My first introduction to a Great Dane was in the summer of 1969 while my family and I were staying in a vacation villa in Lake Chapala, Mexico. Directly next door to our villa, there was a family who had a daughter about the same age as I was, and they had a fawn female Great Dane named CARMEN. That summer I spent hours upon hours playing with this little girl and her Great Dane CARMEN who followed us everywhere. CARMEN made a big impression on me, and I remember thinking to myself … “Someday when I grow up I am going to have a Great Dane.”
In 2001, when I was living in a condominium complex in Napa Valley, California, I found a big, black male Great Dane wandering around the parking lot. I brought this Great Dane inside my house and immediately called the SPCA asking if anyone had called in about a lost Great Dane. For the next several hours, I waited by the phone. A woman appeared on my door and said that she was looking for her Great Dane who had escaped out of her yard. I invited her in and said, “He’s right here!” His name was MAX, a beautiful, natural eared black male – and MAX made a big impression on me.
In 2002, my husband Eric and I moved from northern California to his native country, the Netherlands. Being in a foreign country with my husband working onboard a ship two weeks out of the month, I thought this was a good time for me to get a dog for companionship. We had visited several breeders, van Huis Halfweg, van het Buitengebeuren, and van Rosherta. I had my mind made up that I wanted a black Great Dane. Eric said that we couldn’t take a male Great Dane because a male would just be too big for me to handle.
At around the same time, I also joined the Netherlands Duitse Doggen Club (NDDC), and Eric and I started going to dog shows to meet other doggy people. At that time, I also put our name on a waiting list for a Duitse Doggen in Nood (Great Dane Rescue) through the NDDC. I was told by the Rescue coordinator, Ria Labeij, that it was very rare that they ever got a female into Rescue. But she said she would put our name on the waiting list, but to not get our hopes up too high.
When we took our first Great Dane STYLE, it was truly a learning experience for me. STYLE was my learning dog. STYLE taught me so much about love, compassion, patience and understanding. About one year after adopting STYLE, we took SUNDAY from van Rosherta in December 2004. STYLE and SUNDAY were my peanut butter and jelly Great Danes, the best of friends, and the beginning of what became my passion and enduring love for these wonderful, gentle, kind and intelligent Great Danes.
I waited a very long time to get my first Great Dane. A lot of thought and research on my part was put forth before we ever took a Great Dane. I read a lot of books, talked to a lot of people, and joined a Great Dane Club. But I really had no idea what it would be like to have a Great Dane.
Having a Great Dane is a very special experience. It's like having your best friend at the bar having a cocktail with you. But this best friend will always listen to you, never criticize you, love you unquestionably, and never tell you when you are having a bad hair day. There is no greater dog on this planet than a Great Dane, truly a best friend - the most emotionally intelligent dog I have ever met.
In the beginning we were attracted to the look of the Great Dane as we admired the Apollo look, the majestic and regal look. But it's the character and personality of the Great Dane that has really won us over, the silliness, the exuberance of a young child, the faithfulness, the loyalty, and the nobility and courage that you will only see on this special breed that we fondly refer to as the Great Dane, Duitse Dog, Grand Danois.
Our Great Danes and our Maine Coon cats are our family. Our lives revolve around the animals. It's a choice that we have made for ourselves to put all of our focus, energy, and love on our Great Danes and cats.
Our lives would be empty and lonely without our Great Danes.