Recently in Monica - RIP Category

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Today is a sad day for me - we had to put Monica to sleep. She was around 12 years old, which is unbelievably old for a Great Dane, and it was time for her to pass on. On one hand, I'm devastated that she's gone, but her health has been steadily declining over the past few years, so it probably is for the best that she's gone.

Monica (or "Squid" as we referred to her as) came into our lives on February 2, 2002. I found her through the Great Dane Rescue of North Texas, and drove 12 hours roundtrip on that day to pick her up. When we adopted her, we were told she was around 6 months old, which if accurate, would put her birthdate at sometime around August of 2001.

I'll never forget my first meeting with her. She was quirky, dorky, and struck me as a bit ditzy. Little did I (we) know that she wouldn't really change much from that first meeting. We joked after a while that Monica had two hearts and no brain, because while she was the sweetest dog in the world, she was anything but the sharpest.


We quickly discovered how sensitive she was, and learned that she had been abused pretty severely. After having her for a week or two, she suddenly became deathly afraid of me. She would pee uncontrollably whenever she'd see me. We later deduced that she must have been abused by a male, because she always seemed a bit leery of men.

We worked with her and her fears. We took her to therapy sessions, learned techniques for calming her, and after a few months, she seemed to be comfortable around me. Which was a win for me, because I loved her like crazy. She was such a cuddle bug; there wasn't a blanket she wouldn't try to crawl under, nor a lap she wouldn't try to sit on. She especially loved to sleep-in whenever possible; she'd lay her head right on your pillow and would get upset when you tried to coax her out of bed.

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She was also quite "squeatal-lee" - a word that we coined to describe when she would roll onto her back and wave her gangly legs in the air. She'd often do this when she had been caught doing something naughty, or if she wanted extra attention (she didn't appreciate other dogs getting attention when she was around).

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I mentioned her naughty side. It was one of the most endearing qualities that she had, because even though she would do some truly naughty things, she was always so cute about it - probably because of her lack of intelligence... It was impossible to get upset at her about anything, because we realized she just didn't know any better.

She was a world-class counter surfer; she once stole an entire pizza from the counter and ate it before we even had a chance to cut it. She loved to lick our plates clean after meals, whether we wanted her to do it or not. If we'd try to tell her "no" or try to stop her from doing it, she'd step back, purse her lips together, and "talk" with this Chewbaca-like growl. Here she is trying to help herself to a Thanksgiving turkey carcass.


While her legs and spine have been failing her for the past few years, rest assured that back in the day, she was quite the athlete. We would take her (and the other dogs) to the dog park, and she would tear around the place for an hour and never get tired. While generally a klutz when walking around the house, she was a fantastically smooth and graceful runner. Her huge, gliding strides kept her in front of all but the very fastest of dogs. I believe this photo is from sometime in 2005.


I'll also never forget the absolutely dopey look she'd get on her face after a full evening at the dog park. She'd be exhausted but still eager to play and run around... she'd hold her ears in the craziest poses - like this photo shows. She was such a goofball.


It seems like only yesterday when she was wild and energetic. But time flies, especially in dog years, and before we knew it, Monica was getting old and cranky. Toward the end of her days, she became super intolerant of any other dogs. She'd take cheap shots at Regis and Riley; I'm guessing it's because she knew she couldn't maneuver like she used to. She was also likely to be in some sort of pain. She spent most of the past few years lying on her couch.

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Amy reports that Monica really slowed down with eating and activity about a year or so ago, and I believe it. When I visited Amy and the dogs in March of this year, Monica was looking quite frail and was having a difficult time with walking. She'd only eat very specific foods, and when she did, she didn't eat much of them. I'm guessing she dropped to around 90-pounds or less; down from her normal 120-pound range. Here she is, lying in some sun back in March of 2013.

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I was lucky enough to get to visit with her last night. Amy recently moved back to Wisconsin, and I think the move was especially hard on Monica. 12-hours in a Tahoe at her age isn't an easy task. It was heart-wrenching to watch her stumble around Amy's parent's house last night. Her back legs just weren't getting the signal to move in a coordinated fashion, and she was so thin and weak. She needed help doing nearly everything - Amy is a saint for taking such good care of her for so long.

When I saw Monica, my heart sank. Gone was the majestic, strong dog that I remembered. Her dark eyes still had that dopey, always loving look, but I could just tell that she wasn't comfortable. She was lying on the couch, and I could see all of her bones; I got the impression that it was painful for her to shift around. Her face was ghost white; grey hairs took over most of her facial features.

As a last meal, I brought her a McDonald's cheeseburger and some chicken McNuggets. I figured she'd enjoy a little junk food. She happily inhaled them and when finished, she threw me one of her trademark sword-tongue kisses.

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Amy got some good photos of Monica lying on the grass outside; I don't have them yet, but will soon. I was only able to get one photo of her outside... you can see how thin she is and how old she looks. The sock on her foot is to prevent her from licking it - she developed a hotspot on that foot and wouldn't leave it alone.

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Monica, I'll miss you. I never quite knew what you were thinking, and that's one of the things I loved most. I'd look at you and wonder what crazy thoughts were running through that little pea-sized brain. While you didn't always appreciate the other dogs, I know that you loved us, and I want you to know that we loved you. You are a special dog. I hope you rest comfortably and I thank you for so many great years. Good bye, wonderful girl. I hope you appreciated us as much as we appreciated you.





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