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Valentina was growing up fast!! And I mean really fast!! She gained about 16 lbs a month! It was astounding. Sometimes she seemed to grow overnight. We just couldn’t get over the size of her leg bones. She had such big leg bones as a puppy but her body was so skinny it didn’t seem to match. When we first got Valentina she was small enough that she couldn’t even get on the couch by herself, I had to help her up. She could also walk under our Doberman Clifford’s belly. I had to carefully supervise because our two Dobermans Clifford and Emalee were full grown and I was afraid that they would accidentally hurt Valentina while playing. Emalee was extremely rough while playing. That seems very funny now considering how big Valentina is . It was a different story at puppy kindergarten however. She was definitely the biggest puppy and boy how she loved to roughhouse. She loved to run in circles millions of times either chasing other Dogs or all by herself. She still loves to run laps around the yard. Valentina had a particular affection for a Yellow Lab puppy named Winnie and they were inseparable at every class during playtime. Valentina did so wonderful at puppy kindergarten. One of our assignments was to teach our puppy one thing for homework and then show everyone at the next class. I taught her how to sit, speak, and to give me her paw. We showed the class all three and everyone clapped. Some of the others couldn’t even get their puppies to do even one thing and Valentina did all three and with everyone watching too. I was very proud of her. Everything went very well at this class but I was always afraid that Valentina would accidentally hurt another puppy because of her crazy running around and relentlessness but she actually ended up hurting herself! She ripped one of her back toenails almost completely off. I had to take her to the vet right after class and they cut off her entire toenail because it was ripped all the way down and was barely hanging on.Valentina hurt me sometimes too. She was always stepping on my feet!! Her talons would scrape my feet and I always had bruises from her stepping on my feet so much. That is until I got smart and started wearing tennis shoes instead of flip flops! The bigger she got the more she could hurt your feet. I would always warn people about her talon claws. The fact that Great Danes are leaners doesn’t help either. They always want to lean on you and in the process of trying to get close to you they can’t help but step on your feet.Valentina graduated puppy kindergarten with flying colors and even though she was growing fast I still babied her. When she was too big to lay on my chest she layed in my lap. She was still laying in my lap when she reached 174lbs!! Yes, she weighed more than my husband! She had actually gotten a little too heavy at that point and we had to reduce her food. Then she dropped to 160 and stayed that way for many years. When she was 174 and still laying in my lap it would kill my back but I loved it so much I let her do it anyway. If I had to get up for a minute I would just say to her “I gotta get up” and she would lift her head up just enough so I could get up and she would lay it back down in my seat. When I came back I didn’t even have to say anything she would just lift up her head again so I could get back in my seat and then she would lay her head back in my lap. Those were such special times together that I will never forget. My husband said that I always smelled like her. We were always together and we developed a very strong bond. I would say “are you my baby?” when she was sitting beside me and she would lean over and lay her head on my chest and look up at me with adoring eyes. I would show this to everyone because it was so sweet.
Valentina did have a couch of her own also but most of the time she was next to me. After a while the living room couches had big tears in them from all of the Dog’s claws and they had a terrible stench that I just couldn’t get rid of no matter how much Febreeze I put on them. And vaccumming the hair from four Dog’s off of the couches was an awful chore. So we made the decision to get rid of all of the couches except for one. We now call it the “people couch”. We decided to retrain the Dogs to not get on the couch. We couldn’t afford new furniture so we had to save one of the couches. We took the three best cushions and put them on the one couch that was left. We were unable to find any Dog beds that were durable for “Big” I mean “Ginormous” Dogs that were washable. We actually created some ourselves. For Valentina’s bed we used a twin mattress and covered it with “boat seat” material that is easily washable and doesn’t absorb smells. My husband wrapped the mattress with that material and stapled it with a staple gun to a board placed underneath the mattress. It worked perfectly! I put a fitted sheet on the bed and a comforter and it is the perfect size for Valentina. And it is totally washable! And that is a MUST!!! It was so funny though, She was scared of her new bed at first and she would just stand and stare at it wondering where her couch went. I tried to make her get on it but she would quickly get off of it acting really nervous. It took a couple of days but I finally got her to lay on it and I sat on it with her for a while and she finally got the idea that it was her new bed . Now it is her most favorite place!! Whenever I have to wash the bedding she gets all worried about what I am doing to her bed. When I am walking in the room with her freshly washed bedding she gets all excited about it and she just can’t wait to get back on it. For Emalee’s bed we covered a cushion that we got from the fabric store with the same boat material and put a comforter on it and she loved it right away. I have found that most Dog beds that you can purchase just don’t hold up very long. I have to wash the Dog’s bedding almost every week. I don’t usually go longer that two weeks or it becomes really stinky in here like a pet store. The beds that I purchased would have covers that could be washed but they quickly got holes and the zippers would break and stuff like that. Also you could wash the cover but the inside stuffing was unwashable usually and it would get really smelly. Those beds were also really expensive to keep replacing. Especially when you have to buy one for a Great Dane. Valentina likes to sleep completely stretched out so she takes up alot of room. So now our living room has one “people couch” and two Dog beds one of which is actually a twin bed so it takes up the entire wall on one side of the room. We did have three Dog beds in here before my Chihuahua passed away. My friends think I’m crazy but I wouldn’t have it any other way! Ever heard that saying “The more people I meet , The more I like my Dog?”
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The evening of December 25th 2003 I brought home my life’s dream! A Great Dane Puppy!! She weighed about 20lbs and was about 8 weeks old. She was grey with black spots all over and was the most adorable puppy that I had ever seen. I was actually supposed to pick her up the day after Christmas but I called the man who had the puppies the night before to see what time I would be able to pick her up the next day. When I called the man told me that he was going to be gone the entire day and asked if I just wanted to come and get her right then. I could barely contain myself! Of course I said. I then told my husband and we decided to sneak out and leave the kids with my husbands sister. We went to pick up my puppy which wasn’t far to go because she was born in our neighborhood right down the street. I picked her up and we drove home with her on my lap. I came in the living room and sat in the chair still holding my baby puppy. The kids were in there and didn’t even notice because they were too busy playing with their new Christmas toys. So I called my daughter’s name and she looked up at me and gasped and then both kids ran over to me to see the best Christmas present of all!! We named our new Great Dane puppy VALENTINA!!! So adorable, so beautiful and so sweet!! We all sat on the floor and everyone got to know the new addition to our family. Our Dog Emalee wasn’t sure what to think and she kept whining and she kept jumping like she was scared of the new puppy. Our other Dog Clifford just wanted to play with her but we had to be careful about that because at the time Clifford was huge compared to Valentina. We all stayed up way past our bedtimes playing with Valentina and we finally decided to go to bed. I put Valentina in a crate that we had for her and tried to sleep. But boy did she make alot of noise!! She howled and yodeled for about 2 hours before she tuckered herself out and finally went to sleep. In the morning I woke up to a wonderful surprise. A puppy all covered in poop from head to toe!! I then realized that the crate was too big for her and that I needed to put in a divider. I carted Valentina upstairs for her first bath at my house. She needed one anyway because she was still a little stinky from being with all of the other puppies. I also discovered that she had fleas and I quickly ran to the vet for some Frontline. The next few nights she howled and yodeled less and less and was not covered in poop in the mornings anymore. Thank goodness!! Every night I put her to bed like a baby. I would lay her on my chest until she fell asleep and then carefully carry her to her crate. I loved doing this until she got too big for it. Now for the potty training. I took her out very often. About every hour to hour and a half and she caught on so quickly!! After 2 weeks Valentina was totally potty trained!! She never had an accident again. Amazing!! She really was a dream Dog!! I was having so much fun with my new puppy. She was so well behaved. The one bad thing was that she wanted to chew everything. I know that this is normal for all puppies but with her it went a little to the extreme. She absolutely hated being left alone and she would chew anything and everything when left alone even for a short time. She actually chewed holes in our walls in about five different places and she chewed the window sills while watching me play with my daughter in the yard. She chewed up lots of my shoes, rolls of papertowels that she got off of the kitchen counter, boxes of tissues and even my lipgloss. I quickly discovered that I couldn’t leave her alone at all. I had to put her in the crate just to go take a shower. That helped. But one time while at a friends house I didn’t put her in the crate because my husband and kids were home. I was at my friends joking about how Valentina chews up everything and hopefully she wasn’t at home chewing up the couch or anything. Well I guess I had a premonition because when I got home that is exactly what she did!!! She ripped one of the couch cushions to shreds!! I then realized that it didn’t matter if other people were at home. Valentina did this when I wasn’t home. So I had to always put her in the crate when I wasn’t around and no one else could watch her. It took her until she was about 2 years old to stop all that chewing and I finally could trust her in the house alone or when I left. I still didn’t care about all the damage she did chewing. I loved her so much she could do just about anything and I would still love her. She learned where the trash was and how to open it. Our trashcan is on a track in under the countertop that looks like a cabinet. It has a handle and it pulls out. She learned how to open it by pulling the knob with her mouth so we had to put a baby lock on it. That did the trick and it is still there today. That is only one of the few modifications that we had to make to our house having such a Giant Dog. There were still more to come.
I am starting from the very beginning. As far back as I can remember I have adored Dogs. We had a few when I was growing up but never for very long. Something always seemed to happen. We had some books about Dogs around the house and I used to study them. I would draw diagrams of the insides of Dogs and try to memorize all of their parts and I would study the different breeds. I also drew picture after picture of the different breeds until I had no room to put them all. I was so completely intrigued however by two breeds. The Chihuahua and the Great Dane. I just imagined myself being all grown up and having both of those breeds of Dogs. I would just sit and stare at the Great Dane and Chihuahua pictures and read and reread all the facts about them. I also wanted to be a veterinarian when I grew up.I started my own little kid business which I called ” Loving Care Dog Care” and I went around my neighborhood offering services of Dog walking, bathing, sitting and whatever else they may need me to do. It was somewhat successful. I developed some good relationships with a few neighbors and their Dogs and I had alot of fun. My Mother got me a Dog when I was in about the fifth grade that was a Chihuahua mix but wasn’t a real Chihuahua but I loved her dearly. She got hit by a UPS truck a couple of years later and I was devastated. A couple of years after that a woman in our neighborhood came around with a box full of puppies that she found in the woods and my Mom let me have one but later she ended up getting heart worms and had to be put to sleep because our family couldn’t afford the treatment. After that I really did not have Dog until I was 25. My husband got me a Chihuahua for my birthday. I was elated. I finally had a real Chihuahua. And he reminded me so much of Ginger the Chihuahua mix that I had when I was growing up. He was a wonderful dog and we really enjoyed him. In 2002 my husband, my two daughters and I moved into a house that we still live in currently. It was roomy with a very large yard and so we decided to get another Dog. My husband chose a Doberman since I already had chosen a Chihuahua. Everything was going great and my husband thought that we should get our Doberman, Emalee a companion. So one day he came home with a five month old male Doberman puppy which he named Clifford. I don’t know if you are familiar with the cartoon “Clifford the Big Red Dog” but that is where my husband got the names from. Emily was Clifford’s owner in the cartoon but we chose to spell it Emalee. I really did love these Dogs but I was still wondering if I would ever get to have my greatest dream of all, A Great Dane. I didn’t even mention it because we definitely had our hands full with the Chihuahua,the two Dobermans and I didn’t even mention the two cats! Then one day I was at the zoo with my daughter and I saw a neighbor of mine and we started chatting about this and that and somehow we started talking about Dogs. He started telling me about his Dog, a Great Dane that was having puppies!!! I freaked out and said “I want one!!!” He said “Really?” and I told him that I would have to work on my husband about it for a while. I asked him if I could come over to his house and see his Mama Great Dane and he said I could. When I saw her for the first time it took my breath away. She was so beautiful and so gigantic. Her feet were really big with talons for claws and she had the most beautiful eyes and lovely ears. She was what my neighbor described as a Blue Merle Great Dane. Grey with black spots all over. On November 1st 2003 Maggie gave birth to five adorable puppies.Two blue merles, a boy and a girl, a just blue male, and two female white and tan ones. I was able to convince my husband to let me get one and I went to visit them as often as I could. Previously before seeing my neighbor at the zoo and chatting with him there I had never known that he had owned a Great Dane. He had a very tall fence and I guess it kept her well hidden. While Maggie was pregnant I had already picked out a name for my Great Dane Puppy. VALENTINA!!!! The perfect name. When the puppies were about 2 weeks old the owner of Maggie brought the puppies to my house for me to see. Unfortunately Maggie had gastric torsion and had to be rushed to a vet about an hour away to save her life. She did survive but the puppies had to be bottle fed for a while. In the meantime I was trying really hard to pick which puppy I wanted. They were all so cute. The tan and white ones seemed unique to me. I had never seen a Great Dane with those colors before so I thought I might want one of those. Everytime I visited them the puppy I thought I wanted didn’t pay any attention to me. This other puppy would always be all over me the whole time I was there. The female Blue Merle. So I started to question if I wanted to change puppies. I asked my husband to come over to help me figure it out and when he saw the female blue merle he said “That is the One!!” And I said “I think so too!!” So we waited until it was time for them to be weaned from their Mommy and I started to prepare or so I thought for having a Great Dane in my home.
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