Life Lessons from a Great Dane

Polly has taught me many things from her rough beginnings in a hoarding type situation when she came to us at just five weeks old, and then over the next eight years. There is no doubt she’s taught me far more than I’ve taught her. I’m sure that’s the point of dogs in our lives anyway, so I watch for those lessons.

The last few months have been riddled with lessons from my old gray girl. She was in pain in her back, then one leg, then the other, then both. X-rays revealed the CCL (ACL in humans) in both hind legs were ruptured. But worse, she has Canine degenerative lumbosacral stenosis (DLSS) in her spine. Her age and this condition rule out her being a good candidate for surgery on her legs.

What does this mean for Polly? Well, for now she’s on low doses of anti-inflammatory and pain medications that are keeping her comfortable and functional. She’s also on supplements to help rebuild her ligaments and boost overall health. Rest assured, she has the best veterinarian care in our area. When the time comes that she is no longer enjoying life, we will help her over the Rainbow Bridge with all the love and care our girl deserves.

But she’s still having too much fun for that, due in part to her Orthodog brace. It’s amazing how well she walks with this brace and my vet was shocked when I sent a video. I added a shearling pad (a gift to Polly from a dear friend) to cushion her back and a couple of modifications to the straps to make it go on and off faster. It’s made all the difference for Polly. The long mountain hikes are beyond her now, but she loves to go for walks around the cabin.

She gets excited when I get the brace out, it supports her knee joints and gives her confidence. She wears it with dignity, grace, and a great deal of silliness because even that can’t stop the urge for good roll in the cool grass.

Polly loves the simple things. A pleasant walk, her bed on the porch and the one inside by the big window where she can watch the rabbits. She loves snuggling her giant stuffed animals, a ride in the car, and breakfast in bed. Mostly, Polly loves to be with us. Those are the things she thinks about. This dog doesn’t mope around feeling sorry for herself. She revels in everything she does, whether it’s standing (and wiggling!) for me to put her brace on for a fun walk, sleeping in the sun, or riding in the car.

Life threw Polly a one-two punch, but she threw it right back, and I learned something in the process.

Life lessons from a Great Dane: Do Great things, and when you can’t, make what you can do Great. 

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