by Gigi

My journey with this Great Dane began a cold morning in December when I found him lying on the side of the road. As soon as I approached he ran off into the woods. It took me until January to find out where he was hiding in the woods. I had brought hot dogs with me to see if he would come to me to eat. He wouldn’t. He just growled and stayed as far away as he could.

I put food on the cover of the dish I had carried food in and walked away.
After 30 minutes he came and ate. As soon as he was finished he ran away.

I had left hot dogs and chicken out for him to find as he came out of the woods. He was so thin and weak. It broke my heart to see him in this state. Regardless of the weather I continued taking him food. I wanted him to associate me with food and learn to trust that I wasn’t going to hurt him.

From January until the end of March I went every day, twice a day to leave food out for Ivan. I sat on a stool on the opposite side of where he was eating so that he knew I was there. Many days I froze or got drenched from the pouring rain. I refused to miss a feeding. He would usually wait for me to leave before he would come to eat. The open wound on his front leg was in horrible condition and I have no idea how he got it. I had started putting antibiotics in his food to hopefully start the healing process. In February I had to slowly move his feeding spot onto our land and off our neighbors land. My husband and I brought a crate and covered it so that he would have a dry place to sleep. He never used it. He would go in to get his food, but would not rest. I decided to call him Ivan….short for Ivan the Great.

After two and a half months of getting Ivan to trust me, he finally came up to me and allowed me to pet him. I cried the whole time as I had been hoping for this day to come for a long time. He had a collar on but no tags. I had advertised looking for his owner. I called all the Animal Control offices and there was not even one inquiry or response for him.

Each visit he would now come and sit beside me and let me pet him. He knew I kept hot dogs in my pocket and would nudge me to give him a piece. It would have been easy to put a leash on him at this point but I wanted it to be his choice to follow me home and I did not want to risk breaking his trust with me.

He was very gentle taking the hot dog pieces out of my hand.

This was a reward for Ivan after he showed such courage in trusting me after almost three months into our journey together.

He took his bone and went to eat about two feet from me. My rescue cow, Breaker, the largest one in the photo, was keeping a watchful eye on Ivan.

Three months into our journey Ivan stood in front of me and barked and barked and barked and lunged at me for almost 40 minutes. It was so loud that my husband who had heard him from our house called me to see if I was okay. When Ivan finished I told him that I was going to go home and if he wanted to come with me that would be great. I collected my things and walked off. Ivan was following behind me. I stopped and he came up to me. I petted his head and told him he was a good boy and we went home. I did not put a leash on him. I rested my hand on his neck and we just walked along together. He did not stay long once we got home and I worried we would have to start all over again. I worried all night that he would not be there for his feeding in the morning. My worst fears came to light for when I took him his food and called for him he did not come to eat. I stayed for hours calling for him to no avail. I went home and returned at dinner time. Still no sign of him. I went home heart broken and crying. The next morning when I took his food I called to him and he came out of the woods to eat and then came over to me. We walked home together and he never left again.

This is Ivan’s first time in our house after following me home. We opened both doors so he wouldn’t feel trapped and he went in one and out the other several times before he settled down. He slept for hours.

The next morning I tried to give him a bath. He would not get in the tub until I got in first. As soon as I went in Ivan jumped in and we both ended up having a lovely warm bath. He was so patient and loving.

I gave him his leftover reward after his bath.

Several days into our new routine he started snuggling with our granddog Kenzie. They were best buds right from the start.

Ivan never left my side from the moment he followed me home. Wherever I was, Ivan was.

Ivan’s ‘Rocky’ impression. He had gotten wet from the rain, but wanted to eat before he was completely dried off.

As I said, Ivan never left my side. He loved to go fishing with me and waited patiently as I tried to catch a fish.

My velcro fishing buddy.

Ivan went to work with us every day. Here he is on his lunch break soaking up the sun.

He loved to ride in the car and he went everywhere with us.

Ivan with his new toy. He would present his toy ‘Wubbie’ to anyone who would come to see him.

We would get many looks from passerby’s on our walks.

Ivan has learned to just ‘roll with it’

Ivan loved to sit in the sun on our porch and just relax after so many months of unrest and starving.

With the help of our veterinarian Ivan’s leg wound was improving.

Ivan, my heart and my protector. He lived with us only 7 short months before he passed away from bone cancer that had spread to his lungs. I will be forever thankful for my journey with him and for the time I had with him. I miss him terribly.

© October 2021

Tempt enlightenment, explore alternative points of view…. Just Saying Is All !

Tempt enlightenment, explore alternative points of view