She came to us in the summer of 2008. She was listed on a hot list of dogs that were about to euthanized in the U.S. As I volunteered for the local Great Dane rescue at the time, and was looking to bring a new pup into the family, I immediately took notice. The reason she was pointed out to me was that she had been found wandering the streets of Galveston, TX, following Hurricane Ike, when that storm devastated the city and its surrounding environment. Since she was not a purebred Dane (the shelter listed her as Lab/St. Bernard. I can only guess as to what led them to that decision), my rescue would not intervene. They only handled purebred Danes. And it was more than obvious to us that she was at least part Great Dane.
She was completely feral, having reverted to her basest survival instincts. She was aggressive in every way, except with people. Though microchipped, her former family had gone missing and never checked in to claim her. Her former address was likewise destroyed in the storm.
I loved the pic the shelter posted of her, and called them. I asked if they could delay her “execution” until I could drive down there and meet her. They agreed, giving me a scant five days.
The drive was brutal, but I was eager to save this animal’s life if I could.
At the Texas shelter, I was led into a private room, and Jasmine was brought in moments later. She came in grinning, wagging her enormous tail like a drummer in a marching band. She came up to me and rolled herself over on the floor belly up. All six-and-a-half feet of her. She was enormous, and definitely did not fit her Disney princess name. I knew that would be the first thing I changed.
I loved her immediately.
When I stood up to leave, she leapt up, putting a gigantic paw on each of my shoulders. From that vantage point, she was looking down into my face. And then she gave me a big, slobbery kiss that was like being hit in the face with a wet washcloth.
Speaking with the shelter staff, I agreed to adopt her, with the caveat that if her original family came for her, I would gladly relinquish her to them. They never checked in nor contacted us. For all I knew, they’d been killed in the storm, or moved far away and never looked back.
As we set out on the road, I thought long and hard about a new name for her. It had to sound like her current name, but couldn’t be delicate and dainty, for this pup as anything but. My favorite band was a British group called Yazoo (UK), Yaz here in the States. It was a spinoff from the ubiquitous Depeche Mode. And so the name stuck. She was dubbed Yaz on a highway somewhere in the middle of nothingness.
I was trepidatious because I wasn’t sure how I was going to be able to introduce her to Ozzie and Malai. It was rough going. She was definitely toy/food/water/dog aggressive. There were numerous scraps between the three of them. Yaz had obviously had some basic training with her original family. She sat when she wanted something, and asked to go outside when she needed to. I had to tend to her separately from the other two for the first few weeks so fights didn’t break out. Feeding time was the hardest, but I came up with a system that worked for everyone, and made all three pups feel at ease.
It took a full five months of persistence, patience, calm, and consistency to get her to a point where she could live with us in harmony. There were many times in which I thought I couldn’t do it, that it was nigh impossible to train her. Then she’d do something so altruistic, it broke my heart. And I’d reset my goals and plod ahead.
Now, Yaz is one of the kindest, sweetest, gentlest dogs I know. She’s loud, a tomboy, and loves to romp like a puppy ten times smaller than she, but she’s got a gigantic heart to match her personality.
It was time well spent, retraining her and bringing her into our home.