some of this may have been from being in her heat cycle (I am hoping). Burton, a large Golden Retriever that stays with us at times, met her as we were coming out the front door. She growled and mouthed him a little. They have met before, and Drama listened when I told her to knock it off. Now that the weather is getting nicer, I want to get her out more and expose her to new dogs, people, and places. I think she is finally ready for that.

All I need now is for Drama's family to realize that they are missing the wonderful three-legged companion that will make their home complete. She has a few quirks and rough edges, but she is so easy to work with. She is affectionate, sometimes clingy, active and playful, and a real cuddle-bug. Won't you come get your dog? Drama wants a home to call her own.


Drama stands holding the toy chicken by the legTuesday, March 15 Drama attended her first training class this morning. The car ride alone made her nervous; she shifted frequently while we were on the highway and curvy mountain roads. She has decided that getting her into the Outback should be my job, and reluctantly allows me to pick her up and heave her in (no easy feat with the ankle I twisted last Sunday).

Once at Raspberry Ridge, Drama hopped right out and gamely investigated the area. She had a slight problem with the stairs going into the facility, but treats encouraged her up. We spent the majority of the hour getting Drama relaxed enough to focus on me. The relaxed atmosphere if this class is just what Drama needs. I'll be working with her a lot at home, and have the added benefit of being motivated to work with the other dogs, too. I don't expect to ever be able to have Drama and Paige in the same room, but hopefully I can defuse the situation a bit. My main objective with the classes is to teach Drama that she has the confidence to deal with stressful situations (i.e. meeting men).

Yesterday afternoon I received the fecal sample results that were sent off on Saturday. Antech found no giardia or ova/parasite eggs in the sample. I'm going to continue with the Panacur anyway.

Regarding stairs: Drama has no problem at all with the two carpeted sets of seven stairs that are inside. She hops up and down them! Drama has not even tried climbing up the open wooden stairs from our back yard to the kitchen ever since she got stuck part way up in early December. She can fly right down them, though; especially if she sees a squirrel in the yard!


Saturday, March 26. I've been reading MAGDRL orphan adoption notices recently and feel my heart constrict. A small part of me whispers thanks; I've fallen in love with this dog. The majority of me wonders why not one person has made a serious inquiry for this beautiful animal. I know I cannot keep her; my job is to love her dearly then turn her over to the family who will adore her more than I can imagine.

Drama is FUN. She is full of life, surges with energy but curls up to snuggle before you can say her name. She is sweet and loving, and so very smart! She enjoys other dogs (Paige being the exception) and is wonderful with my cats.

Drama is completely housebroken. She walks well on a leash and is happy to follow house rules once she knows what they are. She does not climb up on our furniture, although she would be thrilled to be allowed the privilege. She rides well in the car, but does need some help getting in. She is eager to meet new people - and here is where her issue is: she is fearful of men. If you would watch her lean against my husband, or curl up next to my son, you would understand how transient that black mark is.

Class #2 was Tuesday. The light bulb went on for Drama. "Oh, you want me to make eye contact? You want me to sustain it? You want me to sit? Do you want me to sit here? Or here? Or here????"

This is a class where we work on getting and maintaining our dog's attention and having Drama offer behaviors. Drama does not interact with the other two dogs in class; I'm here to teach her to focus on me. I want her to learn to look to her person when she is uneasy, hopefully she will begin to build up her confidence with the behaviors she is being taught. If I were able to keep her, I would eventually want to get her into a class atmosphere where she does interact with her classmates; hopefully that will be something her new family will enjoy doing.


Drama obviously enjoys her training class!

Thursday, March 31, 2011. It's that time of the morning when the dogs have had their breakfast and are on forced quiet-time. We follow a strict protocol of no running around for an hour after breakfast. I need time to wake up, and I don't want to risk anyone bloating.

The brat-cat doesn't always cooperate; she thinks it's great fun to leap the gates and race through the house. The other evening she was hiding beneath the couch. All I could see was her little white paw sticking out. Drama walked by and was startled by Ocelot grabbing her around the leg. She jumped away, then went right back to see why the couch bit her. She and Oce spent a few minutes playing before the cat had enough and retreated.

Fran Dickenshied Kramer was kind enough to take pictures of Drama at our class this Tuesday. She remarked how much more relaxed Drama was. It's true. Drama knows the way from the car to the classroom and trots happily with me in tow. She says a brief hi to Fran then continues on with a few sniffs to her spot. We work behind "our" hay bails, constructed to block distractions from view. The first class Drama refused to stay inside her area; she wanted only to be next to me. Skip to trip #3 and we find Drama happily making eye contact with me. One of the barn cats discovers that I have a plentiful supply of diced hot-dogs and meatballs; Drama glances at the begging cat a few times but concentrates on me. Success! Drama again does well when we are out working on the floor. She knows "sit" quite well and is working on "down." Her leash manners have never been faulty; she prefers to stay nearby as we walk.



Trying to lure Drama into a down Drama sits and maintains eye contact with me













Drama isn't ready to go to Petsmart, even during their quiet times, but that is one of my goals. I also need to have some more men come over and work with Drama through her fear of them. I feel like I'm pimping: "Excuse me, do you like big dogs? Are you comfortable around them? Care to come up to my house and meet a wonderful dog who needs to discover that men bring good things?"


Drama chases visitng Shepherd ZiggySaturday, May 7 April showers showed that Drama does NOT like the rain and can hold her bladder for quite a while. May flowers have her happily running around the back yard, happy just to be alive. For her, that is something to be thankful for: The shelter could have put her to sleep instead of reaching out for help after her owners would not step up to reclaim her.

The photo next to this shows Drama playing with a 16-month old German Shepherd Dog. Ziggy is also a member of Pocono Guiding Pups and is being raised for The Seeing Eye®, just like our Vulcan. He and Drama were introduced out in my driveway. Drama was a little growly upon meeting him, but quickly settled down and realized that there was another playmate for her! Drama might do well as an only dog, but I still feel that an energetic playmate would be the best thing to pair her up with. She does like to play hard, and grabs Vulcan by the scruff as they're running. I'm trying to teach her to pick up a toy instead of hard-mouthing like that. Paige learned it; I'm sure she can.

When Ziggy's raiser came to get him, Drama, Vulcan, Ziggy, & I were all out in the back yard. Drama spotted Mark and began barking at him. The dogs had all been revved up from a heavy session of running and playing. Drama would trot up to Mark, sniff, bark, run off barking, then start all over again.

We had company Easter Sunday, two adult women, an adult man, and a teenage boy. Christian had joined us the night before to spend time with Matt; Drama did not react to him at all and acted as if he had always been here. When Susan and Bart knocked and walked in, Drama ran to see who was entering. Bart walked up and said hi to Drama, petting her. She leaned against him and didn't bark at all! When Lorna joined us shortly after she walked in without knocking; there was a bark or two and that was it. The part I could not get over was how Drama was glued to Bart. He had told me that dogs love him, and he wasn't kidding! I wish that his living arrangements would have allowed him to have a dog; Drama was in love.

So, out of several introductions to men, there was one where Drama had no fear at all. I knew there was hope, but it was still nice to see that. We start our second session of training classes this coming week. Let's see what we accomplish this time ... 

Drama sleeps after being spayedThursday, April 21st:Tuesday the 12th of April was spay day for Drama. The vet clinic I work at directs people to pick up food by 6 p.m. the night before surgery; access to water is fine as long as it's not excessive. Drama was not happy that the other dogs and cats were given breakfast, she kept trying to show me that I had forgotten her! Poor pup.

We arrived at Canadensis Veterinary Clinic at the scheduled 8:45 a.m. Drama weighed in at 99.6 pounds. After pre-sedation I brought her downstairs to our surgery suite. I thought I would help get her up on the table and then leave, but I was allowed to stay for the entire procedure. It took about an hour; there were no complications. As we do for all post-ops, I trimmed Drama's nails and cleaned her ears. She was also microchipped.

I sat on the floor with Drama until she was awake enough to lift her head and be somewhat aware of her surroundings. I helped get her into a cage for the rest of her recovery, then left for a few hours. I wanted to make sure her crate/pen area were nice and clean, plus had to go grocery shopping. When I came back at 2 p.m. she was groggy but mobile. A coworker helped get her into my car. Back home we went.

I'll say at this point that our normal procedure at CVC is to keep surgeries like that overnight. I was confident in my ability to monitor Drama and cope with any issues that might come up. If there had been any complications during/after her spay, I would not have brought her home.

Drama hopped right into her pen and into her crate. She curled up into a ball and fell asleep. I checked on her frequently. That evening I brought her upstairs with me once she had gone to the bathroom. She would lay on the crib mattress by the fireplace, mutter and moan, then come lay by the couch. Finally she found a comfortable position and snoozed some more.

Besides a little bit of vomiting, things were uneventful overnight. She was not interested in food at all, but did not seem in pain. As long as she was comfortable remaining in her pen downstairs, I let her nap without the other animals distracting her. When she wanted to be with me, I brought her upstairs. She spent most of the day on the crib mattress. When she still didn't want dinner, I started experimenting with a few tempting foods: I didn't want her stomach getting any more upset from the anesthesia the day before and not having anything in it. The winning combination was canned dog food topped with potato chips. Yuck!Drama wears feathered necklaces

From that point on, the main issue has been keeping Drama "quiet." We tell people not to allow their dogs to run or jump for two weeks post spay/neuter; we also ask they leash walk only. Drama won't potty on leash, so I directed her to the kennel run that's in our back yard. With her missing leg, this dog does not walk. She trots or gallops. Despite her noncompliance with post-op directions, Drama's incision is healing wonderfully.

Nine days post-spay, Drama is getting quite frustrated that I will not let her romp with Vulcan. I have been letting her out to play briefly in the yard; she'll grab a toy and run, her head high. I only allow her a few short minutes of this; thankfully she comes right to me when I call her. Her incision looks wonderful, so I feel I'm balancing letting her heal with letting her exercise minimally.

I asked my hubby if he'd mind me signing Drama up for another session of classes. Jim asked if they were doing Drama any good. "Definitely!" Were the classes helping me? "Yes, it's getting me out doing something I truly enjoy." Jim asked what the question was, then. Considering Drama's not our dog and the classes are $175 (quite reasonable) I'm lucky to be able to do this for her. She does focus on me much more (that all-important eye contact), sits beautifully, downs with little prompting, and walks well on leash. She comes when called, but her impulse-control leaves "stay" needing more work. She knows what "back up" means, along with "drop it" and "give."

So, Thursday morning, April 21st finds me typing up Drama's update. She is romping around behind me, grabbing toys out of the milk crate and running into the living room with them. I've retrieved my slippers from her and conceded that the left one has been chewed on a tad too much; it's time for me to replace them. Drama's puppiness makes her adorable, but it also shows why I supervise her and pen her up when I leave the house! She is a very curious dog and likes to explore with her mouth.

Drama is truly ready to be adopted now: she is current on her vaccines, heartworm/lyme tested and on monthly preventative (I will be donating a six month supply of the 51-100 pound Heartgard), spayed and microchipped.

We're ready to head off to classSunday, May 29 It's good to be back taking classes again. We've had private lessons the last two weeks. Drama was very nervous this past Tuesday; we had to walk past two men who were hammering on the next building. That set the stage for her to be very jumpy and reactive to sounds. She even rumbled at Fran when she came in to start class; it took a few minutes to get her to relax enough to pay any attention to me at all. Her body language is so easy to read; it is easy to tell she is stressed when you look at her demeanor and how her brow wrinkles and shouts, "I am worried!"

She enjoys when we take walks and gets very excited when I get out her pink harness. At the same time, it's a nervous excitement: she does a lot of open-mouth panting and starts off glued to my side. The further we walk, the more she relaxes and is willing to explore a little. The picture that is next to this is a good example of that open-mouth panting that Drama does when she is nervous. If you look, you can see that her ears are back apprehensively, and her forehead is wrinkled.

Drama had a busy Saturday last week. We started off in the later morning with a walk. If we turn right out of my driveway, we walk to the bottom of our road and end up in some woods. If I turn right, we end up on a busy road. I've brought Drama close to this road before, but have always turned around when she refuses to approach the traffic. It's obvious that automobiles scare her, and not surprising since she lost her leg to one.

We only had to walk a short distance on this road before ending up in a parking lot. The following was a lesson in what NOT to do: I waited until there were no cars coming towards us and encouraged Drama to walk with me. This might have worked, had there been no traffic zipping by in the other lane. As it was, Drama balked several times. We ended up having a few cars pass us, which added to Drama's stress. I was able to propel her forward and into the parking lot She had no Drama  nibbles on the stuffed m & m toy  between her feetinterest in the treats I had brought with me, and although they were soft, tasty rewards, they weren't high value enough (like chicken or steak) to make it worth opening her mouth. We walked away from the road and up towards the building. She flopped down in the grass and refused to move.

What was supposed to be a fun walk for her was instead a scary trip. I debated calling my children and asking them to drive my car down to the roadway. They could then walk over, hold Drama, and I'd drive the car around to us (both my kids have permits, but not their license). I wasn't comfortable doing that, and wasn't about to make Drama walk back out on the road. I gave her a few minutes, getting her to the point where she was interested in eating the treats I offered. This time she stood up when told and continued on with me. We walked through the parking lot, safely away from the noisy autos, and continued to a road that lead away from the cars. As the scary sounds faded and woods surrounded us on both sides, Drama relaxed enough to stop panting and start sniffing at what we walked by. She froze when a chipmunk darted into a hiding spot, cocking her head and trying to decide whether she should pounce or keep walking. We even saw a fox down the road from us; it stood and watched us for a few seconds before darting into the trees.

We got home and took two calls from friends asking to come up. Christine and Paul arrived first; Drama greeted them at the door with a few soft "wuffs" and lots of tail wags. She weaved between them, leaning against Chris for pets. She even leaned on Paul a little, until she realized he was a man. She backed away and barked a little, but happily approached for treats. We were upstairs chatting, giving Drama lots of attention, when Cathy and Robin joined us. I took turns letting Paige come out and say hi, and having Drama with us. All the dogs acted like they'd never seen company before and had never been taught to have manners.

Drama kept a close eye on Paul, never completely relaxing. She was most comfortable when he remained sitting on the couch; she would rumble and move away when he tried to sit on the floor with her. Comparing this to the way she used to bark nonstop and flee the room when a man entered, she's come a long way. There's still a lot of progress to be made. I was so glad everyone stopped by; I enjoyed the company and appreciated getting to see how Drama reacted to new people.


Vulcan & Drama lie on each side of me  on a trip to the fire stationTuesday, May 31 Drama had her first outing last night. My husband wanted to take our son and daughter down to the fire station to practice their parallel parking. It was around 7:30, a time when there wasn't going to be many if any other firefighters at the station. The building itself is far enough from the road where Drama wouldn't have to cope with traffic, yet close enough that she could see and hear the cars go by. Vulcan joined us.

We took a walk on the road behind the station and then just wandered from the one grassy area to another. I let Drama decide where we were going and how fast. She was a bit nervous with our car as the kids slowly circled around for another practice run, but by the time they finished at 9 p.m., she was laying on the dog bed beside my chair panting more from the heat than from stress. The fact she would take treats from me and drink water from the bowl was further proof that she was more relaxed than on that stressful walk we took a few Saturday's ago.

She followed Vulcan into the fire station a few times. It helped that she wanted to see where he was going and was able to focus on him instead of the strange new surroundings. She was even willing to walk much closer to the road than I expected her to.

Shortly before we left, one of the volunteers stopped by to catch up on some paperwork. Drama rumbled a little bit but was more curious than fearful. She approached several times, even allowing him to pet her head and give her a couple of treats before she'd circle away from him. In all, it was a perfect outing for her.


Gator & Drama in the back of the carSunday, June 26 Last Thursday my son and I piled Drama and Gator into my car to run a few errands. Our first stop was at Tractor Supply, to pick up a few bags of "Taste of the Wild" while it was on sale. I figured that the late-morning visit would find the store fairly empty, which would be perfect for Drama's first trip to a store. Our timing was sensational!

While Matt loaded the bags of dog food into the cart, one of the employees stopped by to say hi to Drama. She rumbled a little bit at him, then backed away. We chatted for a minute while Drama watched the exchange; the young man said hi to Gator and petted him. Next two women came over to say hi. Drama was all tail wags and butt wiggles, leaning up against both. One even asked for my card; I hope she reads this and knows how much I appreciate her making this experience a good one for Drama!

We made our way up to the cash register. Drama walked right up to the clerk, who was the same man she had grumbled at minutes ago. She took a treat out of his hand, then turned and stepped over to the register next to us. Another man stood there, and she nonchalantly took a biscuit from him, too! A man and a woman entered the store, saw Drama, and exclaimed how pretty she was. Drama started to go over, stopped, then moved towards the woman. When I handed the man a few of Drama's tasty treats, she took them from him then stepped back. It was the perfect outing for her: quick and positive!

Our next step was a thrift store. I stayed outside with the dogs while Matt went in. There were landscapers working that Drama kept an eye on, but they didn't appear to bother her much. She settled with Gator and waited until we could make our way home.

I've never given Drama a high-value chew and left her with another dog. Last Saturday I made the poor decision to do so as I was walking out the door; I'd paired her up with Gator again. My daughter was in the other room and heard a commotion. Apparently Drama and Gator decided to have it out over the last piece of bully stick; Chelsea said that Drama had Gator by the neck and was shaking him. Thankfully he only had two small scrapes on his neck, and Drama had one under her chin. Yet another reminder of why I always feed separately and normally don't leave dogs alone when I hand out things for them to chew on!

I wouldn't go as far as marking Drama "no small dogs," because she and Gator normally do very well together. I would hesitate to adopt her to someone who isn't willing to use more care than I did that Saturday. Don't leave two strong-minded dogs alone in a room with a really good treat!

Drama has huge eyes as the copes with the little Shih Tzu mixSunday, July 3, 2011 We have a little visitor here for a few days. A little old Shih Tzu mix was found running in traffic on Rt. 611 several weeks ago. Despite efforts from my coworkers at the vet clinic to find his family, no one has shown up. One of the doctors at the clinic will hopefully be adopting "Freeway" when he returns next week; in the mean time I offered to let the dog stay here. Drama was very inquisitive about him, but also very respectful when her sniffing and prodding him earned a ferocious growl and a snap from the nearly toothless guy. As I type this Freeway is sprawled out on the crib mattress in the computer room, Drama is laying on the floor next to me because he won't share her bed with her. [Rather opposite of this photo, where Drama is on the crib mattress and Freeway stands on the carpeting.]

It's thundering out, which isn't affecting Drama. She still isn't crazy about going out in the rain, but her housetraining does overcome the reluctance; she'll trot right out first thing in the morning. Our neighbors have been amazingly quiet with the fireworks this year, so I can't accurately gauge how bothered she is by that noise. The holiday weekend isn't over yet, and I may well have an update about that after tonight or Monday evening!

Drama's buddy Vulcan returned to The Seeing Eye® on Tuesday. I know she must miss playing with him, because she and that Golden boy were always together. She has been much more demanding of attention since he's gone; I'm sure a lot of it is lack of exercise. The two enjoyed their moments of playing freeze tag in the back yard. This does support my thought that Drama would do better in a home with another big dog to rough-house with, although I certainly would consider an only-dog placement if it seemed like the right place for her.


Drama and puppy Madison lay  closes, eye-to-eyeJuly 24 Three weeks ago, Drama's Golden Retriever buddy returned to The Seeing Eye to start his formal training. On July 15, our newest trainee arrived. Madison is a male German Shepherd born May 27, 2011.

Drama has been incredibly good with the baby. We have to frequently remind her to be gentle with him, but she is learning that she has to lay on the floor and not leap at him joyfully. She will roll on her back and nudge him around with her nose. She likes to steal any toy that he's playing with, then tease him with it.

She'll rumble at him when she's chewing on a bone, then move her head against him and nudge him with it. Although she isn't freezing or displaying any body language that tells us she's being protective of the old bone, we're still trying to teach Madison to leave her alone. We're also reminding Drama to get up and move.

Drama truly seems to enjoy the puppy. She must miss Vulcan; the two of them would race around the yard and spend all the time the could playing together.

My in-laws came to visit the same weekend Madison arrived. For once we had to repeatedly call Drama away from my father-in-law, who isn't an animal person. She barked at him once or twice when she was gated in another room, but otherwise kept trying to go up and get him to pay attention to her. It was interesting to see her so relaxed around a man she had never met before.

There are several pictures of Drama interacting with Madison on my facebook page.

Drama walked past puppy Madison with a stuffed toy in her mouthAugust 7 Drama has been doing exceptionally well with the new Seeing Eye pup. Madison is 10 weeks old now; he's been here for three weeks. Drama excels at taking toys away from him, then giving him a slight rumble when he tries to steal them back. She'll flounce over, grab whatever he's chewing on, and shake it right in his face before trouncing off with him in pursuit (or sitting, looking baffled). Drama will come back and lay in front of Madison, the very tip of her tail slapping a beat on the floor. She loves when I have them in the back yard together; she gets the zoomies and zips around him. Madison has learned to dive into the old kid's climbing cube where he won't be trampled by her three feet. He'll dart out and try to follow her, then charge back to safety when she circles back and sees him.

We've reached the eight month mark for Drama having lived with us. As much as I love her, I'm not happy about the anniversary. She deserves a permanent home, not a foster home that is marking the days and weeks that she's been present. She needs a placement that does not have her living with another Great Dane that will attack her. I know that home is out there. Please, come get your girl. She's breaking my heart.

Thursday, July 28 was a typical evening here. My son and daughter were watching TV with me. Drama was curled up on the crib mattress, and Paige was leaning against me on the couch, leash on. I got up to take Paige out of the room; she lunged at Drama and yanked the lead right out of my hands. Paige bit Drama on the rump and tail twice before we were able to get her off the poor dog. Drama had done nothing to provoke the attack other than being there.

Paige is not a bad dog, any more than Drama is. I've begged for help, pleaded for someone to please step up so Drama is safe and Paige can return to having full run of her house. I hate the thought of Drama going to another foster home; she needs her people that will love her and work with her to come adopt her. Drama's wounds are healing well, and we are taking even more care to make sure that Paige and Drama are completely separated. We can't keep living like this; it's not fair to either dog, or to us. Isn't it time Drama can stop being on guard and relax in her own home?

August 14, 2011 Drama had a field trip to the vet yesterday. Thursday I noticed she was yelping. I'd hear her yipe in the other room; she'd come running to me. This happens with her sometimes, if she lays on a pointy toy or wags her tail hard against something and startles herself. Friday evening she was vocalizing a little more; come Saturday and she was making a screaming-bark every time she got up, and crying as she trotted over to me.

It's very difficult to tell if a three-legged dog is limping! Her gait was no different, and she was willing to run out in the yard with the puppy. I could not feel or see anything abnormal with her foot, pad, or leg; and her spine did not seem to be sensitive. One of the things I have learned from working for a vet is that it is always better to follow that gut feeling and seek help, even if you're unsure whether an animal needs to be seen.

There was a father and daughter in the waiting room when we arrived; a cage with a gerbil was between them. I put Drama on the scale (she weighs 101 pounds now!) then sat with Drama to my left and the other clients to my right. Drama walked over to sniff the man, bumping his hand when he stopped petting her. She was nervous, tail low and wagging slightly. She let the little girl say hi, and was very interested in the little gray creature running on the wheel in the cage! The little girl took it out and was going to show Drama when her Dad stopped her. I was relieved; I think Drama would have thought she was being offered a snack!

Drama got to say hi to another man when a couple I know stopped by the clinic. Her tail wagged slightly when Paul said hi to her. She quickly realized there was a basket of dog treats on the receptionist's window; she'd look from them to Paul until he gave her a treat. She later did the same thing with the jar of treats in the room. She can sniff out food and certainly remembers where it is!

Dr. Bell noted that Drama's belly was very tense, and she did turn her head when her leg, belly, and spine were touched. It was hard to tell whether Drama was looking to see why this person was touching her all over, or whether she was reacting to being painful. Her temperature was slightly higher than normal for her, but likely elevated due to the stress of being at the clinic. The Lyme/Heartworm/Ehrlichia test came back negative. We left with Tramadol for pain and a few cans if I/D (bland food). Drama slept the rest of the day away, curled up comfortably on the crib mattress in the computer room or bed in the living room. This morning finds her laying on the floor playing with the puppy. I'll be restricting her activity level and keeping her on the Tramadol for a few days; if her symptoms continue we'll return for further bloodwork and evaluation.

August 29, 2011This morning Drama was removed from our house and transported to a foster-to-adopt couple. They seem like a wonderful home, but I was very upset about several important policies AND my input being ignored by my coordinators.

This was not how I thought she would be leaving my house. I had believed it would be with her wagging her tail happily, like so many other foster dogs have done. The look on Drama's face when I helped her into the car broke my heart; she was so fearful and confused.

I wrote up a two-page letter trying to give the best info to help Drama settle in; that was included in a cd that I copied all of Drama’s pictures and videos onto. I packed up a year’s worth of 51-100 pound Heartgard for her. Drama’s goodbye bag also held some of her favorite indoor toys and a gallon baggie of her Taste of the Wild. One of her blankets and two of her favorite outdoor toys were sent along also. Her favorite squeaky chicken that she loved to run around with also left with her, as well as her crate.

I miss her more than I imagined possible.

It's enough that I have resigned as a MAGDRL volunteer and will never recommend the group to anyone looking to adopt or rehome a Dane. As wonderful as the PA volunteers that I met are, the fact that the other coordinators and board turned a blind eye to the lies and anti-procedures of the PA coordinator speaks volumes. When there is no accountability, are the decisions truly being made for what is best for the dog?

December 4, 2011 A year ago (tomorrow) marks the year anniversary of the arrival of Drama. Would I have agreed to foster this tripawed Dane if I had known it would mean the end of my 12 years of working with MAGDRL?

Utimately, yes, I would chose to go through the tears to experience the love and joy from that wonderful dog. It has only been a little over three months since she was yanked from our home, but the force of her memories will remain.

It is ironic how "just a dog" can affect a life so completely. I believe that is a secret that animal lovers hold: it is never just an animal, but a life force that teaches and molds and makes us better human beings.

Drama, I hope this next year finds you pain free and content. I pray your foster-to-adopt family proves me wrong in my fears, which were never truly against them: only railing against the PA coordinators blatently forgoing the normal procedures to ensure their charges would be going to the families that were best suited for them. Mid-Atlantic Great Dane Rescue League, for shame for not standing behind this sensational dog. Drama, be the dog I know you are and show the world what they are missing by not living with a Great Dane.

For more photos of Drama, visit her pictures on my facebook page: Drama on facebook.