Tag Archives: great dane

The Cone is Back!


Just when we thought we were free from the terror of a Great Dane encased in a hard plastic cone…

Just when the other dogs quit cowering in fear at Olive’s entrance into the room…

Just as the cuts on our arms and legs began to scab over…

Just when we finally threw that sad excuse of a cone into the trash,

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the adventure begins again.

For the THIRD time!

We arrived home on Wednesday evening, following two fun-filled days at Kalahari. We were greeted by enthusiastic, happy dogs who were glad to see us.


All was good.


All was well.



*cue scary music*

We open the door to find this!


Blood everywhere.

Olive was let outside for a few minutes and in that time, in the midst of her leaps of joy and pirouettes of happiness, she somehow injured herself. And I mean REALLY injured herself.

We opened the door to find our front porch looking like a scene from The Walking Dead.

Undeterred by the gushing wounds on two of her feet, she continued to bounce around with 100-pound-puppy energy, quickly coating the porch, us, and herself with blood.

It was at this point Molly pondered out loud, as she ran to the medicine cabinet for bandages, “I wonder what it would be like to just have a normal, boring day around here.”

But, alas, nothing is ever simple, uneventful, or boring at Patchwork Farm.

No, everyday is an adventure…whether we want it to be or not. 😉

Thus began adventure # 786,901 at Patchwork Farm: “The day the cone returned!”

It took all the older kids to hold Olive down so that Toby and I could inspect the damage. When the blood kept soaking through the pressure dressings we put on her ankles, we knew the situation exceeded our level of expertise and it was back to the vet for another overnighter for Olive.

She is earning her frequent flyer miles at Rainbow Vet, and we are personally funding our veterinarian’s next European vacation! Ugh.

We were able to pick up Olive the next day. After walking the entire yard we still have no idea what she ran through that tore her up so badly that she needed to get staples in her legs,

But the end result was minor surgery, boxing gloves for paws, and the return of “The Cone.”


She is now on “bed rest” once again-

“And it is SO MUCH FUN!!” I scream with a manic grin.

She also can’t get her bandages wet for 10 days, a challenging feat living in Western Pennsylvania, so she was sent home from the vet with little plastic galoshes that must be tied onto her feet every time she goes outside.

Moving with the grace of a newborn giraffe, she struggles to move through the yard hampered by boxing glove feet, covered in stiff plastic bags.


She has adapted by learning to walk on her tip toes, quite reminiscent of Wile E. Coyote sneaking up on the Road Runner.

It is quite comical to watch,

but the return of the “cone of shame” is not so comical.

We are all suffering from this latest Olive adventure…

Olive is feeling the pain of her most recent injury in her feet.

The kids are feeling the bruising pain of collisions with the “cone of shame” on their arms and legs.

And Toby is feeling the piercing financial pain of Great Dane ownership in his wallet.

Can someone pass me an aspirin?


Olive is Free!


Olive is free!

Oh, what a ride it was from day 1 of surgery #1 to day 10 following surgery #2. Her cone of shame did a fair amount of damage to home, other pets, and the human members of our home before she was finally set free.

You can get a fair idea of how hard she was running into everyone and everything by the sad state of her cone on the final day of confinement before she was set free:

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But we are happy to report that she is free,

she is healing…

And slowly, but surely,

So are we!




Cone of Shame



For a mangy gang of farm dogs, our pups have had their share Beverly Hill’s surgeries. Yes, each and every one of our puppies have, at one time, gone under the knife for the same procedures the rich and pampered ladies of L.A. pay big bucks for.


When Winnie, our English Bulldog, was a puppies she went in for an eye lift. (Her Upper lid was so droopy it was causing her eyelashes to rub against her eye. This surgery was needed to prevent blindness.


A few years later Ellie May, our Bashar (Bassett Hound/Shar pei mix), had to get her ears “quilted.” (This was a result of her breaking the blood vessels in her ears from banging them off walls and furniture.)


This past week Olive went under the knife to have her stomach stapled. (This wasn’t a weight loss procedure. We discovered that when Toby responded to the vet’s plan with, “Ok, but I’m up next!”) Rather this was a preventative measure they decided to take while she was already opened up and under anesthesia for her spaying.


Great Danes, like some other dogs with large chest cavities, run a risk of their stomach flipping. This is quite often fatal as you don’t realize the problem until it is too late. So far we have taken preventative measures by feeding her three small meals a day instead of one large meal, as well as not letting her run or play for 30 minutes after eating.

This surgery makes it so it is pretty much impossible for the stomach to flip.

While they were inside her, spaying her, they went ahead and stapled a portion of her stomach lining to the wall of her chest cavity. Hopefully this prevents any future medical issues.

She came home the evening of her surgery tired, sore, and sporting a cone of shame that would eventually lead to the rest of us being tired and sore!

cone of shame

I know many of you have experienced the challenge, following getting a puppy “fixed,” of keeping a recovering puppy still and calm in the week following surgery. It is no easy feat. Now imagine keeping a 100 pound, emotionally needy, hyperactive Great Dane puppy quiet and still for 10 days after surgery and you can understand our fatigue.

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Prior to surgery she was a clingy pup, as is typical with this breed, but following surgery she is a complete baby and refuses to leave my side or the side of any family member in the area.

Olive is a leaner. She must always be touching someone. She will either stand on your feet and lean against your legs, stand in front of you pressing her head against your stomach, or follow you around so closely that if you abruptly turn there is a collision. This is just part of the charm and challenge of Great Dane ownership. (Which is why she is an ideal therapy companion for Tyler)

Now add to that personality a sharp edged plastic cone and you end up with bruised and bleeding family members. She doesn’t seem to understand that she is limited and has spent the last week tearing up our legs with every lean, and knocking over every breakable in the house as she forces her cone covered self through spaces she used to be able to fit through.

Just when I thought we were in the home stretch of things returning to normal, she broke out of the house when backs were turned, and then proceeded to run, jump, and pirouette around the front yard, in joyful exuberance…finally free of the leash she has been walked on since surgery.

The result: torn stitches, internal bleeding and  round 2 of surgery.

So here we are, back to day 3 of recovery.

So if you stop by and find us all wearing snow suits and shin guards in this 78 degree heat you’ll know why.

The Cone of Shame is Back in Play!

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Olive the other Reindeer



Olive our Great Dane pup is growing by leaps and bounds. She now outweighs half the family, is as tall as Toby when she is standing on her back legs, takes up the entire couch when she is stretched out, and can reach the countertop with all four feet on the ground…

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which has led to a new level of puppy proofing,


And she is not even 10 months old!

With this incredible 9 month long growth spurt comes a lot of feeding (8 cups a day/ spread over three servings) Toby recently repurposed an old bench that had lost its seat, into a new feeding area for our tall girl.

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But even with all the unique challenges of owning a Great Dane, the dividends are huge. Since we brought home Olive, Tyler is a different child. We were led to adopt Olive as a therapy tool for Tyler, our youngest son who suffers from PTSD due to early childhood trauma. He was in a bad place and couldn’t sleep at night because of the paralyzing fear he had that his birth father was going to find him and kill him. He needed to feel safe. He needed a furry companion that he felt could protect him from his worst nightmare which led us to find the biggest, and yet gentlest/most tolerant breed of dog we could. We needed a gentle giant to serve as Tyler’s support dog.

Since Olive moved in Tyler has become a different child.

Olive has not only grown physically in the time we have had her but she has also grown in her ability to obey and follow commands thanks to obedience class. We knew it was important with a dog that big, that we establish control and teach good manners as soon as possible. It is one thing to have a naughty 8 pound Yorkie that jumps up on you, but quite different to have a naughty, 150 pound goliath try to climb up your leg.


Olive has now completed three levels of training and begins the advanced class this week. Rusty has stepped up as the primary trainer who works with Olive in her classes and at home. We found Tyler’s energy, coupled with Olives distractibility, a bad fit for obedience class. Rusty’s calm, but strong presence, is a much better fit.


Olive loves class and looks forward to playtime with her four footed friends, especially Rebel, a German Shorthaired Pointer, who is her best friend.

I am amazed at how much she is learning and how well the classes are working…

for the most part.

But every now and then Olive gets herself in trouble.

For example…

Saturday morning we woke to the clip clopping of feet on the roof above our head.

Our first thought was “Tyler!”

After a quick peek in his bedroom to find him still asleep,

Our next thought was, “Goats!”

It has happened before…


What we never expected when we stepped out the front door was to look up and see this:

It wasn’t the pawing of Dasher, Dancer, or Vixen…

No, it was Olive, the other reindeer!

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Being the owners of an under one-year-old Great Dane is a dichotomy. She has the appearance of a full grown dog. She is as tall as a small pony. But she has the enthusiasm, curiosity, lack of common sense, and klutziness of the puppy she really is. It is a dangerous combination and many a breakable has been destroyed inside the house because of this  combination of energy and enthusiasm, coupled with her complete lack of understanding of how big she really is.

She has gotten “stuck” in many sticky situations as a result, and this morning was a prime example of that.

Near the back of our house the distance between the ground and roofline in significantly shorter than in the front of the house, which means a determined little boy, a pair of climbing goats, or a tall Great Dane in pursuit of a cat can, if they are motivated enough, climb onto the roof.

It appears this is what happened on Saturday morning. Olive, in pursuit of the cat, followed Stripy up onto the roof and then discovered it was a jolly, good place to play. She ran, frolicked and barked, delighted by this grand adventure until mean old Toby made her come back down to earth.

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What a goofy girl she is!

Olive, down girl! Down!

Thanksgiving Blessings



Toby is still working up in Michigan at my sister’s house. He knew he wouldn’t be done with their newly built garage and the addition to their home by Thanksgiving, so discussion soon turned to what the plan was for this upcoming holiday.

As we saw it we had three options: He could return home for a few days to celebrate Thanksgiving with us, we could celebrate the holiday apart so as to speed up his return home, or we could bravely venture north to spend Thanksgiving with him and my sister’s family in northern Michigan.

We always eagerly look forward to our visits to my sister’s home. Our families enjoy each other and meld beautifully, with cousins picking back up, after their time apart, as though no time has passed.

This was the first time, however, that we have visited during the snowy Michigan months. Most of our visits occur in late spring and summer time.

That made me a bit nervous.

Add to the winter travel challenge the fact the kids and I were doing it without Toby and with the three dogs…

Well,  I was feeling a little anxious when I pulled out of the driveway on Wednesday morning.

The GPS said the trip would take us 7 hours. It ended up being closer to 13 hours.

The first quarter of the trip was easy and uneventful as we moved through Ohio. During the second quarter of our trip we slowed down considerably as we hit Thanksgiving travel traffic around Toledo and Detroit. We crawled along for 3 hours. Once through holiday gridlock, our third quarter of the trip was filled with torrential downpours. As one who hates driving in the rain I thought things couldn’t get more nerve racking, but that is because I wasn’t far enough north yet…

The last quarter of our trip took hours. As we drove north the temperature dropped below freezing and all that rain soon turned to  ice and snow. That stretch of road from Saginaw, MI to Gaylord, MI was the most treacherous driving of my life. There was a group of around 50 cars moving together through the dark, creeping along the ice and snow covered highway at 20 miles per hour. SUVs and trucks far more capable and built for Michigan roads were spinning off the highway in front of us as I crawled along the snow-covered ice in my 12-passenger van that was not built for Michigan snows.

We made it and my heart was filled with Thanksgiving for safety and family.

I peeled by fingers from the steering wheel and we were greeted by barking dogs, excited niece and nephews, and the loving embrace of my husband. It was wonderful to see Kelly and Tom and their five kiddos, as well as see all the incredible work Toby has been doing on their home as he transforms their garage into a mudroom, bedroom and gorgeous family room.


My sister also has a new addition…a silver lab puppy named Finn.

Finn and Olive were adopted into our families weeks apart. It was fun to compare Olive and Finn. Olive is a month older but significantly larger. She towered over him and he soon discovered that he could easily maneuver between her legs as they played.


Later during our visit, while on a grocery run to Meijer’s, Kelly and I spotted dog outfits for sale. We couldn’t resist the urge to turn our puppies into winter stuffies, with Olive transforming into a penguin and Finn dressed as a polar bear, reminiscent of Kelly’s favorite childhood stuffed animal, Snow Bear.


Thanksgiving Day was wonderfully relaxing. We spent the day catching up, eating delicious food, playing games, counting our blessings, and enjoying this incredible view:


The snow appears a lot prettier when viewed from the living room window rather than through the van’s windshield!

The kids took advantage of the sticky snow and headed outside for some snow fun.

It was perfect snow for a snowball battle!


It was a beautiful Thanksgiving Day and a perfect start to our Thanksgiving weekend in Michigan!


(Stay turned for more Michigan fun)

An Olive Update


Just a quick photographic update on Olive, our Great Dane. She is 3 1/2 months old and has been with us for 3 weeks. Since she has moved in with us she has gained 15 pounds and grown 3 inches taller. I’ll post more about Olive and the amazing therapy work that she has been helping Tyler with soon, but until then here are some photos to brighten your day!


Olive Goes to Therapy


Olive Goes to Therapy

It sounds like a charming children’s book, doesn’t it?

I think it has the making of a best seller.


Can you picture the illustrations? A tall, lanky Great Dane, stretched out across the couch as the therapist listens attentively with notepad in hand.


Maybe it could be a series of books.

Through the eyes of Olive we could delve into the fears, worries and struggles that can be hard to talk about when you are a child.

And as charming as the illustrations would be what would touch the heart is the story.

What a story it is.

 All about redemption, protection, and the miracle of healing that can come through love….

It has been a miracle in the making.

Comparable to the miracle of the loaves and the fishes, the restoring of sight to the blind, or the raising of the dead,

Jesus is working a modern-day miracle under the roof of my home.

And He is using a clumsy, lanky, goofy, 12-week-old pup to bring a miracle of healing to pass.

Let me set the scene…

Toby is now in Michigan.

Stressors that were lifted during our two-month road trip have re-settled on the household.

Every element that brought anxiety, explosions, and meltdowns last time Toby left home have returned, but miraculously the behaviors have not.

For the first time since Tyler moved in at age 6, he feels safe. Possibly for the first time in his life he feels safe. 

For those that know Tyler the idea that he is anything but confident, strong, busy, and self-assured is hard to believe, but the very things that create that façade are in fact the symptoms of deep-seated fears and anxiety.

Tyler is afraid to be still. His constant movement is a tool to quiet the thoughts and fears that are always lurking just beneath the surface.

As long as he is “doing” he isn’t “feeling.”

This strategy of constant movement has worked for him in the sense that the need to constantly move has resulted in some mad athletic skills, but to maintain a life of constant movement as a solution to keeping the demons at bay is not realistic, long term.

Besides the fact that it drives those around you crazy, makes success in school difficult, and limits future possibilities, all issues… especially when you are also functioning with severe ADHD…there is also the simple fact that at some point your body must rest.

The sun will eventually set.

The house will become dark and quiet.

Your body will scream for rest.

And bedtime must come.

This is when the hardest part of my day begins.

It is when I am emptiest, when I have little to give in the way of creative thinking, energy, and patience that I am called on to tap deep and step into the arena with Tyler as he battles the darkness of his past that threatens to swallow him up every night.

Bedtime is the toughest part of any mother’s day. Even with a child that hasn’t experienced trauma bedtime is the roughest hour of the day. For Tyler and I bedtime is not merely an hour-long struggle but rather a hard, hard journey that begins with tuck-ins at 8 :30 pm and concludes with sheer exhaustion around midnight ,following hours of fears, tears, and meltdowns.

Tyler is haunted by memories of horrific abuse and that abuse has resulted in fears of closets, the dark, bathrooms, being alone, and not being fed.

We have made strides. Growth and healing have occurred. God has sent angels to walk with us…aka Miss Tina, our therapist… But nothing has had a more powerful effect than this silly little dog that God placed in our lives.

We added Olive to our family for the purpose of being an emotional support animal to Tyler. She has fulfilled that role tenfold… and she is only 3 months old.  We have been shocked at the security and emotional stability she has provided so quickly. We expected it to come as she grew in stature. We knew a grown Great Dane would bring Tyler the feelings of safety he needs from the birth dad he fears will find and kill him, and we knew a large, heavy dog would satisfy the need he has for weight on his body when his 150-pound dog would sleep in bed with him,

But we had no idea that this 20-pound, bouncy pup would also bring that same security. It is as if in Tyler’s eyes she is already a warrior standing guard at the foot of his bed. I find myself tearing up at the image of Olive, a babe in need of care and protection herself, sitting at the foot of Tyler’s bed having no idea what a hero she already is in his eyes.

Bedtime has been a miraculous transformation as Tyler lays down to sleep with Olive snuggled up next to him and within minutes…yes, MINUTES…they are both sound asleep.

She helped Tyler face some big fears this week as he showed up and participated in events that caused epic meltdowns a few months ago.  His only request was that Olive come along.

“I just don’t feel scared when she is there,” he explained.


We even were able to tackle some BIG trauma issues in therapy this week thanks to Olive. Tina invited Olive to come to therapy with Tyler. The topic of parent/child relationships and trust were discussed. These are topics we have not been able to address at all previously. They are just too big and scary. But Tina took the discussion in a different direction and made it less personal, thus more emotionally manageable for Tyler, by talking about what a Daddy should and shouldn’t do to/for a baby, using Tyler as the Daddy and Olive as the baby.

WOW! What insight we received into his past as he listed the things he would never do to Olive and the ways he wouldn’t hurt her.


We also got insight into the intense fears he has of parent figures and the fact he views people physically bigger than him as “scary.” These were all things we could never delve into before that we could now begin addressing with Olive laying across Tyler’s lap on Miss Tina’s couch.

I knew that God’s hand was in the circumstances that led us to Olive.

And I knew she was being brought into our life to help Tyler heal.

But I had no idea how powerful her presence would be and the miracles I would be privy to as God takes a lanky, baby Dane, and a busy, broken boy and creates a holy, healing love.

Miracles still happen.

I witnessed one today.