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  • Writer's pictureJulie Nelson

150 pounds of Groovy

This is a story that dates back about 10 years but it is one of the more meaningful and amazing animal stories of my life.

Groovy was one of the larger Great Dane’s you’ve ever met and simply a stunning boy. Take him anywhere, draw a crowd. A real magnet, this handsome boy, all 150 pounds.

We got Groovy as a puppy in 2004. He was amazing. We worked through a rare and difficult adolescent disease with him (hypotrophic osteodystrophy, HOD … a very painful, yet treatable bone disease in very large breed puppies) and he grew into an amazing and beautiful 150 pounds of goofy groovy love.

2007 was a tough chapter. We re-homed him because he bit our neighbor … she’s ok but it sent her to the hospital. An ankle biter is one thing but big dogs have big teeth. He was in our yard on a leash, had always been sweet with people but it happened. It was a very difficult decision but we chose to re-home him.

We found a sweet semi-retired man, Ed, who lived on 10 fenced acres outside of San Antonio with a female Dane. Groovy would be the 6th Dane in Ed’s life. We stayed in touch for a couple years, visited twice, called on holidays. We had an agreement that if anything ever happened, if he could no longer keep Groovy for whatever reason, he was to contact us.

Fast forward to 2011. Sunday, April 3rd we get a phone call from the microchip company following up to see if we had picked up our dog from the shelter. This was confusing, our two dogs are right here. “We have a male Great Dane, Marmaduke, in the San Antonio shelter and your name is on the microchip.” (Everyone always wanted to call him either Marmaduke or Scooby Do because that is exactly what he looked like.)

Groovy had been picked up by the Schertz Animal Patrol around March 21, malnourished, 120 pounds, dehydrated and a gunshot wound to the hip. The San Antonio Humane Society took him in March 24 for medical treatment and re-homing. Our name was alternate on the microchip and they had been trying to reach Ed for over a week with no response. We called his home (disconnected), called his cell and left a message (no response). Ed lived by himself and we were immediately concerned and called 911. We did not have the address but remembered where he lived and found the house in less than 30 seconds on Google Earth. The Bexar County dispatch very willingly sent a sheriff out to the house … Julie on the phone with the dispatch, the sheriff on the radio with the dispatch, Julie led them directly to the house over the phone.

There was a for-sale sign in the yard. And a tenant. The tenant said that Ed moved back to CA a year ago and left Groovy with him, said Ed was coming back for Groovy. But at this point the tenant’s story began to fray. Julie could hear all of this over the phone on the dispatch radio and said to the dispatch, “He’s lying. His story has holes in it.” The dispatch was wonderful and basically said we’re on your team, don’t hang up, we’re going to help you. Tenant then said he had given Groovy to a friend. At this point we were pretty much lose the timeframe of what happened next for Groovy.

We contacted PAWS of Austin (Great Dane rescue) for help because we did not want anyone (tenant, “friend” etc) to get their hands on Groovy. PAWS hooked us up with the San Antonio Great Dane rescue as we wanted their help in getting him out of the shelter. Initially, we were assuming the Dane rescue group would be instrumental in his fostering. We learned the next day that they were way over capacity in their foster program and that we were best suited to foster him. We were open to this, had clarity about moving forward but had no idea what we were going to do with the big Groovster once we had him in our hands.

On a side note, we had just recently fostered two dogs (our first fosters ever … a mangy pit puppy, Torchy, who became a bit of an APA rock star and then a handsome lab, Murphy, through Heart of TX Lab Rescue) so we quickly realized that if we could handle those guys, we could handle Groovy for a while. (We had two permanent dogs at the time, Austin Dog & Boy Howdy … 125 pounds total.)

On Tuesday, April 13, I took Murphy to his new forever home at the same time Kay & her sister, Melanie, picked up Groovy from the SA shelter. When Groovy walked down the hallway in the shelter, 30 pounds lighter and 4 years older than when we had last seen him, old and grey, bad hips & eyes, an old man … it was an emotional reunion, like seeing an old friend. On the drive home, Mel gave Kay a questioning look … Kay’s immediate and honest response, “Mel, we have no plan.” Kay and Mel drove by my office on the way back into town for a parking lot reunion.

We have no idea what happened to Ed or why he did what he did. In our hearts we choose to believe it was circumstantial and that he was doing what he felt was right at the time. He genuinely loved Groovy so we truly do not know what happened.

You probably see where this story is going. Groovy moved back in with us, permanently, back on the couch, adjusting and healing. He gained weight (7 cups of food a day plus a myriad of joint, inflammation and boost-the-boy supplements), and the gunshot wound healed.

The Universe provides. We had never really healed from 2007 when we re-homed him and carried a lot of sadness around that chapter. There is a reason we had finally decided to foster. There is a reason we had recently maneuvered our lives into a peaceful manageable space. There is a reason we had PAWS of Austin on speed dial. There is a reason we still had the enormous dog crate in the attic. And his leash.

Groovy was only seven years old when he moved back in; that’s old for a Dane. We kept him comfortable, very comfortable, the rest of his life until he left us (bloat) less than a year later. We end this story with a reflection on coming full circle. We are firm believers that the Universe provides when you are ready. Groovy came back.

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