My husband and I recently rescued a six month old Great Weimar (that’s a Great Dane/ Weimaraner mix) named Annie. Being part Great Dane, she is already almost three feet tall from head to paw and weighs just over 60 pounds. From the night that we picked her up in Alabama she has been a BIG responsibility…
Day One with Annie:
It’s a fine, hot, summer Sunday in Tallahassee, Florida, and my husband and I had just gotten home from having a nice lunch with our pastor, his wife, and two other couples who were new to the church. The day before, we had gotten word that there was a puppy that needed to be adopted and we were waiting on the owners to contact us. As we lounged around our apartment on this lazy Sunday evening, my phone buzzed indicating that I had received a text message. I checked the message and delightedly reported to Kyle that we could pick up the puppy that night.
After making a quick smoothie for dinner, we drove to Alabama to pick up our new puppy. As an aside, I would like to say that we only agreed to adopt her because we were lead to believe that she had been treated well and was just too much for her previous owners to handle. We had been told that she was “too hyper” for their “growing family”. The plan was to meet up with the owners in the parking lot of Lowes in Dothan, Alabama. Dothan is approximately two hours from the southeast side of Tallahassee and it was near enough to the owners to be a feasible meeting place. About 30 minutes out, I sent the owner a text message letting him know that we would be there soon. He said that he was there in a Ford F150 with a 4-wheeler in the back. As we drove up, it wasn’t hard to find him because the truck was very prominent with the 4-wheeler sitting high in the bed. It was around 8:00pm CST when we arrived in that Lowes parking lot and got our first look at the newest addition to our little family.
The newest member of the McNease family was certainly not a small one. Although we expected her to be large because of her breed combination, the pictures we were sent via text message did not accurately depict just HOW BIG this puppy was. We were surprised to find her to be quite a bit larger than we expected. The first thing we noticed were her paws. They were huge! Shocked, Kyle said, “Look at her paws!” In response, the owner (whose name is Tyler, or so we were told) said, “As you can see, she’s got a lot of growing to do.”
It was a rather quick exchange and it seemed like her previous owners wanted to get rid of her in a hurry. We asked them what her name was as Tyler picked her up and put her in our back seat. “It’s Annie,” he said. His wife was sitting in the passenger seat of their truck wiping the tears from her eyes and I could hear their young son talking in the back seat. The couple wanted an adoption fee for Annie which we gladly paid to them. When we asked them who to make out the check to, they said they would fill it in. This should have been a red flag but we were so excited and anxious about our new puppy that we completely missed it. We didn’t think much of the hurried nature of the meeting as we drove out of the parking lot and got back on the road home.
In an attempt to make Annie more comfortable with us, I sat in the back seat with her and scratched her head and ears a bit. At first, she wanted to explore her new surroundings and had no intention of sitting down. After a few minutes on the road, though, she settled in for the ride and laid her head in my lap. We were almost home when I discovered the first of many problems.
She rolled over on her back so I could rub her belly (which she loves, by the way) and we had just pulled into a gas station. It the limited lighting, I saw something moving on her stomach so I reached up and turned on the light. What I found was less than desirable. She was covered in big, nasty fleas! They were crawling all over her skin and under her fur. Oh no! I thought. We have carpet in our apartment and fleas will ruin everything. I panicked. My husband had dealt with fleas before so he was much calmer. We stopped at Walgreens, the only store that was open at midnight on a Sunday, as we got back into Tallahassee. He found some flea killing shampoo and spray and we prayed that it would help us in our dire situation.
When we arrived home, I took Annie out of the car and walked around for a few minutes until Kyle could get upstairs, get a pot full of water and change into a swimming suit so he could wash her outside in the parking lot. He scrubbed her down as I tried to keep her still in the middle of the night in the parking lot of our apartment complex. Since we couldn’t be sure the fleas were completely gone, Kyle wrapped Annie up in a sheet and carried her upstairs and straight into the bathroom. He bathed her again in the bathtub and we tried to quarantine her in the bathroom to reduce the risk of the fleas getting into our carpet. We proceeded to wash all of our clothes and towels and sheets that had been used to handle her. Five loads of clothes and three showers later, we tried to get her to settle down in the bathroom for the night until we could take her to the vet in the morning. It was 2am and she was terrified. She was in a new place with new people and all we had done was bathe her, spray her, and lock her up in a bathroom. Kyle decided to stay with her in the bathroom through the night to keep her calm.
At 6:00am EST, my alarm goes off and we wake up (or rather, I wake up because Kyle has been awake all night). The closest veterinarian clinic to us opens at 7:00am so we got ourselves dressed, wrapped Annie up in a sheet, carried her out to the car, and drove to the vet for a flea dip. Kyle ran inside to see if we could get her in for a bath and flea dip right away. He explained our situation to the vet tech and then filled out the paperwork. Everything seemed to be going smoothly until the vet tech informed Kyle that they had to have a record of her vaccinations before they could do anything. The only problem was this: we had no idea where she had gotten her shots from or which shots she had received. All we knew (or thought we knew) was that the previous owners claimed to have gotten her puppy shots done. The vet refused to even let her in until they could verify that she had her rabies and other essential vaccines so I had to get in touch with the previous owners to find out about her vaccinations. Because of the time zone difference, we had to wait an hour for them to even be awake and answer our text messages and phone calls. We didn’t get a call back but I got a text message saying that she had gotten shots at Ozark Vet Clinic. Thinking we were in the clear, we told the vet tech the name of the clinic. She wrote it down and then asked, “And what name would she be under?” Kyle and I looked at each other and then back to the vet tech. We had no idea what the previous owner’s last name was. All we knew was that his first name is Tyler and that they live somewhere near Dothan, Alabama. I sent Tyler a text message hoping, but not holding my breath, that he would tell me the name Annie’s records would be under so we could get the vaccination information from the Ozark Vet Clinic. No such luck. His response was one word: “Annie”. We told the vet tech this information and were able to leave Annie while they tried to get her medical records.
On the way home, we decided to stop at the gas station to vacuum out the car after a flea filled night and morning. We drove up to the vacuum and took out all of the mats and put all of our belongings in the trunk. The vacuum only takes quarters so Kyle ran inside to get change. He was inside for a few minutes and then I saw him walking out with a man carrying a gas can. Kyle said something to the man who then walked back to his new-ish blue hybrid vehicle that was parked at one of the pumps. When Kyle gets back to the car, I asked him, “Who was that guy?” Deep down, I already knew the answer to my question. He told me that the man was asking for money to buy gas. He also told me that the cashier refused to give him change so we were going to have to put all of the mats back in the car, go home, and get some quarters. He said, “I told the guy that I would give him some money when we got back because I had to go home and get change.” I had to laugh a bit because of the absurdity of it all. Here we were scraping for change to vacuum out our flea infested car because we rescued a big puppy with a flea problem we didn’t know about. What would make this experience even more memorable? Getting hit up for gas money by a strange man at the gas station where we can’t even get change to vacuum fleas out of our floor mats—that would do it. The absurdity didn’t stop there either. As we are putting the mats back in the car to go get change elsewhere, the man drives up in his supposedly gasless vehicle, and sticks his hand out of the window. “Here,” he said trying to give Kyle a handful of nickels, pennies, and dimes. Kyle said, “No, no it’s fine. The machine only takes quarters but thank you.” You would think that the man would say something like “Good luck” or “Have a good day”, right? Think again. He said one of the strangest things possible at that moment in time, or at least it seemed strange to two sleep deprived, stressed individuals like us. The man’s response was this: “Well, we’re supposed to help each other.” Now, that phrase could seem perfectly benign. His tone and the look on his face told us otherwise. It was a mocking tone and he had a look on his face as though to say, “I want you to feel guilty for not giving me gas money by offering my very last penny to you.” He lingered there beside us for about 30 seconds more and it was extremely awkward. After we sat there for a few minutes attempting to process what had just occurred, we returned home.
Back at our apartment, we immediately went into cleaning mode. Kyle took the car to the gas station to vacuum it out and clean any possible flea residue from the fabric. I washed several more loads of clothes and vacuumed every last inch of carpet in our three-story, 1,150 square foot apartment as well as all fabric furniture. Sweaty and exhausted, we both tackled the bathroom with the vacuum, some bleach, and a lot of elbow grease.
Just as we were sitting down to rest our weary eyes, the phone rang. It was the vet clinic. The vet tech (who was very kind, I might add) told us that she spoke with Ozark Vet Clinic and no records could be found on Annie. It had been several hours and the vet tech said that Ozark Vet Clinic went through all of their records and had nothing that fit the description of a Great Dane/ Weimaraner mix puppy with an owner named Tyler who had gotten puppy shots sometime in the past six months. We realized at that point that we may have been duped. She was flea ridden AND didn’t have her puppy shots yet. Being the caring people that we are, we told the vet tech to go ahead and give her all of the necessary puppy shots while she was there. One hundred and seventy eight dollars later, we had Annie bathed, flea treated, and vaccinated. Ninety dollars, pet treats, and a dog bed later and she was home, comfortable, and happy. It was certainly a wild 24 hours and that was just the beginning…
Have any dog owners had similar experiences? Tell me about it in the comments. I’d love to hear your puppy stories!
Come back next week for more of our adventures with Annie.
Until next time…
J. G. McNease