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The Stories

Name withheld on request

We adopted a 7 week old male great dane from Tracy Ward a couples years ago. We had wanted to adopt a rescue and heard that sometimes they have babies if we were willing to wait, which we were. The story was that sometimes they rescue a female who ends up being pregnant and that’s the only circumstance in which they’d have young puppies. Maybe we were gullible or maybe we just wanted to believe—in any case, I doubt that’s true.

The story she gave us about our pup was that a “breeder died” and then suddenly she was very vague about any other details. We went through the usual routine where we had to bring $400 cash and write a check for the rest (it was $650 total, I believe) and wait at the gate until she came out. She sent us home with some meds in a plastic baggie, instructions to whack him over the nose with a cardboard paper towel ring if he misbehaved (we were horrified at the thought of that), and strict instructions to only feed him Pedigree. We tried but he developed horrible, chronic diarrhea and we spent months at the vets on various food trials until we ended up at a specialist who performed an endoscopy and colonoscopy, ultimately diagnosing inflammatory bowel disease and 6 food allergies. Still, we kept in touch with Tracy and decided to just not tell her about the food switch and diagnosis because every other time we tried to talk to her about something she blamed us somehow. (This was before her policy of making adopters agree to feed their danes only her food). Tracy would respond to emails right away if they contained photos she needed for their “new website” they were creating but anytime I followed up on getting reimbursed for his neuter (per the contract) she suddenly was out of touch, blaming it on her “computer dying” many, many times.

Still, we were optimistic and clearly the Ward’s seem to love danes and have a true desire to help them. I still believe that was the case at some point, but something went haywire and things have changed. We boarded our pup with her for 10 days after she offered a great rate and the promise he’d have the time of his life playing with all the other danes. When we picked him up he was disgustingly dirty and had brown dust from head to toe. He smelled so terrible we had to pull over and wipe his entire body down with baby wipes because we were gagging so much from the odor.

The poor guy struggled with other mostly minor health issues, one after the other. We didn’t care because he was the best thing that ever happened to us! Then we suspected he had the dreaded Wobbler’s disease and when I called Tracy to talk to her about it (I was so upset) she swore “his line is clean” and there was “no way he could have Wobbler’s”. Then she said many of adopters claim their dane has Wobbler’s but it never really is. Well, I tried to think positive but the test results were clear and anyone with eyes could see the compression on his spinal cord. He had a dorsal laminectomy and thankfully is doing really well, but he will never be “normal” and we are always worried he’ll have more problems down the road. I sent a message to Tracy with the bad news and the diagnosis and NEVER heard from her again. By that point I didn’t want to. She was just way too defensive and all I could think was why would she be if he was truly a rescue. And then her comments sunk in and I’ve since heard the “breeder died” story was used many times. It makes me sick to think she’s breeding danes or buying them from breeders to pass off as rescues for profit.I will admit I have no concrete proof but you can be the judge.  -- Name withheld at the request of the author

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