Rescue Watchdogs(TM)People and Rescues working together for the betterment of Rescue
I'm not GETTING ANYTHING from telling the truth about Tiergan.
The story of Tiergan should probably be written in six different chapters… It should read...
Chapter One: Tiergan's Original Home and Family
Chapter Two: Tiergan's Time at Gentle Giants
Chapter Three: Tiergan's Time with his New Adoptive Family
Chapter Four: Tiergan's Trip to Rescue
Chapter Five: Tiergan's Adventures in Rescue
Chapter Six: The End of Tiergan's Tale... Tiergan at his Forever Home
Unfortunately, we don’t know the beginning two parts of his story- we don’t have the facts in regard to why Tiergan was turned into Gentle Giants or how his rear leg was paralyzed… We don't know anything of Tiergan's past.
Therefore, we must begin Tiergan’s story in April of 2005.
My family found themselves at Gentle Giants Rescue in Norco, California, hoping to adopt an adult Great Dane to integrate into our family. Our request, per our adoption application, was that the Dane in question would need to be small-animal friendly, child-friendly, and appropriate for our household. At the time, it did not seem like we were asking for much.
We spent over 6 hours at Gentle Giants, looking at the various Great Danes that were taken out one at a time. Two in particular caught my eye and I was aghast when I heard their adoption fee- $900.
According to the adoption paperwork, most dogs adopted out of Gentle Giants required an adoption fee of $400 in cash. Although $400 may appear to be a lot- when you calculate the price of a healthy Great Dane puppy ($1000), vet care for the puppy into adulthood, including neutering ($500), and miscellaneous additional costs, $400 seemed rather reasonable at the time. Nine hundred dollars, however, for an adult Great Dane that might live another 6 years, if we were lucky, was not in our price range and I refused to pay such an outrageous adoption fee for an adult animal.
I told Tracy Ward this and she appeared to stop and think… She then stated that she had another Dane that had been on their property for quite a while, but no one wanted to look at him. “He has a bad back leg,” I was told, “But our vet said there was nothing we could do- but no one wants to look at him because of his handicap.”
My husband and I immediately agreed - bring out this handicapped boy and we would talk about adopting him.
The Great Dane Tracy walked out of her house was nothing like we expected… He was skin and bones and his rear leg literally dragged behind him.
We were informed that he had lost weight after his recent neuter surgery and that’s why he was skin and bones… We were also told that his back leg had been x-rayed by their vet and the vet could not determine what had happened to cause such a horrible injury. When asked if it would not be kinder to amputate the leg, we were told no- the vet said the leg should not be amputated since occasionally, the Great Dane would use it as a crutch to stump around the yard.
At this point in time, Tracy offered us another Dane if we adopted this one in such a horrible condition. She offered us a younger female that appeared to be a pointer-mix. This youngster was healthy, but frightened of her own shadow.
For $600, we could adopt both dogs.
For a second, I considered it. Then I looked at the mantle Great Dane with his rear foot dragging in the filthy dirt. I looked at his gentle brown eyes and I noted how he leaned up against anyone who would stay next to him for any amount of time.
I decided that this mantle Great Dane would come home with us. Sadly, we turned away the little scared female that was offered with him.
Realizing that we were going to take this Dane off of her hands, Tracy remembered that she had a dog boot in the house that might help protect his raw foot from the vicious ground; she quickly went inside and retrieved it. Although this small detail did not seem important at the time- now it raises questions in my mind. If she had a boot that could have protected this dog’s foot during his stay with her family- why not already have the bootie on his paw? Why wait until an adoptive family decided to bring him home?
That night, as we drove away with the mantle Great Dane in the back of our vehicle, I knew we were doing the right thing adopting this dog. We could not have left him behind - he was destined to be a part of our family, even if just for a short time.
I told my husband that night, “He has such a strong heart and soul - we shall call him ‘Tiergan’. It means ‘strong’.”
Tiergan’s integration into our family began that first night. After a sponge bath to clean as much of the filth off of him from his time at the rescue as we could, we laid a blanket on our bed and coaxed him up. As most Danes do, Tiergan quickly realized that sleeping on the bed was his favorite place to be.
I can’t help but wonder if that night was the first time Tiergan spent his night on a soft, warm surface versus the cold ground.
His personality was extremely calm and loving. Even with his bad leg, Tiergan wanted to spend time with our family and would typically be in the room with one of us.
Although Tiergan was only 11 months old, it struck us as odd that he never wanted to play - with us or our two dogs. Due to his severe malnourishment, we hoped this was just a temporary phase and one day soon, Tiergan would play again.
Contrary to what we were told during our adoption process, Tiergan did not appear to be house broken. He also appeared as though he either had never seen the inside of a crate or if he had, it had been extremely traumatic for him. It took a lot of treats to coax him inside his crate for any amount of time in the beginning.
Worse, however, was the fact that Tiergan began evincing signs of being food aggressive towards our other dogs. At the time, I did not realize the severity of the issue; now, I wonder if perhaps Tiergan learned this aggression at Gentle Giants - trying to fight his way to the front of the ‘pack’ in order to eat. Due to his condition, he could never push a full grown 150 pound Great Dane or Saint Bernard out of the way to get to a food bowl - was this why Tiergan only weighed approximately 70 pounds when he came into our life? Perhaps his physical condition prevented him from eating his fill during the daily feedings of the ‘herd’ at Gentle Giants? We hoped, with time, that Tiergan would learn that he would always be allowed to eat his fill in our home.
Still believing Gentle Giants, we purchased a $100 set of booties to help protect Tiergan’s foot from dragging. We discussed amputation, but thought it would be best to have Tiergan’s medical records before requesting a complete evaluation by our own veterinarian.
We also debated, those first two weeks, whether it would be kinder to euthanize Tiergan… Although most dogs with three legs were capable of moving without assistance, Tiergan was constantly tripping himself. At times, he would pull his body forward with his front legs and drag his entire back half on the ground. Using the bathroom was difficult as well - we were cleaning Tiergan constantly due to his instability. Sometimes, it appeared that his entire rear end was weaker then his front, which seemed odd if we were simply dealing with a paralyzed hind leg.
During this time, I sent repeated emails to the Wards requesting Tiergan’s veterinarian record. We were informed while we were there that he had been seen by a local vet and that his leg had been x-rayed - their personal vet did not recommend amputation. I wanted those records before bringing him to my veterinarian. I figured we would have a better chance of moving forward if I had all of his medical information ahead of the appointment.
I never received a response about his medical records.
I did, however, receive one email from the Wards during this time.
The second time I asked for his vet records, about 3 days after adopting him, I asked about the adoption fee for a Saint Bernard my husband had grown fond of during our visit. I immediately received a response about the dog’s adoption fee, but conveniently, Burt Ward did not mention Tiergan’s vet records.
At this point in time, I began to become suspicious. I realized that each rescue handles their adoptions differently and each rescue has their own requirements. However, due to Tiergan’s physical condition, it struck me as neglectful not to supply his new owner with the veterinarian records as soon as possible.
This is when I began talking to people about Tiergan…
If you search the internet for ‘Gentle Giants’, you will only find propaganda for the rescue. However, once I began to talk to people, I realized there was more to the story behind Gentle Giants… I learned that I probably would never see Tiergan’s veterinarian record because it did not exist. He was probably never treated by their vet; he never received x-rays of his bad leg… He was simply a way for the Wards to put another $300 of cold hard cash into their pocket. Worse then all of this, I learned I was not the first person to be fooled by their flashy website and rescue name.
The stories I heard were atrocious, but they are not mine to share. I hope one day, those adopters will feel comfortable sharing their experiences publicly as well.
Within almost 48 hours of learning this information, something horrible happened. As I was watching our dogs from my kitchen window, Tiergan fiercely attacked my smaller Dane.
I yelled at Tiergan to back off and raced out into the yard. My puppy ran into the house and cowered in his kennel, screaming. I expected my Dane to be over-reacting, but when I called him over to me - I was shocked.
Puncture marks on his ear and neck, a gash clear to the muscle over his eye- Tiergan had definitely left his mark on my puppy. Our puppy developed a raging infection and it cost us $700 to treat the bite wound.
I immediately called the one rescuer I knew and trusted in the Great Dane world - the same individual who helped us adopt our deaf Great Dane puppy. I needed to know - was this a one time incident? Could it happen again? Is it safe to keep Tiergan in our home?
The rescuer realized the depth of our problem. Not only did we have a potential time bomb on our hands, but at this point in time, we needed a full veterinarian work-up on Tiergan because it obviously was never done at Gentle Giants. After our $300 adoption fee, $200 travel fees to Norco and now our $700 vet fee, he knew we would not be able to afford to give Tiergan the care he needed.
He recommended, kindly, that we place Tiergan into rescue.
I felt as though we were failing Tiergan. I did not blame him for biting our smaller Dane; I realized his life before he came to us was not ideal. I asked for ways to ensure Tiergan never attacked our pup again, but it always came down to the same answer - unless we could keep both dogs separated indefinitely, we could never guarantee that an attack would not happen again. Plus, if we chose to keep Tiergan, we would need to be able to give him the veterinarian care he needed.
I knew we could give Tiergan back to Gentle Giants, but at what cost to the soul of this sweet Great Dane? My family realized immediately that sending him back to a place where he obviously did not receive the treatment he so desperately needed was not an option.
For those who question my decision - tell me, what would you have done?
My options were to keep him and risk my puppy and possibly family, send him back to a place that did not take care of him when he was there, or send him to a rescue where, hopefully, he would receive the appropriate veterinarian care and then spend the next 7 years gracing the life of someone who would adore him.
Regardless of what you believe, I believe I made the right choice. I spent a lot of time crying and spent a lot of time on the phone with my friend, the rescuer, for reassurance. And then I made my decision - Tiergan was going to enter rescue, if rescue would have him.
The day Tiergan left my life was extremely bittersweet. Although I was sending him away, I knew I was doing what was best for him. I knew I had made the right choice. It still was heartwrenching to hand Tiergan’s leash over to someone else and watch him drive out of my life…
This is the end of my story, but not the end of Tiergan’s tale…Hopefully, one day, the rest of his story will be written.
The truth of Tiergan stands- that no one GAINS from lying about Tiergan. Well, except GGs.