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Traveling with scared 2 year old DANE

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  • Traveling with scared 2 year old DANE

    First, I need to let you know that I have already tried traveling in my RV with my Great Dane, Maddie. She hated the movement, the different things she saw, and the uncertainty of what the next day might bring. She was glued to me, and cried when I left her alone so I could shower or leave to grocery shop. It took a lot of coaxing to get her in the RV after her first few test drives. She startled easily and barked at more than one person who approached too fast, or had something in their arms, or just didn't feel right to her. She lunged at a few children who appeared fearful as well. We were, of course, moving right before the "practice" trip, and there was a lot of changes going around her.

    I thought I was doing the right thing when I decided to leave Maddie behind while I traveled the U.S. with my children for a year. I "knew" she would be happier in a more consistent environment than traveling would give her. I had an agency help find a new home, went to meet the family, and felt very good about the new living arrangement. My children and I were also very sad, but didn't want to put Maddie through the trauma of moving around for a year. I was very clear that if the placement didn't work out, for any reason, I would take Maddie back as I didn't want to uproot her from another family.

    Well, the new owners haven't finalized the adoption after six weeks. The agency director has left multiple messages with no response after the first few calls. The director has contacted the police and is in the process of reclaiming Maddie. I am two states away, but plan to return once they have successfully reclaimed Maddie. At this point, we don't even know if she is okay. We don't know why the new owners won't finalize the adoption or contact the agency.

    Okay, I can do nothing about the current situation at this time. My guilt won't help Maddie. What I need is advise as to how I can help Maddie acclimate to living in an RV. Of course, I may have to take roots somewhere (this trip is also about finding a new state to call home) soon if Maddie will too traumatized by the traveling. Four people are currently living full time in our 26 foot class C motorhome. I am quite comfortable, as are the kids. Maddie will have very little space to call her own, but I think she'll do okay with that. She had little problem sleeping on a small (for her) dog bed on the floor when I traveled with her solo.

    I am most fearful of her insecurity and potential to bite strangers if startled. Maddie is a very sensitive dog. I had her around a lot of people while traveling alone with her. It was difficult for me to keep her calm and comfortable in those crowds. Most people were fine around her and didn't approach her without asking. I had them show their hand and approach slowly. She was fine with this, although a bit apprehensive at times. If someone approached caring a large item, or approached too fast, she would bark and pull on her leash like she really meant to harm them if given the opportunity. That same person could approach her a little later, slowly and calmly, and she would be fine.

    Maddie has a distrust of some people. She especially has trouble with children under the age of ten, or so. We think the boy next door to us antagonized her when we weren't home. She used to really like the child, but turned to disliking him almost overnight. Maddie would bark at the house he lived in from then on, and anyone in front of it (including the UPS man). So, someone (or two) must have done something to Maddie to cause such distrust in such a short amount of time. So, now Maddie doesn't trust children who are about that boys size. An adult at the same house was probably the instigator in the torment of Maddie (another story).

    Thus, I have a Great Dane who loves and trusts ALL other dogs, but not all people. A Great Dane who hates driving in the RV. A Great Dane that I can't let my children walk, for fear that Maddie will lung at someone, and my children are not strong enough to keep her from doing so.

    This is a dog who used to love all children, although she has put herself above my youngest in the pack since she was a puppy. This dog used to go to my children's baseball and softball games, and was very popular and friendly. This is also the dog who started to nip children in the face when she had enough of them, once she turned two. A dog who really is no longer a gentle giant with all strangers or children.

    Advise, please! I plan to reclaim Maddie once the agency gets her returned. The director knows that I was never interested on sending Maddie to more than one home. They knew I wanted her back if the current home did not work out for some reason. I do not want to traumatized my Maddie any more. I will give up traveling, if I have too, but I don't want to deprive my children of this experience either. How can I help Maddie adjust to traveling and to strangers? Is it possible? Maddie is a very sensitive dog!
    mom to Maddie GD 4/10/09
    and three human children 9, 10, 14

  • #2
    I don't have much advice because my Danes LOVE traveling, but I have a couple of thoughts based on other people's experiences with nervous dogs.

    You could try rescue remedy to help calm her while you're driving. A thundershirt might help too.

    Also, you might consider having her wear a muzzle (introduce it very positively) when you take her out so that you don't have to be worried that she could bite someone. Fear/anxiety travel down the leash, so if you're uncertain about how she'll behave, she'll be more likely to be stressed/anxious. Muzzled, if you know she can't hurt anyone, you'll probably be more relaxed about taking her out and about.

    Finally, every day is a new day for a dog. So, something that traumatized her once doesn't have to always. Counter conditioning can take a lot of time and patience, but it can be very effective.

    Hope you get some helpful suggestions and get your girl back before long!
    Brembo, Puffin, & Rahime

    "He is your friend, your partner, your defender, your dog.
    You are his life, his love, his leader. He will be yours, faithful and true, to the last beat of his heart.
    You owe it to him to be worthy of such devotion." - Unknown


    • #3
      Hope you are able to sort out this situation soon - I don't have much experience travelling with a scared Dane, just a shy one who always has a huge sigh of relief when she is back home on her favorite couch.

      I have heard that a head-collar type of harness is much better for fearful danes than a pinch type collar.

      When you travelled with her before, did you have a daily routine?
      sigpicTexas... my first dane!


      • #4
        I tried to keep to a bit of a routine but, truthfully, I hate routine.

        We went on many walks, which she loved. The smells of the "great" outdoors kept her very curious. We walked along the ocean, the streets of small ocean communities, and paved, wooded paths. All of which Maddie loved, with the exception of some pretty crowed sidewalks. She was a bit nervous then.

        I didn't use a pressure collar. I used a rope/leather lead that worked similar to a horse lead. It worked very well, although I didn't have as much control as I would have had with a pressure collar.

        Maddie particularly loved the ocean. But, it was very difficult to find places that I could let her off leash to run.

        She has had a lot of training, but is only as good as her trainer (I haven't worked with her enough). I think I really need to look into a muzzle. I don't think she'll like it, maybe she can get used to it?
        mom to Maddie GD 4/10/09
        and three human children 9, 10, 14


        • #5
          First,you say agency,not naming a reputable rescue,where you left a dog with problems you could not handle.I have traveled extensivly,living and working from a 34foot,class a motorhome,with a Dane,who is well adjusted,a great representative for the breed,and a perfect companion.If you could not work through the dogs problems and she was unable to adjust to life with just you in a motorhome,I see no possibility of her adjusting with three children in a space so small,that she has absolutly no personal space.It would be irresponsible of you to try,for both the safty of your children and the well being of the dog,and any rescue to return the dog to you considering the situation.I am sorry ,but guilt or not,I see no way you can make this work.You say you do not want her traumatised more and yet wish to return to a situation too traumatic for both in the begining,with the added concern of children,what are you thnking?
          Sam and Amos


          • #6
            My mistake doesn't change today's situation.

            Sam, you are right on all accounts. But, that doesn't help the situation much. I screwed up using the agency that I did. I can't change the past, but can try to go forward with more information.

            What am I thinking? Good question. That's why I posted here. I am torn about what is best for my dog, at this point. The current family has proven they're not fit to have my dog. What is so hard about filing papers and paying a small fee ($150). I spend about $75 a month on dog food and treats. If they can't afford the fee, how will they afford the food and other expenses of a dog? I don't know why they discontinued contact!

            As of today, the ball has been left in my court. The agency will "try" to back me in court, if the director is available. I have filed a police report, over the internet, as per agency directions. I was then told that I, now, had to persue the return of my dog without agency involvement. It sounds crazy, and feels just as crazy. A month ago I was told NOT to contact the current family, or the police officer in charge of these types of cases.

            I placed Maddie in a home I thought was permanent because I didn't want to have her fostered for a year, then return and remove her from another home. It may seem otherwise, but I have always done what I thought was best for Maddie. With the exception, possibly, of not giving up my plans to travel for a year, when it became apperant that Maddie would not adjust well to life on the road. I chose to honor my travel plans over keeping Maddie. The RV was paid for, the house sold, and the kids schooling arranged. I was selfish, and Maddie got the short end of the stick.

            I have made the decision to discontinue traveling if I get my dog back. I will still be in the RV for as as long as it takes to secure a home and job in the new state. And, Maddie will survive the road trip to our new home.

            As for children, Maddie is fine with mine, and most others. I will employ the help of a dog behaviorist or trainer, if neccessary, in my new home. Of course, I don't have unlimited funds, and some things will take a while to set in place. Maddie enjoyed going to daycare three days a week while in my home, and that is the first thing I will try to secure when I find employment.

            Any resources that anyone has in the Eugene/Springfield area would be appreciated. Also, any advice on how to persue the return of my dog throught the California court system.

            Thanks all!
            mom to Maddie GD 4/10/09
            and three human children 9, 10, 14


            • #7
              I am trying to understand this.What kind of an agency are you talking about?Once the dog was surrendered by you,a rescue would assume responsibility for placement and necessary fees would be collected before the dog was released.You then say that you placed the dog.Your story doesn't make sense to me.I have put myself out often over the years paying for spay,neuter,shots,food,and even building fences to help keep a dog in a home,especially with children,where they were loved,so I am not trying to be mean about this,I just don't understand what you are asking for or why.The dog is not in your possesion and you are not close enough to reclaim her.It sounds as though you sold your dog and are now unable to collect and want the dog returned,otherwise your only contract would be with the"agency"and it would be up to them to pursue this in court,not yourself.With only these three posts to judge by(none while you had the dog and training help might have been sought)your story lacks the ring of truth.Please correct any misconceptions I might have and clarify what it is you want from the members of this forum.
              Sam and Amos


              • #8
                I have made mistakes, but I am truthful!

                I assure all that I am being truthful. Stupid, even self centered, but truthful.

                The Humanity for Healthy Animals Foundation (in Fresno, CA) director was in charge of Maddie's placement. I went with the director to see the family that she wanted to place Maddie with. I liked them very much and stayed for about an hour after the director left. The director said two weeks would be long enough for the new family to decide if Maddie was a good fit for their family. She was to return at that time to collect paperwork, copies of papers I left with the new family, have Maddie micro-chipped, and to collect the foundations fee.

                I admit that the decision to place Maddie was rushed as I already had plans to leave the state. And, had only realized that Maddie would not be happy on the road (something I never considered as she loved the car, daycare, and walks). My children were very sad but understood Maddie would not be happy living in an RV for a year. I chose to place Maddie permanently because I didn't want to uproot her and traumatize her again in a year. I also hoped to move to Oregon when the year was up.

                The director of the foundation began calling me about a month into my trip while I was two states away from California (where Maddie was). I gave her all the information I had (I left all paperwork with with the new family). I emailed her pictures of Maddie with my family, and sent her a report from Maddie's last vet visit that I was able to retrieve on the Internet.

                I have since returned to my home town, as the foundation director said I had to pursue the courts myself to get my dog back. I emailed the new family twice with no response. I explained that I only wanted to make sure Maddie was happy and cared for, as the director of the agency had placed a lot of fear in me concerning Maddie.

                I finally drove an hour to the new families home as I had no response to my emails. The new owner had given Maddie to another couple. I was very angry. I had explained to the new owner my desire to take Maddie back if things did not work out. She explained that she could not get hold of the agency director to explain that Maddie was tearing up her house and wouldn't stop barking (her words). I remained calm as I needed more information from her to find out what really happened to my dog.

                I asked her to call her friend who had helped her place Maddie with a couple who were friends with her. I listened to the phone conversation. The newest owner apparently worked until 9 pm and couldn't call me at that time. I waited, but no phone call came the next day (which was actually yesterday). I am very angry!

                I was clear to all that I wanted Maddie back if things did not work out. I did not want her placed with another family. I stated my wishes many times to both the new owner and the agency director. The new owner could have contacted me directly if she had wanted to. My cell phone number was on multiple papers that I gave her of Maddie's vet records. I gave her every piece of paper I had concerning Maddie. Registration papers, obedience training certificates (yes she had three classes), and all vet records. Her daycare provider was probably listed in the records as well. It would have been pretty easy to find my number had she wanted to.

                So, I am stuck without the knowledge that Maddie is happy and healthy. The new owner wasn't truthful with me, I'm sure. I still don't know why communication failed between the agency and the new owner.

                I realize that I am ultimately responsible for Maddie's happiness and safety. I realize that I should have taken more time to find an agency that had a good reputation. I could have canceled my trip. I could have tried harder to help Maddie adjust to the RV. I could have 1,2,3.... The list continues. But, I can't go back and change things.

                I want my dog back. I screwed up. I don't deserve to get her back, but tough, I want her back. I did everything I though was right for Maddie. I realize that she really just needs her family back. I am giving up traveling after Thanksgiving (sooner if I get her back), and moving on. My home here is sold, so going back there is not a choice. I still have six months leave from work and will use the time to help Maddie adjust to her new home with us! My children have seen a bit of the US and have enjoyed their time on the road. They are anxious to settle down again.

                I received no money for Maddie and would never accept money for her. The fee was for the foundation, not me. I left Maddie with all current health needs met, she was spayed, up to date on vaccines. I left her bed, at least two months of dog food, toys, flee medicine, coats, even a pair of shoes and socks I had planned for her to wear while we hiked. The only thing Maddie needed was a new prescription for heart-worm medicine. She had taken her last dose a week before I placed her. So, money is not the issue. But, people should not go around taking from non profits and not paying the tiny fees they depend on to stay in business. Perhaps Humanity for Healthy Animals Foundation doesn't deserve to stay in business, but that's not in my control.

                So, my original post is mute! I guess I need to find out how to pursue getting my dog back! A new post is in order.
                mom to Maddie GD 4/10/09
                and three human children 9, 10, 14


                • #9
                  It sounds like a sad situation all around. Once you gave up your dog to the new family, unfortunately, what you wanted to happen to her from that point on ceased to matter. She became their dog, and they had the choice to do what they pleased with her, regardless of your feelings on the matter. They've since given her up to yet another family, who now can decide what happens to her. I don't think you are going to have much luck getting her back, sorry. Mostly I'm sorry for Maddie, since she really had no choice in this whatsoever. You made your choices, and since I really don't agree with them, I'll stop talking now.

                  Willow says: Can I have my apple, please?


                  • #10
                    Your post says you decided to home her, you haven't been boarding her so I don't think you have legal action against anyone. It's been so long as well, animals move on pretty quickly and their personalities and traits change from person to person. If someone has her and they want to keep her I think it's best to move on.


                    • #11
                      What kind of contract did you have with the agency?
                      I worked at a dog shelter and know almost all rescue policies are that when you surrender your pet you lose all rights and say to said animal.
                      Did you have any sort of written and agreed upon contract that stated dog whould only be homed once or returned? Were you involved with homing the dog the first time?
                      Also just FYI many times the first home isn't the good home.
                      It makes little sense for a family to pay for a dog after they get it, agency should have collected before hand.
                      Also it is very, very likely amount was not disclosed before dog was homes.

                      If you surrendered your dog like most rescues make you do you have zero legal rights, if you have a contract stating they will return dog if first home is bad and they themselves re-Rehomed the dog you have legal action. But if I was reading right the family re-Rehomed, therefore the rescue has legal action maybe, you have non.
                      So as far as true legal action you have no power at all, all you can do is report new owner to animal care and ask them to check on conditions.

                      You wouldn't believe how many people tried to come back for their pets at my shelter after they surrendered them. We were pretty brutal unless the reason was valid like a home fire, a vacation would have us shaking our heads.
                      Next time board your pet with friends or take them along and make it work. This situation is sad but that's how things go when you don't home a pet yourself.


                      • #12
                        Do you really believe it is best to bring Maddie home now? I would say your best bet is to probably let her go and let her stay in her new home.
                        She has been in 2 homes since she has been surrendered, is she even past the honeymoon period to acclimate to her new home? (month a least.)
                        I would write a letter to her new owners explaining the situation from your perspective making it clear you are available to take her back. It is on a hope and a prayer that they will contact you with an update.
                        It is very difficult not to let anger and guilt cloud your judgement on what is best for Maddie.
                        Play Devil advocate for a minute, would you consider letting Maddie go home today to you while you are in an RV?
                        Myboy RIP at 2 1/2 product of BYB


                        • #13
                          <<I asked her to call her friend who had helped her place Maddie with a couple who were friends with her. I listened to the phone conversation. The newest owner apparently worked until 9 pm and couldn't call me at that time. I waited, but no phone call came the next day (which was actually yesterday). I am very angry!>>

                          So do you have the phone number of this woman who has Maddie? google the number get her address and go to her home.

                          There is no way I would let this go. I would be back at the original owners house each day till I got my dog back. And considering she is only an hour away thats close enough to do that.

                          My fear would be they just dumped her.
                          Divine Acres Great Danes
                          Divine Acres The Legend "Bruce" 5 1/2 months old..5th generation of DA Danes!


                          • #14
                            This is a heart breaking story.
                            Doesn't sound like anyone has done right by this girl.
                            You not only rehomed her but went about it all wrong because you wanted it done in a hurry. That's neither here nor there at this point, I just can't relate because I guess we have different priorities.
                            This "agency" sounds far from ANY sort of rescue, adoption center, shelter or anything of the like that I have ever heard of. Sounds like the only real involvement they had was picking the first family and getting the adoption fees. Which they failed at both. Agree with Angledane, now way of knowing what went on with the fees but you handed them over the dog and all paperwork including the AKC registration. I wouldn't pay anything after that fact either (unless I had clearly agreed beforehand)
                            Now this girl is in another home which you know nothing about. And the first family and the agency have washed their hands of it all.
                            I would be careful about showing up at this families home and demanding "your" dog back. What did this family do wrong? Nothing, they may be the only ones in all this that has done the right thing. They took a dog in need into their home and most likely have no idea what went on with all of you.
                            If I was them and you showed up wanting "MY" dog, it would not turn out well for you. I would be cautious about that move, I wouldn't consider this dog as "yours" in any way shape or form at this point and neither will the legal system. If I were you and wanted to pursue this I would start with a phone call (if you can ever even find them) Explain what happened and that you would be available to take her back IF it wasn't or ever didn't work out for them. There could be a chance with her history. I am sure they didn't get the full story about her and she may be having issues that they were unaware of beforehand. Maybe they are ready to let her go or maybe she is working out great with them. IMO it wouldn't be right to try and take her back at this point. Maybe you can maintain some relationship with them and be able to be in her life in some form. Like I said if I were them and anyone showed up making demands or being unpleasant with me about a dog that I took in and have made part of my family, It would get ugly for you in a hurry and I believe the law would be on their side.
                            Last edited by 6danes; 11-11-2011, 08:14 AM.
                            Silence is golden..... Duct tape is silver.


                            • #15
                              "While HFHAF is not a rescue group, we exist to help relieve the pressure on our local animal shelters by providing the general public with information and resources to ensure their animal companions are properly cared for."
                              This is a quote from the"agency"in question,they do not rescue,foster,place pets or do home checks,they appear to post and crosspost animals in an effort to help an overburdened high kill shelter.They are a 501 and do accept donations.It appears that this dog was one step from being a shelter victim.Dogs are a lifetime committment and the op surrendered her rights to this dog when she gave up that responsibility.Again a dog is passed from home to home and nothing I can do but hope someone cares enough to keep the committment.