Mr. Big Is Back!

May 7, 2001 – Regular visitors to this site will probably remember the trouble we had with our two Mute Swans last summer. We were not able to find a new home for them before this year's breeding season rolled around. Consequently we've faced several months of intense harassment from our male swan, Mr. Big. Humans and Great Danes aren't his only target. In February Mr. Big drove way two of his three offspring that were hatched last June. We were sorry to see them go because they were very pleasant (unlike their father) and quite beautiful. Young swanOne day they simply flew away after a particularly aggressive attack by their dad. We have no idea where they landed but we hope they found a good home on another pond. The remaining juvenile swan is a female. Mr. Big tolerates her presence, but he has strict rules about where she is allowed to swim on the pond and when. In late March Charlotte, Mr. Big's mate, built a nest and deposited four eggs. She began "setting" six weeks ago. The eggs should have hatched at the end of week five, but they didn't. One lone eggs remains in the nest and Charlotte refuses to give up on it. (She will probably sit on it until it explodes.) Whatever happened to the other three eggs is a mystery, but it is possible that Albert got it.

Albert the alligatorAlbert is the young alligator that appeared unexpectedly last August. He lived in our pond for a couple of months. Then he disappeared. He was just a juvenile, less than 30" long from the tip of his snout to the tip of his tail, but a well-fed alligator can grow almost a foot a year. Needless-to-say, Albert was an unwelcome addition to our 8 acre pond. We were relieved to be rid of him. His presence had been particularly unsettling because it meant that two adult alligators – his parents – were probably lurking within walking distance of our property. Anyway, we thought we'd seen the last of Albert but he reappeared two weeks ago. Evidently he had never left us; instead he'd been hibernating. Albert is much bigger now. At almost 36" it's unclear whether or not he would have the ability to force Charlotte from her nest and consume her eggs. Probably not.

Earlier Installments...

Week #1
: See Jabber and learn all about TPLO.

Week #2: Jabber's first surgery. How it went and what's ahead. Also, meet Merlin. He misses Jabber.

Week #3: The first surgery failed. What went wrong and what was done in the second surgery. A slide show of Jabber at the hospital.

Week #4: The second surgery failed. Drastic measures are called for. A third surgery is performed

Week #5: Jabber has a bone infection. What next!?!

Week #6: Transferred to University of Georgia's College of Veterinary Medicine.

Week #7: Jabber finally comes home after seven weeks of hospitalization.

Week #8: The first week at home, getting ready for physical therapy.

Jabber's Progress
Last week I drove Jabber to Charleston to start his physical therapy at the VSS clinic. In order to work with the leg, Jabber's external fixator bar had to be removed. After it came off they discovered that the top three pins in his thigh were no longer rigid. Evidently it is not unusual for fixator pins to loosen up after a period of time. Once that happens it can be quite painful. The loose set of pins meant the entire fixator apparatus had to come off, otherwise a fourth surgery would have to be performed to remove the loose pins and install a new set of pins. Fixator site on the femurBased on Jabber's last radiograph, Dr. Shealy felt that there was sufficient bone healing
to remove the fixator. (It had been on Jabber for almost seven weeks.) Rather than put Jabber through another operation, we opted to remove the fixator.

I stayed with Jabber and watched them remove the fixator rods and pins. Jabber was not sedated, nor was a local anesthetic used. He lay there quietly with his head in my lap while they went to work. The pins in his thigh bone came out pretty easily because they were already loose. The four pins in his tibia were cemented in by new bone growth. Jabber was stoic. He didn't even flinch when they had to use a ratchet to remove the lower pins. The holes bled quite a bit at first. The doctor took a smear of the bloody fluid coming from one of the pin sites and sent it off for a culture and sensitivity evaluation. This was a pin site that had been oozing for several weeks. The culture report came back indicating the presence of antibiotic-resistant E. coli, the same strain cultured from Jabber's urine several weeks ago. Fortunately it is treatable.

Physical Therapy

Jabber stayed in Charleston for five days and he received daily electrical stimulation sessions on his leg called "e-stim." He did little else besides eat and sleep. I picked him up at the end of the week and brought him home for a three-day weekend.

Jabber without his external fixatorTo my surprise, Jabber is much harder to manage now that the fixator has been removed. Getting him up and walking him with the sling is more difficult because his "good" leg seems weaker and he isn't able to assist with the process like before. (Remember, he weighs 175 pounds – that's a lot to lift!) The fixator sites in Jabber's TPLO leg have completely scabbed over leaving seven hard bumps. I can tell Jabber is more comfortable without the fixator, but it's removal seems to have upset his equilibrium. As expected, he has minimal range of motion in his knee joint, perhaps 10°, and he is still unable to use the leg. He will put a little weight on it when he is standing but only if I position the leg properly for him. He can't move the leg into position by himself. He tires quickly and spends a lot of time sleeping. Jabber's therapy program should help restore some function to his leg. How much function, we don't yet know. At a later date he will need additional operations to remove three of the twelve screws in his knee. I can tell we have a long, tough road ahead of us. Last night I watched Jabber sleep. He was dreaming. His legs were twitching and pumping – both of them. In his dreams Jabber can still run. I hope someday his dreams will become reality.

Go to next installment...

DaDane of DaWeek t-shirts & sweatshirts

are available at

These drop-down menus should work with all browsers.
If you experience a problem, please visit the hypertext-based Archives & Directory.

- Recommended Links -
Great Dane T-shirts DaDane's "Great Dane Links" now offers over 1000 links, sorted by category for easy browsing. Categories include health & welfare, breeding & genetics, clubs & organizations, rescue resources, breeder directory, and personal pet sites. New links are added every Monday.

Free DaDane Postcards
There are 95 electronic postcards now, including the most recent DaDane pictures. Send someone a DaDane postcard. It's virtually free! Also available: E-male postcards and FeMail postcards.

DaDane T-shirts
Your favorite DaDane postcard pictures are now available on t-shirts, turtlenecks, and sweatshirts. Please visit our DogWare website to see the latest designs. These shirts make great gifts!


Dane Owner's Checklist || DaDane Archives || Great Dane Links || Virtual Canine Postcards || DogWare Boutique || Dog versus Man

It's time to PUT ON THE DOG!
DaDane T-shirts are now available
at logo
©2001 by, Inc.  
PO Box 50314, Columbia, SC 29250  
(803) 783-3169  

©2001 by, Inc. All rights are reserved. No part of this website may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means — electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage or retrieval system — without written permission from Ginnie Saunders except for the brief inclusion of quotations in a review. To learn more about copyright issues on the web, visit the Web Law FAQ.