Our Gentle Giants

The story of two Floridians and their foster Great Danes



November 25th, 2015

Our Hellish Week

By Tara

This past week was not awesome. Well, parts of it were. Parts of it I could have done without.

Max

I’ll start with the worst thing first.

max2Christian and I had to make the toughest decision ever: to put our boy, Max, down.

We took him in thinking he was a 13 year-old Mastiff (!!) who would be at death’s door. We didn’t expect to have him for very long. After his first appointment at the vet, we learned that he’s around 8 years old and totally healthy! We thought we would have him for a long, long time.

Unfortunately, the past couple of months haven’t been all sunshine and rainbows and this weekend he passed away. We are devastated. I haven’t seen Christian this depressed and it is breaking my heart. What is comforting us is that he died in our arms (technically, Christian’s arms). He died surrounded by love. We really did rescue him back in September. According to his bio, he was an extremely old Mastiff. Plus, he was at an open-access shelter (read: kill shelter). He wasn’t going to last. We didn’t want him to die on concrete. We wanted him to die warm and surrounded by love.

I am so grateful that he came into our lives. He taught us some important lessons and he showed us so much love. He had the silliest way of giving his loving face. I wish I had a video of it. Consider this your reminder to take photos and videos of your loved ones often.

I also feel like this situation brought Christian and I closer. We had to make a tough decision and we were united in making it. We also shared (and are still sharing) the same depression. I really do feel like it has strengthened our bond.

Friends

We were in Georgia visiting friends and family (and I was attending a conference there). We stayed with our friends H and T. They are so freaking awesome. H is totally my soul sister, and T is equally awesome. The four of us get along famously. Max died while we were staying with them and they showed us so much kindness and compassion. I am so grateful for our friendship with them. I don’t think we would have gotten through this weekend without them.

Furthermore, H’s parents invited us to their first Thanksgiving dinner on Sunday. They were so warm and welcoming! They treated us as if we were a part of their family. Definitely a great way to kick off the holiday season.

On our way to Thanksgiving with H's family, my post-dinner nap, and the awesome dinner table.

On our way to Thanksgiving with H’s family, my post-dinner nap, and the awesome dinner table.

Family

The plan was Christian was to leave on Sunday with Ana and Roxie (they were in Georgia with Christian, me, and Max as well) and I was to go to my uncle’s house and stay with him and his wife for two days while visiting with them and some other family members. I arrived there on Monday and had a great visit with them. It was so nice to see them and catch up (we usually see each other every couple of years).

Unfortunately, my visit with them was cut extremely short.

Christian

About 2 hours after I got to my uncle’s house, Christian texts me and says, “Shit. Something is terribly wrong with the car and I’m stranded on the side of the road with Ana and Roxie.”

WHAT?

Get this: he had cruise control on for 100-200 miles. He decided to pull into a rest area so he could go to the bathroom. That’s the first time he had used his brakes and one of the tires sort of locked up. What if he had to come to a stop driving 70 miles per hour because someone in front of him slammed on their brakes? Ugh, I still break out into a cold sweat thinking about it.

A tow truck was already dispatched. Christian’s only option was to stay at a hotel overnight. But how was he going to get to a hotel with two dogs and let alone find a hotel that will accept two dogs?

I brought up our second option: I go rescue them. After some resistance on his part (simply because he didn’t want to drag me away from my family), I set off on a 4 hour ride to pick him and the pups up. Unfortunately, he was closer to our home than to my uncle’s home, so my trip was effectively over and we were going to head home after that.

As soon as I told them I had to bounce, my uncle’s wife immediately turned and packed a bag filled with caffeine and food: enough food to satisfy both me and Christian. We were all so upset I had to leave early, but did enjoy our short time together. God, I love them.

So, armed with podcasts (love Amy Porterfield!) and music (Britney Spears and The Backstreet Boys kept me company), I set off at 7pm to go save my family. Christian was driven to a Geico-approved Honda dealership (he rode in the cab of the truck while Roxie and Ana were towed inside the car; that must have been fun for them!) and dropped off there. I wasn’t scheduled to arrive for another 5 hours. They spent about 4 hours in a dimly-lit parking lot in a cold car (Christian refused to turn on the car to save energy). Once I got there at 12am, I learned that this dealership was several streets away from any activity. I was pretty upset that they weren’t in a safe area, but I felt safe knowing that Roxie barks at any little noise and Ana’s bark is pretty ferocious for a mini Great Dane.

Christian and I switched seats and he drove us home. We got home at about 2:30am and immediately fell into bed. We spent the next day mostly in bed since we were depressed about Max and depressed about the impending repair bill. Christian had two theories about what was wrong with the car: it either was a quick fix or an expensive car. So, we may need to “put that car down”. Ugh.

Be Grateful

My message to all of you: take a moment today to be grateful.

Grateful for the support system around you, whether it is your family or your car insurance company.

Grateful for your pets who love you unconditionally and in a way unlike any human being could.

Grateful for your health, even if you aren’t in the best condition.

Grateful for everything you’ve experienced in life, good and bad. I truly believe that there is something to learn from every situation you are in in life, so be sure to stop and appreciate the lesson and personal growth.

It was after writing this last section when I realized how perfectly timed this weekend was (with Thanksgiving coming up and all). I love my friends and family so much. I love every experience I’ve ever had. I love my life.

Happy Thanksgiving.

Our only family photo (well, it's a still from a video which you can view here.

Our only family photo (well, it’s a still from a video which you can view here.


Thoughts
  • Jill Wilder November 25, 2015 at 9:27 pm

    Reading this part of your story with Max still makes me sad. I’m glad you gave him a loving home while you could. We never know how long we will have our fur-babies with us. The lesson you’ve learned about finding the lesson and the personal growth in trying situations is a huge one. It’s one that not everyone appreciates but it’s important. Love you guys!

  • Jay November 26, 2015 at 6:06 pm

    Sorry to hear of your loss :(

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