Wanda the dog has discerning tastes when it comes to cars. Instead of jumping in adopter Morgan’s spacious Jeep when it’s time to go out, the 150-pound Great Dane opts for a significantly smaller ride: A two-door Dodge Challenger belonging to Morgan’s husband. “She literally takes up the entire backseat,” says Morgan*. But because Wanda’s so big, once she settles in, it’s hard to move her.
That’s one quirk of caring for a Great Dane. Another? Slobber. Everywhere. All the time. So Morgan and husband Rich have “Wanda rags” strategically placed around the house. “As soon as she finishes eating or drinking water, we run up behind her and wipe her face,” she says.
Morgan doesn’t mind being on permanent cleanup duty. She’s just glad to have Wanda with her. Morgan—who works on the HSUS Animal Rescue Team—met Wanda in June 2017, when she was rescued from an unlicensed commercial breeder in New Hampshire. The breeder was charged with cruelly treating Wanda and 74 other Great Danes, and as the cruelty case dragged on, the dogs were held in protective custody. HSUS staff and volunteers cared for them in an emergency shelter, providing extensive medical care for chronic and critical conditions, socialization, exercise and lots of love.
“I was there for two-week stretches at least once a month, every month of the whole case,” says Morgan. During her shifts, Wanda was always by her side, and Morgan couldn’t help but fall for the affectionate giant. “A lot of the volunteers were like, ‘You know that she’s your dog, right? She picked you,’” says Morgan. The breeder was convicted in December 2017 and again in March 2018 after an appeal. As part of the breeder’s sentence, the judge ordered that all dogs in HSUS care be rehomed. Morgan knew Wanda had to come home with her.
In July, Wanda joined Morgan’s Florida family after a three-day drive from New Hampshire. “I can’t remember a time that she wasn’t at our house, as silly as that sounds,” says Morgan. “It’s only been a few months, but she just instantly and seamlessly fit in with everybody.” Napoleon and Tag—Morgan’s two other dogs—became Wanda’s snuggle buddies, while kitties Agnes and Willie cuddle with Wanda in a slightly unconventional way: She likes to gently rest her head on top of them. “She’s very jowly,” says Morgan. The result? The two tiny cats almost disappear from view under Wanda’s drape-like jowls.
At 5 years old, Wanda is approaching senior status. She already suffers from mobility issues and will likely need pain management and anti-inflammatory treatments for life. She tires easily, preferring to nap rather than engage in hardcore play sessions. But Morgan’s happy to indulge whatever Wanda wants—and only partially because you can’t make Wanda do what she doesn’t want to do. “She’s 150 pounds of goofy love.”
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*Morgan’s last name is withheld because rescuers have received death threats following the breeder’s conviction.