Rigel Beta Orionis, circa 2001 - 2 November 2012
We wanted to give a rescue Dane the kind of life Nandi enjoyed. We adopted Rigel through Rocky Mountain Great Dane Rescue. He had been in a shelter in Kansas City after being picked up as a stray. We don't know anything about his history except that he was very malnourished and had been an outdoor dog probably all his life. Never having rescued a Dane before we expected to have more behavioral problems, but this wasn't the case. He was easy to house train, learned commands fast (Sit! and High Five! were his best), and was one of the most loving Danes we've known. He and Bella were the best of friends, and his company pulled Bella from the depression she was in after Nandi's death.
After we lost Bella in 2011, we adopted Maia to be a new friend to Rigel, now quite senior. She helped keep him interested in life, relentlessly playing with him and encouraging him to run around outside. Rigel was perhaps the oldest Dane we've had. We don't know just how old, but it wouldn't suprise us if he reached 12. In his last year he was completely white, and quite arthritic. He seemed always to be having brushes with death, as he grew weaker in his hind quarters, bloated several times, and lost most interest in food. Nevertheless, he always came back from the edge, and fought until the last couple of days. Just a week before he died, he was still going on walks, herding goats, and looking for old deer legs to gnaw on.
We would encourage anyone who can to adopt or foster a needy Great Dane. There are many thousands of them in rescue across this country. Even if you are not in a position to bring a Dane into your home, there are many things you can do to help Dane rescue.
See Ginnie Saunders's site for a comprehensive list of Great Dane rescue organizations around the world.