Sheba, Apollo, Jethro, Dozer, Birdie and Ali

My history with dogs starts from before I was born. Shortly after getting married, my parents bought a German shepherd. They named her Sheba. She was a very hyper dog, but a very good dog. This was my first dog. She was very good with me, and with my younger brother’s when they came around. The story of how we “actually” lost her was not revealed to me until I was much older, but here is that story. We had gone out of town, and left her at a local kennel. When we returned, we had still not gone to pick her up. I went into my Mom’s bedroom, ( I was in kindergarden at the time). She just hung up the phone and was crying. Come to find out, Sheba had “died” while in their care. They refused to give my parents the body. It was a very weird situation. Come to find out, the vet that was associated with that kennel had rumors about him stealing pure bred dogs while in his care and selling them. While this has not been proven, it makes a lot of sense.

A few weeks after Sheba died, my parents deceided they needed another dog. A friend of their’s knew of a Great Dane breeder that had some puppies available. She went and picked up our new dog, Apollo. He was AWESOME! Anyone that has ever owned a Dane before knows how great they truly are. He was so much fun for us as kids. A funny story about him is that my middle brother was about the same height as Apollo’s tail. He instinctively walked about the house with his arm in front of his face to protect from the whip of a tail that would often times swap him. A little over a year later, we moved to a new house in IL. We had a huge back yard, and were in the process of getting a fence built. In the meantime, Apollo would be tied up (only by short term need, he was an inside dog as are all of our dogs) outside while we played. My older cousin (in high school) was babysitting us one day while my Dad worked and Mom had some things to do. There was a “crazy” woman in our small neighborhood that was known for being a peeping tom. I’m sure she had been at our windows previously because our dog went crazy when she would come by, but not react to most other people much. We were out playing one day away from him and hear him going crazy. I go running over to him to see what is going on. He had broken his chain and was in the middle of the yard barking at this lady. I happened to be in between him and the lady. The lady thought it was a good idea for her to cut through our yard to get somewhere at this point. She tripped in the ditch and fell. It looked to Apollo like she was diving at me, so, as any good dog would do, he came to protect me. He bit he leg several times. He obviously didn’t intend to kill her, or he would have. He then stopped and ran up to the house. The lady sued us, and in the process, Apollo was ordered to be held at the pound. As it turns out, there was an evil person who worked at the pound. They tied up my dog and kicked and beat him severely. So bad that when my parents convinced the court to let us take him home until the issue was resolved, his kidneys were so damaged that he urinated blood. We had him for a few short days after that as the judge, even with me testifying as the only witness, thought it was best my dog be destroyed. That is very hard for a first grader to understand.

Again, my parents being big dog people as they are, didn’t wait very long to get a new dog. We found another breeder close to our house and got a beautiful black Great Dane. We named him Jethro. He was amazing. He was the most laidback, gentle animal I’ve ever been around. He was my baby. We basically grew up together. I cannot say enough about him. He was so amazing that he lived until my senior year in high school. That is around 5 years more than the average Dane. It was my 18th birthday, we were playing a football game on the road. I was the manager due to several head injuries and was prepping for half time when my aunt came up to me and said she was sorry to hear about Jethro. I asked what she meant, and she had a shocked look on her face. My parents hadn’t told me yet. He was big (around 200 lbs), and quite old. His his finally gave out that day, and my Dad had to take him in to have him put down. Great birthday present, huh.

A couple weeks later, my brothers and I got home from school. Mom wasn’t there which was strange. We tried to call them, but got no answer. It turns out they were trying to surprise us by bringing home another puppy! Again, it was another Dane. He was the biggest of the litter so we named him Dozer. He had a hard puppyhood. He got a virus that got into his joints and cause very painful inflammation. Luckily, out vet knew of this condition because it would have killed him gone untreated. Once he got through that, he was as spoiled as it gets. He was much more energetic than any of our others, but a great dog none the less. My brothers and I were much olderwith this one so we played a lot more rough with him, which didn’t help his energy problem. He became my baby. So much, in fact, that we actually shard a bed. I don’t know if any of you have ever shared a bed with a 175 pound beast, but they don’t like to share. I would usually get a corer of the bed and a little blanket by the time morning came. We loved him. In 2004, my wife and I got married. It was a great day. We left the next morning for Italy for our honeymoon. My parents came to pick us up when we got back. I rode back with my dad, my wife with my Mom. When we were about 5 minutes from the house, my Dad told me that Doz had died. I was Shocked! He was only 7! I wasn’t used to that. Turns out that on our wedding night, he got a “twisted gut”. My family carried him to the car and Dad rushed him to the pet hospital (1 hour away). He ended up dying on the table while Dad mulled the very difficult decision on whether or not to try the very complicated surgery. It is a very horrible way for an animal to die. I’m so glad I was not there to see it in person.

I now have two very good dogs. One that I call a Super Mut. Her name is Birdie. She is about 50 pouns and black with a little white bird on her chest. My wife “rescued” her from some people that quit feeding her. She is much more active than I’m used to, but still a good dog. My second dog is a Great Dane/American Bulldog mix. She has the size of a Dane and the personality of a bulldog. I love her to death. She weighs about 130 pounds. We have had some crazy things happen to her (torn ACL, several surgeries), but she is worth it. She is great with my little boy. She lets hm crawl all over her and is so gentle with him. Its great. We love our dogs so much.

Eric from Texas