Our Gentle Giants

The story of two Floridians and their foster Great Danes

August 14th, 2014

Lake Baldwin Dog Park

By Tara

My current goal in life is to get as much exposure to gentle giants as possible. Not just for education reasons, but also because OMFG I LOVE THEM WHY DON’T I KNOW ANYONE WHO OWNS ONE?

I’ve been frequenting two websites in search of big dog events. One is the Great Dane Love rescue and the other is a meetup.com group called Central Florida Big Dog Group.

Last time the meetup group had a meetup, it randomly rained monsooned outside so it was canceled.

Last Sunday, they had a meetup at a dog park next to Lake Baldwin in Winter Park (suburb of Orlando).

Roxie and I went. And dudes, this park was AMAZING. It wasn’t a “fenced-in yard” type of dog park. It was gloriously better. Check out the sketch below to get an idea of what it looked like.


The whole area is fenced in and is 23 acres. There is a dog washing station, a huge field with big trees, and of course, a shore on Lake Baldwin. There is also a wooded, forest-y area to the side where you can walk your dog.


I’m not sure how many dogs were there but I think it’s safe to say there were at least 50. There were a few big dogs, notably a Harlequin Great Dane. I didn’t get a chance to talk to her owner, but that didn’t stop me from staring.

That dog was so graceful. I know that Great Danes are generally clumsy and goofy dogs, but this one was prancing as if she was on clouds. It was gorgeous.


Now Roxie. She had a freaking BLAST. She went nuts when we first arrived and was sniffing the ground like crazy. It was as if she was trying to take in the scent of every blade of grass all at once. Once she noticed the water, she sprinted.


She made it her first order of business to find the muddiest spot and roll in it. She went so far as to eat it at one point. And no, she didn’t do it once and was done. This is all she did the entire time. And guys, it smelled so bad. It really smelled like horse manure. Poo+mud is gross.


I kept a close eye on her, but since I get overwhelmed and excited at dog parks, I wasn’t watching her like a hawk. I was in awe of how many dogs were there and what a good time they were having and once I saw the Dane, I was unable to look away.


I noticed Roxie headed to the other end of the shore and was rolling around in there. Not a big deal, I thought, and I looked away. Then I realized that the wooded area was there. It was very forest-y with a lot of trees and bushes. I wondered if it was fenced-in, because if it wasn’t, Roxie would definitely run off.

I quickly scanned the park and couldn’t find Roxie. Dammit, she must have gone in there. I booked it and asked some nice ladies right outside that section if it’s fenced-in. They said yes it is, and that people take their dogs for walks in that trail. I proceeded to walk in, calling Roxie’s name. It was huge back there and I felt like I would never find her.

After about 10 minutes of searching, I decided to go back to the open grass area. Maybe she was out there and I overlooked her. I exit and immediately see her happily strutting along. Dang dog. I called her name and she excitedly looked for me. When she saw me, she dashed towards me and greeted me like we hadn’t seen each other in years. I love this freakin’ dog.

She rolled around in some poo+mud some more and I decided it was time to go. I leashed her and headed to the dog washing station. It was pretty neat (I forgot to take a picture). There was a raised, long table where you would set your dog and a hose with a cool spray nozzle at the end for you to rinse your dog. There were 4 of these stations. Once we got to a station, I started rinsing her off. She smelled so nasty, but she had a good time so I was fine with it.

I’m rinsing away when I notice that the other owners had shampoo. “Hm, that would have been a good idea”, I thought. I figured I’d dry her off when we got to the car and give her a quick bath once we got home, which was an hour away.

We got in the car and I drove for 15 minutes before I decided that I would be dead due to the stench of horse manure by the end of the trip. I pulled over, found the nearest Petsmart, and made an appointment for a bath.


I dropped her off and they said it would take 2 hours. There was a rescue group there with a million kittens, some puppies, and a few dogs, so I hung out with them for a bit. There were two really sad pitbulls in kennels and nobody was looking at them. I asked a volunteer if  I could take one out and pet her for a while and she was more than happy to oblige. We talked for a while about her story. She was so, so sweet and grateful for the love.

Still had an hour and a half to kill. I thought back to my post about how to raise a puppy on a budget and decided to go hunting for clearance items.

I found a huuuuuge pet feeder at an awesome price! 12lb tank for $11.57. SCORE!



The problem is is that Christian and I don’t want to free feed our pets. Roxie and Mia wouldn’t be able to control themselves and it would be fair to the new dog if we let them free feed and not the other pets. But we did want a giant waterer, so I figured I could use this for that.

Problem: the hole where the goods are dispensed is large and won’t work for water. I have a brilliant plan to fix that and will share that with you in another post.

I went to purchase the feeder and met an English Mastiff named Shiba! She was so sweet. I asked her owner if I could pet her/if she was friendly (which you should always ask when it comes to strange dogs!) and she said, “If she’ll let you!”. Apparently, Shiba is a rescue and she’s a little skittish around strangers.


Shiba is 3 years old and they’ve had her since she was a puppy. Her owner said that she has gotten a lot better since when they first got her, but she’ll likely always be overly weary of strangers around her, which made me so sad. This is part of the reason why I don’t want my puppy to be a rescue; if it’s traumatized or has tempermental issues, I don’t think I’d be able to properly give her the therapy they need to overcome their issues.

Back to Roxie. She was ready to be picked up and, oh my gosh, she looked GORGEOUS! So clean, and her fur was so fluffy. Best $20 I spent in a long time.


We got home and excitedly told Christian about our awesome day. I definitely want to go to that park regularly, but I don’t know if I want to spend $20 + gas money every time.

Have any of you been to Lake Baldwin or a similar park? I’d like to hear your stories!