I've had dogs all my life and many that were important family members. However, I'd never owned a Dane until this past year. What an experience!
When my sister, Cindy, moved to Maui, she brought her dogs with her, including a Harlequin Dane. There aren't many Great Danes on Maui and so it wasn't long before she met other Dane owners and in particular a wonderful local breeder of Harlequins, Judi Riley. One of Judi's litters had a 'White' and as are most White's, he was deaf. My sister adopted this pup, named Boo. Boo was my first Dane love.
About 6 months later, Cindy decided to move back to the mainland and of course was taking her dogs with her, including Boo. My heart was broken. Cindy told me I needed a 'White' of my own and put me in touch with Judi Riley. Judi knew of a breeder in Australia, Pat Kingham of Quintessa Kennels, who was looking for a home for a White. This pup had been placed, but though the owner had known Beech was deaf before placement, she found it was harder to deal with the deafness than she expected and so returned the pup to Pat. Pat wanted to make sure that the next placement was a good one. Judi told her of my specific interest in adopting a White because of my experience and love of Boo and because of my interest in ASL and Deaf Culture. Pat & I communicated via email & phone and she agreed to place Beech with me. I'll be forever grateful to Pat for trusting me with one of her babies.
Beech just stole my heart away like no one and nothing ever has. He was sweet and loving, a rascal, and smart as a whip. As you'll see from his pictures, he was often smiling and just seemed to enjoy life. We were going to change his name to a Hawaiian name "Nohea" which means handsome, but got so comfortable referring to him as Beech that the name change never caught on. I mention this though, because you will see some pictures labeled as Nohea that were taken during the period that we thought we'd change his name.
All Danes become very attached to their owners (though who owns whom is a big question!). However, you are the CENTER of a deaf Dane's life. Beech would howl pitifully if I left him for ANY length of time.
My grandson was graduating in the Spring of 05 and we had plans to attend his graduation in Eau Claire, WI. This meant we either needed to kennel Beech, which I knew he would hate, or find another arrangement. We decided to have a house/dogsitter and started prep several months in advance. The young man started living at our house and becoming friends with Beech. He took him to the park and to the beach for runs and developed a good relationship with Beech. We felt we were ready.
The night before we left on our trip, Beech was especially clingy... staying right underfoot all evening and then sleeping on the floor at my feet rather than on his pillow as normal. In the morning, he again stayed right with me - never leaving my side. He "knew" I was leaving. When we went out to the car, he tried especially hard to get in the car with us and I had to use a very stern face to let him know he could NOT come. Though he did not try to follow the car, he watched us intently as we drove away.
Our first stop was Seattle, WA and as soon as we reached our daughter's house, I called to see how things were going. Beech was missing! I was worried, but our housesitter and our tenants were all looking, calling, putting up signs and I was sure my beautiful boy would turn up. He was hard to miss - HUGE (150lbs) and dazzling WHITE! I went to bed worried, but hopeful.
The next morning, I called and still no Beech. I was hoping he would have found his way home in the night, but no. But there were plans to intensify the search for him and so I hung up to await further word. A few minutes later, one of our tenants called and asked to speak to my husband. I didn't think much about it and passed the phone to him thinking it must be about plumbing or something. Then I heard him say, "You've found Beech?" I started to get excited, but then heard him say, "He's dead?" He died the first day of our vacation and just a month shy of his 1st birthday. I was devastated like I've never been - it felt as if I'd lost a child.
It's been three months and my heart is healing with the help a new little Dane friend, Finlay. Pat Kingham is not only a magnificent breeder, but an extraordinary woman. Though we've never personally met, I consider her a good & true friend. She knew first hand the extent of loss that I felt and knew what I needed to heal. She sent me Finlay. I'll be posting pictures of Finlay soon, but first I want to post pictures that chronicle Beech's short life. He's dearly missed and always be. I feel I was blessed to have had him in my life for even the short time we had. Thanks Pat.
Many thanks to my good friends, Judi & Charley, who stepped in during our absence to help deal with Beech's death. They buried him on our property in a shady spot under a palm tree and planted these beautiful flowers. Thanks also to Will, for the love and attention he gave to Beech and for creating a loving rock sculpture to surround Beech's grave. Thanks also to Lili and Sarah for their help and love.
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