I am a dog person. I always have been. Having a dog gives me comfort and companionship on a level that I find very satisfying. We had been without a dog in the house for about two and a half years and I was starting to get antsy.
Mr. Aggie and I bonded early in our relationship over our mutual love of Great Danes. Neither of us had ever had one, but we are “big dog” people and the Great Dane is just such a loving, majestic breed. This is where I started to feel conflicted. Our three previous dogs were rescued from the SPCA. I feel VERY strongly in rescue because there are so many dogs who need a good home.
I decided to look into the Great Dane Rescue of North Texas. Their process is very strict and they have it down to a science. If you think any Joe-Shmo is going to walk away with a Great Dane from that group, you are seriously mistaken. First was the application fee and the very thorough application and background check. Next, a phone interview with one of the adoption coordinators. (Code: we need to make sure you’re not a total freak!) Then, came a home visit with one of their representatives. (AKA: we need to make sure you are who you say you are and you live where you say you do.) And if, and yes I mean IF, you pass all of these “tests,” you will then be matched with three potential dogs. You will then have a “meet and greet” with the dog, their current foster parent, the GDRNT representative and your WHOLE family, kids included. At that point, every single person has to agree that this is the dog for you and you want to adopt. If the foster doesn’t like you, you’re out. If you aren’t 100% sure about the dog, it’s over. If everybody agrees, then you go home with a dog!! It was a very stressful process, but Toths are always up to the challenge!
Of the three dogs presented as potential matches for our family, we chose to meet Megara, who was known as Meg. This was a tough choice for me. Meg was 5-6 years old, which for a Great Dane, is very solidly middle age … if not more. There was a big part of us that loved the idea of not having to go through the “puppy” stage with a younger dog. Cleaning up pee stains in the carpet in my new house did NOT sound appealing. I also love the idea of giving an older dog a really fantastic life for his/her remaining years. Yes, you can translate that to SPOIL THEM ROTTEN!
So, on the last Sunday in August, four very nervous Toths got in the car to go meet Meg. We were hoping she would be the girl for us. The gigantic crate had been purchased and my 3- and 5-year-old boys had lovingly chosen a gaggle of toys for our new dog to come home to. We were ready!
I can’t tell you exactly what my three men were thinking, but for me it was love at first sight. Meg was my girl. I just knew it. She was calm and affectionate. She was a little tentative, but curious about us. She didn’t jump on the kids or scare them in the least. She was amazing and I wanted her. We talked about all the things we needed to know about her and we took her on a walk. She was such a good girl and I could tell she would make a wonderful addition to our family. So then came the hard part … figuring out whether all parties felt the same way. It was pretty clear to everyone that this was a great match and Meg would soon be a Toth!
We signed tons of paperwork that let us know what the Great Dane Rescue of North Texas expected from us as adoptive parents. We asked questions and we took our first family photo. Meg was ours!
On the way home, the first debate happened. It had been decided by the children that if we got a girl, her name would be Stella. Well, Princess Stella to be exact. But Little A (3) wasn’t sure about that now. He thought Meg was a good name and was NOT keen on changing it. But democracy ruled and by the time we arrived home 30 minutes later, we were all certain that she should be Stella.
I am still in awe of how quickly Stella adapted to our family. We showed her the back door and told her this was where she goes to potty. We never had to tell her again and she has yet to have an accident in the house. She knows where her food is when she wants it and has a deep, deep love of her four (yes, four) beds scattered throughout the house. Stella is a “Velcro Dane,” which is basically a term to indicate that she is stuck to her humans like Velcro. She loves, loves, LOVES us and wants to be with us as much as possible … touching us if she can get away with it. She’s a big “leaner.”
The only disagreement we have had with Stella is that she thinks human beds and couches are also for Great Danes. Other than that, she’s been perfect. I mean P-E-R-F-E-C-T! We could not have asked for a better dog. Even Mr. Aggie said to me “She’s the dog we always wanted, but never got.” At 95 pounds, Stella is actually considered a Teacup Dane, which basically means that she’s petite and under 100 lbs. Teacup, yeah right. A 95-lb dog is still a force to be reckoned with, but she’s as gentle as a kitten.
Big A dotes on her whenever possible. He would be perfectly happy if she slept with him at night, but we don’t allow that for now. Stella is most definitely a mama’s girl, so she never likes to be too far from me. Little A isn’t as sure about Stella, but he does love her a lot. More than anything, her size makes him a little nervous. And he chooses to avoid the huge tongue and sloppy kisses she doles out. She is a lover, for sure!
Stella is loved by everyone who meets her. She comes with us to cheer on the sidelines of Big A’s soccer games every Saturday. She gives kisses and waits to be petted by everyone. She has yet to meet anybody she doesn’t love and the feeling is mutual.
There are definitely challenges to be faced with rescuing an older dog. You don’t always know what you’re up against, but with a group like the GDRNT, you are dealing with a situation in which the dog has been fostered by one of their own and they can give you as much information about the dog as possible. Even if you love a certain breed, get on the internet and see if there are any rescue groups in your area. There are SO MANY dogs who need good homes – even purebreds.
Stella had a rough life before she became a Toth. She was bred over and over again by a “backyard breeder” until she could no longer have puppies. Because she could no longer generate income for her jerk of an owner, he dumped her. Yes, DUMPED her like trash. She was picked up by Fort Worth Animal Control as a stray. They immediately realized she was a purebred Great Dane and called the GDRNT to come get her. Stella had heartworms and was underweight. Her rescuers treated her for heartworms in May and she is 100% heartworm free now. When they had her spayed, her uterus was so used and abused that the vet opted for a total hysterectomy. You can take one look at Stella and know that she was a wonderful mommy to her pups. She is so maternal and loving. She never received dental care, so her breath smelled like a trash can full of rotten fish. We remedied that very quickly with a full dental cleaning by our amazing vet. Now getting kisses from Stella isn’t gag-worthy!
I’m so glad we rescued Stella, but in some ways I feel like she rescued us. She has taught my boys to be gentle and affectionate and they love helping take care of her. I don’t know how long we have with Stella, but we will spoil her rotten for the rest of her life. She is simply amazing and we are lucky to be her family.
Princess Stella Toth, welcome to the family! We love you, sweet girl!