DaDane of DaWeek

 Created: 01/26/04


 – Newest DaDane

 – Previous DaDane

 – Archived DaDanes

 – Copyright Policy

  Available now 
  DaDane of DaWeek
  T-shirts & Sweatshirts

  Coming soon...
  DaDane Notecards &

Great Dane Links Directory

Loading image...

– Jackie and Luna –

January 26, 2004 – We all enjoy hearing about happy, active Danes living comfortable lives with loving families – like Alex, Sheva and Penelope, all of whom we met earlier this month.

Unfortunately, not all Danes pass into the hands of loving caregivers. You are about to meet a mantle Great Dane named Luna. Luna's story, as told by Jackie Overbeek, is not one you will soon forget. Jackie, a vet assistant at an emergency clinic in Michigan, first met Luna when she was brought to the clinic at the brink of death. Since then, Jackie has kept a diary that follows Luna's journey from darkness to light. Grab a box of tissues, and read on:

– By Jackie Overbeek –

12/18/03 Thursday
Luna came into the emergency animal clinic late this evening, suffering from severe weight loss and seizures. She was also "flat" – our term for an animal who is unconscious or comatose. She weighed 65.2 pounds.

Luna's owners said that she has had diarrhea for a while, but otherwise has been eating okay. They couldn't tell us what brand of food she eats, or even when her last heat cycle was. They said she eats a variety of generic dry foods and that she usually weighs between 120 to 150 pounds. According to them, her seizures began this evening.

Luna's body temperature was too low to even register on a human thermometer (which goes as low as 93 degrees) so we immediately placed several covered hot water bottles around her and started an IV. We obtained a sample of her blood, ran some tests, and noted that her blood glucose was 16. Normal is 100. We started medications and glucose in her IV. Luna's seizures stopped. Her owners maintained that she was sick and losing weight from a "mystery illness." The DVM told them that Luna would need additional diagnostics to determine if she has a treatable disease.

12/19/03 Friday
At 4 a.m. Luna was fed a small amount of i/d, a prescription food that's bland and gentle. By 8 a.m. she was awake, alert and able to go outside to urinate. Other than the severe hypoglycemia noted, Luna's blood work was non-revealing. We obtained her previous veterinary records from another clinic and noted that she weighed 150 pounds in May 2001, and 109 pounds in March 2003.

Her owner was still insisting that Luna's weight loss occurred only recently, and said she was unsure if her teenage son was feeding her regularly. She asked the doctor if a week without food could make her this sick (hypothetically, of course – she said that this really didn't happen).

The emergency animal clinic then contacted the authorities from the county in which Luna's owners reside. Because Luna’s physical condition was so horrible, we wanted to discuss any statutes and local ordinances involving animal cruelty and neglect. It turned out that before this incident, 3 previous complaints had been lodged against Luna's owners regarding her condition. The owners had maintained that she was sick and under the care of a veterinarian.

After hearing our report, the authorities told the owner that per Michigan's Anti-Cruelty law, charges would be filed against her – unless she was willing to relinquish ownership to the animal hospital so that we could find a suitable home for Luna; and that under no circumstances was the clinic permitted to return Luna to them. When we spoke to the owner that afternoon, she agreed to come in to the hospital to pay for Luna's care from the previous night and sign papers transferring ownership to the hospital. She said that she'd be in after work that evening.

Luna continued to improve throughout the day, eating voraciously. At 3 p.m. my shift at the emergency clinic began, and I first met Luna. Other than eating and getting up to go outside to urinate, she remained in a prone position, moving nothing more than her eyes.

As I approached her kennel, we made eye contact and Luna's tail thumped slightly. I opened the door and sat with her. She lifted a paw and put in on my leg. As I continued to stroke her very bony head, she raised it and put it on my lap with a big, long sigh.

At that point, with that big head in my lap and those wonderful, wistful eyes looking straight into mine, I was hooked. I told the clinic's powers- that-be that I'd take Luna – either for foster care, or forever. I spent every free moment that night holding my new doggie and just "lovin'" her.

(Please note that I've worked in animal shelters, humane societies, and clinics for 15 years and I have NEVER brought home or chosen any animals to adopt. Although I currently own 3 cats, I didn't choose them; they chose me. They were strays that had shown up at my house over the years. )

12/20/03 Saturday
Luna's owners never appeared that night. Instead, they called to say that they'd be in the following night to sign the papers. When they finally did show up, they were belligerent and demanded that we give them the dog. They said they were going to have her put down. We had to insist that they leave.

A short time later, they returned with the police. We updated the officers and put them in contact with the authorities in Luna's county. After the conversations, and after seeing how poor Luna's condition was, they told the owners that they were NOT getting Luna back and they must leave the clinic.

Luna continued to get small meals every 2 hours and she ate voraciously. Her blood work also showed that she was positive for heartworm infection. This was not unexpected; if her owners weren't feeding her, they certainly weren't providing heartworm preventative, either.

I have a teenage son, and we were worried about Luna's reaction to him, given the fact that her previous caretaker had been the same age and gender. I asked my son to visit her in the clinic that night, and Luna was terrified of him. (She's also terrified of sticks and rakes, which also makes me wonder just what the heck she went through). She has since, however, warmed up to him and she loves him dearly. They often lay on the floor together, just cuddling.

12/22/03 Monday
After much hemming and hawing, stalling and procrastinating, Luna's owners finally signed over her ownership. Just 4 days after she first entered the clinic, Luna was considered well enough to come home with me. She had gained 5 pounds. I spent my lunch break doggie shopping – getting a large crate, sheepskins, toys, elevated dishes, etc.

My husband, who had been somewhat reluctant about adopting Luna (who he had not yet seen), cried when I first brought Luna into the house. He said she looked like photos he had seen of concentration camp victims. She even had bedsores (now healing) from being down and sick in her old home. That night, she crawled into my husband's lap, laid her head on his chest, stared into his eyes, and won his heart. Ever since then, she has continued to try to be his lap dog.

12/24/03 Wednesday
On Christmas Eve, Luna had her first bath at her new home. She was terrified, but horribly stinky and dirty. The water that ran off her was dark brown. We continued to feed her i/d several times a day and she continued to inhale it almost as fast as we pour it into her bowl.

12/31/03 Wednesday
On New Years Eve, we stopped in for a visit to the clinic. Luna was very nervous, but not aggressive. She was petted, loved and spoiled during our time there. She weighed in at 89 pounds, almost 25 pounds more than when she came in to the hospital just 13 days ago. We also made stops at the drive-thru teller, where she was given treats, and the drive-thru pharmacy, where she was also very charming and given treats.

01/09/04 Friday
Check up time with the doctor! 95 pounds! Strong enough for rabies and other vaccinations (not given by previous owners). More treats and much spoiling by the doctors and staff.

We also took x-rays to determine the extent of her heartworm infection. On a 1 to 4 scale, with 4 being the worst, Luna was a 3. She is showing no clinical signs (coughing, lethargy, etc.) but her radiographs show significant cardiac enlargement, and cloudiness in her lungs.

My baby was so good during her appointment. She even fell asleep on her back on the x-ray table. The doctor said that if she weighed 100 pounds on January 20, she could begin heartworm treatments.

01/20/04 Tuesday
Luna weighed in at 100.6 pounds. Time to start treatment! Granted, heartworm treatment is horrible, but much less so than death by heartworm infection. Luna's treatment will require 2-3 injections spaced out over 1-30 days. The injections are given with a long needle in the lumbar muscle in the back. The patient must then be kept quiet for 30 days while the heartworms die and are absorbed by the body. Otherwise, they can cause blockages in the pulmonary arteries or embolisms in the lungs as they die and are not absorbed, but instead forced into the body.

Luna showed no significant problems after the injections other than severe separation anxiety for which she had to be tranquilized. Many dogs are stiff and painful after the injections. Today is day 3, post-injection, and Luna has some mild coughing and vomiting. These reactions are to be expected, but it still breaks my heart to see her not feeling well.
It also makes me angry because heartworm preventative can be as inexpensive as $10-15 a month.

Because of the severity of Luna's heartworm infection, she is at risk for the next 2-4 weeks. She must be quiet and not get excited. Her next injections are scheduled a month from now.

Luna is somewhere between 5-7 years old. I understand that Danes don't live forever, but I'd like to love her and spoil her for as long as I can. She most definitely deserves it!

– Jackie Overbeek,

How I met Jackie and Luna
I first spoke with Jackie two weeks ago when she phoned to order some "mantle" t-shirts. We hit it off right away. She told me about her love for Luna, and I told her about loving (and losing) my mantle, Jabber. As I listened to Luna's story, I knew it was a story that ought to be shared. If you are the praying kind, please say a quick prayer for Luna – that she will weather her heartworm treatment and go on to live many happy years with Jackie and her family. We'll check back with Jackie and Luna in a few months to see how they are doing.

Post Script
One aspect of this story continues to puzzle me. Was it a lingering shred of humanity that prompted Luna's people to bring her to the clinic when she was at death's door? Were they trying to save her? Perhaps, or perhaps not. Maybe they were getting tired of watching her die and felt it would be a tidier process if she did it at the clinic. I suppose we'll never know. I like to think there is a special place in heaven for people like Jackie and her colleagues at the emergency clinic. And though it's ungracious of me, I also like to think there is a special place at the other end, for those people who bring misery and pain to innocent creatures such as Luna.

Archived comments (24) |

©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!