Thanks to Mid-Atlantic Great Dane Rescue League (MAGDRL), a Mayor’s Alliance for NYC’s Animals participating organization and an Animal Care & Control of NYC (AC&C) New Hope partner, a fawn-colored fellow named Buster is getting a fresh start at a new life.
When Buster’s owner turned him into the Brooklyn AC&C shelter right after Christmas, the dog was emaciated and covered in his own feces. On average, a full-grown male Great Dane should weigh about 130 pounds. Buster was 86.6 pounds. His ribs and spine were visible and his body had no muscle tone.
AC&C’s New Hope program contacted Gay Ann Wayne, MADGRL’s New York Adoption-Foster-Surrender Coordinator. “Our initial reaction was to wonder what the owner had done to the dog,” said Gay, since Buster’s skeletal frame and unhygienic condition made everyone suspect neglect and abuse. But Gay quickly learned that Buster’s owner had apparently been working with a local vet on an ongoing basis to treat Buster’s constant, severe diarrhea and dramatic weight loss. After months of failed attempts to clear up the condition, the dog’s health reportedly declined to the point that the owner made the difficult decision to bring the dog to the vet to be euthanized. But instead, Buster’s owner reached out to the New Hope program for help. And that put Buster on a path where “hope” is indeed now the key word to describe his future.MAGDRL took Buster from AC&C the day after Christmas. From the moment she met him, Gay felt certain that Buster had not been a victim of abuse. He showed none of the classic signs. “This was not your typical dog under stress,” she noted. “He waited to go out to do his business. He was able to be alone for an hour. He wasn’t hand shy or afraid of people. And his ears were well cropped and had been well maintained.”
Gay surmised that Buster’s problems had a physical source and once she placed him with foster parents Toni and Rob McCalley, the work of diagnosing and treating Buster’s condition got underway. This included obtaining his prior veterinary records and speaking with that vet, as well as having Buster tested for exocrine pancreatic insufficiency (EPI), which is common in some breeds of dogs. Dogs with EPI cannot produce and secrete from the pancreas enzymes that are needed to digest food and absorb nutrients. Buster tested negative for the disease. So the search for a medical cause for Buster’s condition continues. All of Buster’s medical expenses and those of other Great Danes rescued by MAGDRL are paid for by donations. Learn about how you can to donate to MAGDRL’s efforts.In the meantime, Gay, Toni, and Rob have adjusted Buster’s diet. He was previously fed food rich in grains, corn, and soy, none of which are conducive to good digestion for a dog. Dogs are carnivores and as a rule, they fare best with a meat-only diet. Buster is now on a completely grain-free diet. He gets one cup of food five to six times a day. He is also getting pre- and probiotics to help promote good digestion. In just the first three weeks of being in foster care and on his new regimen, Buster gained a very encouraging ten pounds. Buster’s weight has continued to steadily increase. As of February 27, Buster weighed 114.5 pounds.
Buster also suffers from lick granulomas, a skin condition of “hot spots” or open sores on his paws. Dogs typically get these hot spots from licking and picking at themselves. The usual causes are boredom or stress. Allergies and reactions to vaccines can also cause them. No one is certain how Buster got the sores, but by early February his paws had healed significantly, and, according to Toni, he no longer licks them. The clever and fashionable idea of giving Buster a long sweatshirt that covers his paws and a pair of ankle socks as an alternate accessory helped the healing process. Buster can’t lick and “worry at” what he can’t reach. Toni and Rob also gave their new foster child a fancy collar because, in Gay’s words, “everyone needs to have something of their own.”
Once Buster puts on more weight and gains some strength, he will undergo a test for irritable bowel syndrome, which will require a biopsy to be taken from his bowel. But for now, he is eating and stabilizing and enjoying the foster home he shares with Toni and Rob and three other dogs. He’s playful and has even begun to wag his tail. Foster mom Toni has said to Gay, “He needs love, and I’m going to love him up.” Now isn’t that the best medicine any dog can hope for?
Gay Ann Wayne is not only MAGDRL’s Adoption-Foster-Surrender Coordinator, she’s also a retired cop, a certified therapy dog handler, and a stained glass artist. Gay creates huge pieces (each is about 30″ x 32″) that depict a wide variety of doggy doings: everything from contented canines to rescue dogs pausing in their work for a moment to pose with their human handlers. Gay donates the pieces to animal welfare causes and events, saying it’s her way of giving back.
Thanks to Buster’s new grain-free diet, his digestive system straightened itself out and the Great Dane steadily gained an average of three pounds a week. At the same time the open sores on his paws continued to heal. In early June 2013, weighing an appropriate and impressive 139 pounds, the fully recovered, breathtakingly handsome big boy was adopted! Buster’s new family includes a two-year-old female Great Dane who will romp and play with Buster at the family’s summer home on a lake in upstate New York or at their winter home in the Florida Keys. As a result of the diligence and dedication of Gay Wayne, MADGRL, and Buster’s foster parents Toni and Rob McCalley, this deserving Great Dane is off to a great new life.
About the Author
Thea Feldman is a lifelong animal lover, who is also a writer and editor. She has written many articles about animals and more than 100 books for children. She lives in New York with her favorite companion animal, Zoe Louise.