DaDane of DaWeek

 Created: 08/25/03


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–  MuchAdo Absolutely Fabulous Strlng (Tess)

August 25, 2003 – This week's DaDane features Joanna Kimball's uncropped blue puppy, "Tess," who I photographed at last year's GDCA National Specialty when she was just five months old. She is pictured here against a backdrop that I shot in Hawaii while standing at the edge of a steaming volcanic crater. With so many shades of gray, the background and Tess just seemed to go together, so with the help of Adobe Photoshop (my favorite software) I was able to make it happen.

As is usually the case with a featured Dane, I asked the owner (in this case, Joanna) to fill me in on the latest news. It seems that Tess – who appeared so sweet and innocent – has proven to be anything but. In Joanna's words:

Tess was part of our very first litter, and was named “Absolutely Fabulous” to bring her good fortune and buoy our show ring hopes. At this point, we often joke that we should have named her “Absolute Disaster” — Tess has been in one scrape after another over the past year. Tess takes incredible joy in destruction, and this, combined with a very underdeveloped sense of guilt, makes her the naughtiest puppy we’ve ever had of any breed.

She combined her puppy uglies (which were considerable) with the demolition of a section of chain-link fence and the consumption of six dog beds, hundreds of books, the noses and eyes of every stuffed animal in the house, and, in one particularly memorable morning, a two-by-three-foot section of drywall. She was the show pick of her litter, but finally, “Sell her!” we declared, and we had a wonderful pet home waiting.

But then, a week before this lanky, butt-high, cow-hocked bitch was to leave our well-chewed house forever, she began scratching. And scratching. A red patch became visible on one flank, then another. We put off the new owner for a few days and went off to the vet. The vet shook her head — Sarcoptic? A Staph infection? A massive allergic reaction? Nothing cultured positive. Our options were few; Prednisone or perhaps some Ivermectin, but nothing concrete to fight. And suddenly this oft-accursed puppy became the most important member of the pack. Food changes, herbal concoctions, yeast creams, all came and went with little change, and now the oozing red monster had spread from her tail to her first rib. Vet visits became a weekly event, but aside from the Prednisone (for which there was no real justification) there was nothing new they could offer us. The potential buyer/owner was now long gone, sent off to other breeders with our best wishes.

Finally we gathered up our frantically scratching baby and the well-worn credit card and threw ourselves on the mercy of a homeopathic vet outside of Washington, DC. After four months of fighting, this was our last-ditch effort before steroids. Thankfully, six pellets of Arsenicum later, the horrid itch began to fade.

It’s been a month since; Tess is now marked only by the minor scrapes she gave herself during her latest escape attempt. We’re reinforcing the fence, putting the stuffed animals up higher, and repainting. Whatever happens, whether her destiny is the ring or the dent she’s making for herself on the couch, this absolutely fabulous young lady is here to stay.

Way to go, Tess!! She conquered the cursed itch, outgrew the puppy uglies, and she's now looking as good as she feels. What's next for this irrepressible creature? Joanna tells me that in a few months they hope to get her into the show ring. She sounds like a winner, don't-cha-think?

What happened last week?
Some of you wrote to ask why there was no new DaDane last week. I was off on a brief vacation, visiting my sister and her family in Vermont. Since I wasn't able to complete a new illustration and story before my departure, I decided to leave Maggie's story up for another week. Many thoughtful comments were posted by visitors who read the article on Maggie. I know that Maggie's owner, Paula Stebbins, really appreciated all the compassionate responses. Dane owners know how to comfort each other during times of loss. I guess we have a lot of practice with this much-loved, but short-lived, breed.

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