Providing Loving Homes for Gentle Giants
By SUE SIENS
The first time you stand face-to-face with a Great Dane, it might be a little intimidating. In a few short minutes though, you will quickly realize not only are these spectacular dogs large in body size, but they also have big, loving hearts. Much like the famed cartoon characters, Scooby-Doo and Marmaduke, Great Danes do not know they are dogs. They think they are people and want to be treated as such.
Great Danes are wonderful family pets and generally get along well with children and other animals. While very gentle, they are also very protective and fiercely loyal to their owners. Their loving nature is the reason for the passion behind the women-run non-profit organization, “Dames for Danes”, that provides loving care for these gentle giants.
Dames for Danes is an all-volunteer, 501(c)(3) organization that is dedicated to rescue and saving the lives of homeless, abused and neglected Great Danes in Virginia, Kentucky, Tennessee and Georgia (and other areas as resources allow.) The organization, established in 2008, evolved from a large breed rescue group named ‘Great Creatures’ based in Oak Ridge, Tennessee.
Karen Dypolt and Amy Mumpower of East Tennessee founded Dames for Danes, soonfollowed by local resident Caroline York. All three women are 5’3” tall or shorter, so as Caroline describes them, “We are short women with big dogs,” she explained. Caroline represents the organization for Middle Tennessee and west to Memphis. She first learned to love “Danes” from her father, who has cared for them for 25 years. Not to exclude males, the organization also has male foster parents and volunteers.
“The reason we do this is because Great Danes are such extraordinary dogs. Because of their size and health issues related to the breed, many owners don’t realize when that adorable puppy grows up, they have specific needs. There is a great deal of responsibility to care for them,” said York. “Then sadly they end up neglected or abandoned at shelters or veterinarian offices,” she continued.
York, an employee at Village Veterinary Hospital in Mt. Juliet, explains how her employer Dr. Jason Benner is a major supporter of their organization and is a “Great Dane Specialist”, who has made many of their success stories possible.
Dames for Danes provides rescue, foster care, veterinary care and sterilization for Great Danes in area animal shelters that might otherwise be euthanized, and rescue from abuse or families who simply want to surrender their dog because they can longer care for them. Adoption into loving and qualified homes is the ultimate goal. Prospective owners are properly screened and counseled by their adoption coordinators and foster parents. The organization also provides education to the public about the importance of humane treatment, animal welfare and spaying and neutering.
Last year, they provided placement for 190 Great Danes in Tennessee, Kentucky and Georgia. They gladly accept (tax-deductible) donations for medical expenses, food, transport and volunteers for fostering.
Think you want a Great Dane? Keep this in mind. Adult Danes eat 6-10 cups of food per day, depending on whether they are male or female. They are very social and like to stay in the house and must be with people. Danes should never be chained, tied up or caged, and they do need some outdoor space to get exercise.
However, they cannot handle being left out in extreme heat or cold and should not be left outside all the time. Much like your children, they also “counter surf”, that is, they are tall enough to help themselves to any treat that might be left on your kitchen counter. But, they are also one of the most loving, happy companions available.
If you are considering fostering or adopting a Great Dane, Dames for Danes will gladly help you. Contact Caroline York by email at Cmyork217@aol.com, telephone (615) 722-7944, or visit their website at www.DamesforDanes.com