DaDane of DaWeek

 Created: 02/21/02


 – Newest DaDane

 – Previous DaDane

 – Archived DaDanes

 – Copyright Policy

  Available now 
  DaDane of DaWeek
  T-shirts & Sweatshirts

  Coming soon...
  DaDane Notecards &

Great Dane Links Directory

DaDane of DaWeek

He's Running Free

January 21, 2002 – Sharing one's life with a Great Dane brings tremendous joy, countless amusements and some unique challenges. Danes are beautiful, spirited animals. Their flame burns strong and bright. It's a flame that warms you. It's a flame that comforts you. It's a flame that adds sparkle to your life. It's a flame that illuminates you – and your household – in countless ways.

Unfortunately the Dane-Flame is a temporal flame; you want it to last forever, but it doesn't. It can't. When your Dane's flame begins to fade, your mind wanders to brighter days. Your heart feels a chill as you realize that all too soon you will be losing that bright, wonderful flame. Too soon you will have to say good-bye.

Jabber in decemberJabber's flame has been flickering since March, 2001. Those of you who have visited this site on a regular basis know all about that. On Tuesday, January 15, the flame was extinguished by the prick of a needle. With tears in our eyes – and a lump in our throat – we said farewell to our beloved Jabberwocky.

Jabber was the son of CH Amherst-Harlewood Bubba Rondo and CH Amherst-Harlewood Gabrielle. We brought him home – along with a mischievous merle littermate named Merlin – when he was 10 weeks old. I remember the day clearly. It was February 4, 1995. Our household was instantly transformed into a raucous playhouse.

Both puppies grew up to be lovely dogs with superb temperaments. Merlin was blessed with wonderful health, but Jabber was not so lucky. I won't waste time documenting Jabber's health problems. They were many and varied. We weathered them together. He seemed to take every setback in stride. This past year was the hardest. In March Jabber underwent TPLO surgery to repair a failed cruciate ligament in his knee. The surgery was a disaster and left Jabber crippled. (See details here.) Somehow Jabber persevered. He seemed to be telling us that it doesn't matter what you can't do – it's what you CAN do that matters most.

Snow bunniesThe Downhill Slide
During the past several months Jabber's rear legs became increasingly weak and uncoordinated. His neurological problem was accelerating and there was nothing we could do about it except watch carefully to make sure he was still comfortable and happy. He was. By December Jabber had lost the ability to rise without assistance although he could still walk reasonably well. Running, which he did frequently, was a modified bunny-hop. Jabber seemed undeterred by his motor problems, but by Christmas the strain of lifting him was getting to be too much for my slight frame. The clock was ticking. We decided to put Jabber on Prednisone. We hoped that a low daily dose of steroids would restore some mobility. It worked. Jabber was stronger and required less lifting. His coordination didn't improve, in fact it continued to deteriorate, but he was more mobile and lively. It was a reprieve for both of us. Right after New Year's Day we had a significant snowfall, the first in a decade. It shut down the city for two days. Jabber and Merlin frolicked in the snow. They had a grand time. It was a delight to watch.

The Last Day
Jabber was happy right up until the end. He went out several times Monday to chase animal scents with Merlin. He did so with great enthusiasm, rapidly bunny-hopping up the hill behind the house and exploring all around. Later in the day Merlin, Jabber and I went for a walk halfway around the pond feed corn to a large flock of Canada geese. A walk to the feeding station was always the highlight of Jabber's day. He liked to sniff along the forest edge, picking up fresh scents from passing deer, raccoon, and whatnot. He liked to wade into the pond and see the geese scatter as he took a long drink of water. He loved being outdoors because that's where the wild things are. Jabber was always fascinated by wildlife.

Late Monday night, as I was getting Jabber up for his last potty break, something seemed to "let go" in his rear legs. He needed a lot of assistance, even to walk. We realized then that Jabber was nearing the end. I stayed with him for most of the night. He was shaken by his condition, but comfortable. By morning he had lost the ability to move his hind legs and he was incontinent. We knew it was time to let him go.

JabberThe Last Farewell
It was early Tuesday morning. Jabber was incapacitated, although fully alert. We felt the gentlest thing would be to euthanize him at home. Unfortunately our veterinarian couldn't come out to the house on such short notice. She offered to send somebody to help us with Jabber if we were unable to get him into the car. Somehow we managed to do it – how I don't know – and we drove straight to the clinic. To minimize the trauma we decided to keep Jabber in the back seat of the car where he was laying in my lap. He was totally alert right up to the end. He tried to get away from the needle as he felt the solution entering his system. That was the hardest part, but he soon lost consciousness and then he was gone.

Jabber had a very strong will to live. That's probably why he survived everything he faced until now. Wherever he is, and I do believe his spirit endures, I'm sure Jabber is at peace and he knows how much we loved him.

Home Again
Arriving home, feeling very alone without Jabber, I immediately walked over to the feeding station at the edge of the pond to put out some corn for the geese and swans. I thought about all the times Jabber was with me for the feedings, of how much he loved doing that. I was thinking to myself that Jabber will always be there with me – in my heart – when I cast out the corn. Suddenly a big white Mute swan from the other end of the pond took to wing and flew across the pond towards me. With utter shock, I realized this was a stranger. Our other two Mutes were right there in front of me. The "new" swan flying towards me may well have been one of the two offspring that left us last January. We haven't seen them since. Or maybe the swan was from another place entirely. Whatever the case, I like to think it was a sign from Jabber. Maybe it was his way of telling me that his spirit is soaring free. Or maybe he was trying to tell me that in his own way, he has come home. Perhaps both.

That beautiful swan stayed on the pond for the rest of the afternoon. When dusk fell he took to wing and we have not seen him again. After Jabber's death, we transported his body directly to Clemson University's Veterinary Diagnostics Center for a complete necropsy. We asked that specific attention be given to his spine, urinary tract and right rear leg. We are still waiting for the report. I will share the results as soon as we have them

Jabber's Necropsy

©2002-2008 by Ginnie Saunders. All rights are reserved. No part of this web site 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. To learn more about copyright issues on the web, visit the Web Law FAQ., Inc.   
PO Box 50314   
Columbia, SC 29250   
(803) 783-3169   

Go to DogWare!