Sheva Susannah Wesley, CD CGC
– By Jerry Dunham –
the fall of 2000, a young couple moved to Austin to start a new
them their two cats. Neither had owned dogs as adults, though they'd
been raised around them.
An acquaintance announced that
she was getting a Great Dane puppy and suggested they get one of
the littermates at the same time. The couple agreed because the
they were still living
a small apartment and had not yet looked for a house. None-the-less,
the breeder, who lived in a small town a couple of hours away from
Austin. They met her
by the side of the road, halfway between, to pick up their new
puppy. To their surprise, the breeder presented them with TWO puppies,
the last of
the litter, and offered them a "special deal" if they'd
take both. Pressed to make a quick decision, they took both Great
Dane puppies back to their small apartment.
a week they were ready to scream for help. This madness was NOT
what they'd been hoping for. They had met
a friendly vet tech at the clinic where they'd been taking their
cats, so they called her in panic, asking where they could take
it to a shelter. As it turned out, the tech had a rescue Dane
that she'd obtained
the local Great Dane club, so gave them the name of the club's
rescue coordinator, who agreed to help.
The coordinator then called
us to see if we could take the puppy for the night, because we
were close by and it
was late. We ended up picking up the puppy at midnight
with the understanding that we'd take her on to Etosha Rescue the
It never happened.
the one week the puppy spent at her first home, she was given the
Sheva, which means "seven" in
Hebrew, based upon something in a Seinfeld episode. It was a unique
name, and she was beginning to respond
to it, so we kept it. Linda expanded it to Sister Sheva Susannah
Wesley to make it more ecumenical (Catholic/Jewish/Methodist).
about 4 and 1/2 months we started puppy Obedience classes. Almost
immediately, Sheva came down with a pretty severe case of HOD.
At the worst
point, she was unable to bear any weight on her legs and screamed
when she had to move them. I took her outside to potty using
a towel under her belly as a sling to support her. The HOD lasted
about one and 1/2 months. It was one of the worst things we've
been through with any of our dogs. Linda felt so sorry for her
Sheva to sleep on our bed, a FIRST in our family.
Once Sheva recovered
from HOD, we resumed Obedience classes. She graduated
first in her class. We knew that was unusual for a Great Dane,
but didn't yet know how special she was to be. She was only our
second dog to train.
Sheva began competing in AKC Novice
events with me in 2002. Together, in our first all-breed shows,
we scored 4th, 3rd, 2nd and 1st. Being still
very green at this, we didn't understand what that meant yet. There
were no other Danes in our classes to compare with, and the
best of the Goldens, Dobes and herding dogs were on our level.
It WAS a surprise when, at the big San Antonio show, a crowd gathered
from the Conformation area as we went in the ring, and then applauded
loudly as we left the ring, having taken First Place. Had we
done something special?
In 2003, Linda began competing with Sheva
for the first time. At their first very event, Sheva's score was
.5 (one half) below 4th place. They resolved to do better, and
took 3rd place at their next event! Then in San Antonio the two
of them took 1st place in Novice B, in the same show that Sheva
won the previous year.
I began working with Sheva in AKC Graduate Novice and APDT
Sheva got her Rally-O Level 1 title in four shows, with a bust
(did the wrong thing, but did it perfectly), two 198's and a perfect
200. She was the first Dane to get her "Magna cum Laude"
title, which requires an average of the three qualifying scores
hand against other Danes for the first time at specialties in Ft.
Worth (spring and fall) and won Grad Novice.
In the spring of 2003, it was
called to our attention that the GDCA had put up a page with Obedience
results for 2002 and MUCH to our surprise, Sheva was listed
3rd for Novice.
Not long after that, someone else
brought us "Front & Finish"
magazine, where Sheva was listed in the Delaney ratings as the
number 2 Obedience Great Dane
for 2002, regardless of class. (The Delaney system is based upon how many dogs
you beat, not your overall score.)
Sheva finally reached the big stage last
October at the GDCA National Specialty in Orlando – and she didn't
disappoint. She won Graduate
Novice with me and won Novice
with Linda, both times beating the dog that was ranked 1st in the Delaney
rankings for 2002. Sheva's score in Novice (1961/2) gave her High
in Trial, 5 and 1/2
points higher than the HIT score from the previous year (or so
told), and we brought home a big trophy
for the mantle.
Not bad for a little rescue bitch from
a backyard breeder, and a couple of rather
green handlers. I think we'll keep her.
– Jerry Dunham, email@example.com