Danes in Distress

Get to know the organization dedicated to finding fosters & forever homes for this magnificent breed

By Jon Nelson

Danes in Distress - Get Leashed Magazine

Since Get Leashed began, we’ve met and gotten to know hundreds of dogs. They’ve all been incredibly special, but there’s one breed that continuously stands out: Great Danes. While these gentle giants certainly make a sizeable impression because of their, well, size, we’ve gotta say it’s their personalities’ that really stand out.

Behind those sweet eyes, there’s more substance and character than found in your average dog. Without intending to sound too esoteric, their personalities are almost human-like in nature. And, like humans, their needs are a bit more complicated than a lot of other breeds, which is why caring for them takes a bit of extra work. This means that Danes are often misplaced in homes, finding themselves with owners who can’t or won’t take the time needed to train and care for them properly. As a result, many Danes are put up for adoption (in the best case scenario), or worse, neglected, abused and oftentimes abandoned.

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Enter Danes in Distress. This fantastic organization is dedicated to improving the lives of abandoned and abused Great Danes, with the eventual goal of finding them a permanent, caring home.

Joanne Wilcox, Regional Coordinator for Danes in Distress, spoke with Get Leashed about Great Danes and the organization’s really big job. Joanne has four Danes herself, so needless to say, she’s dedicated to the breed.

“Google Great Dane personality types,” explains Joanne, “and everything you read will be great, but nothing prepares you for the size.” She continues: “People read ‘gentle giants’ and ‘lazy,’ but they don’t realize the regular dog issues still exist, but are so much bigger with Danes. Instead of chewing your pillow, they’ll eat your couch.”

Due to their size, Great Danes are clumsy. While they’re completely loving and great with people, a common complaint is that these dogs hurt children, simply by accidentally walking into them.

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Photo credit: Erin Campbell photography

And then of course there’s their sensitivity. Many Danes suffer a great deal from separation anxiety. Without proper training, a Great Dane that is calm and gentle when with their owner may act out due to anxiety and panic when left alone.

Because of this, a large part of Danes in Distress’ efforts are put into finding fosters. These are special people who take the time to deal with the dogs’ separation anxiety. A lot of people are long-time foster parents, spending significant amounts of time caring for the dogs in order to regain their trust in humans. If they have other Danes, all the better, as their dogs can help a new foster understand that time alone won’t last forever and owners always come back. If you’re thinking about having a Great Dane as a pet, fostering is definitely a great way to begin getting to know the breed.

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Danes in Distress rescues 50-100 Danes a year. The holidays are a busy time. Last year they had 19 dogs in their system, as neglectful owners go on vacation and instead of finding accommodations for their dogs, simply surrender them to the Humane Society instead.

Through their 60 years of experience serving the breed in Ontario and Quebec, Danes in Distress have become the go-to number for animal services, vets and the Humane Society when a Great Dane needs help. Volunteers are passionate about the breed and some sign on simply to act as drivers, transporting a Dane from wherever they are to a safe foster home.

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Despite their popularity in the Great Dane community, Danes in Distress is always in need of more volunteers and foster families. If you’d like to donate your time, you can learn more here.

Of course, monetary donations are also needed. Danes in Distress covers the entire cost of fostering a Great Dane for as long as it takes to find it a forever home. Every little bit helps and if you’re able, you can make a secure donation on their site.