Another View — Who’s the Good Pups? Great Danes!

"Marty," still a puppy, 21 months old, has won numerous awards already, eight points, including one major. The owners/trainers are Amanda and Craig Tinsen of Rosell Divine Acres; breeders are Janell Heiman and Carolyn McNamara. He was among the many pups who competed at the 32nd annual Illini Great Dane Club’s annual show at the Roma Sports Center. (Photo by Karen Haave)
"Marty," still a puppy, 21 months old, has won numerous awards already, eight points, including one major. The owners/trainers are Amanda and Craig Tinsen of Rosell Divine Acres; breeders are Janell Heiman and Carolyn McNamara. He was among the many pups who competed at the 32nd annual Illini Great Dane Club’s annual show at the Roma Sports Center. (Photo by Karen Haave)

“Gracie” was a winner in the first Saturday show Bitch category Owner is Wendy Whitlock of Iona, IL

By Karen Haave

Finding yourself nose-to-nose with a Great Dane can be a bit disconcerting.

No, not the tall, handsome ones like actor Viggo Mortensen, or the gifted, prolific writer Hans Christian Anderson.

I’m talking about the four-legged canine variety.

The first thing you notice is that they are big.

Not just big, like a German Shepherd or Pitbull. But big, like weighing 140 to 175 pounds, with a height of 28 to 32 inches at the shoulder.

To have one gently place his face on your chest, all flirty and friendly, while you stand there billing and cooing about how wonderful he is, is an experience like no other. Especially if you have never actually stood next to a Great Dane before.

Such was that moment for me — at 5 foot, 5 — covering the Illini Great Dane Club’s annual show and competition in Frankfort.

As a reporter marking 52 years in the industry, I had never written about a dog show before, with the exception of Crete’s cute and entertaining Reindog Contest at Christmastime. And I don’t think that counts.

Nevertheless, when my editor, Nick Reiher, asked me to go, I thought it sounded like fun, so I accepted the assignment.

More than just fun, it turned out to be informative, because there is so much I never knew about Great Danes.

For starters, there was their size, and how surprisingly sweet they are. They are loving, courageous and naturally protective of their humans, but not considered aggressive.

Unlike other canines, they do not respond well to harsh discipline. Gentle encouragement, with treats at the end, gets the job done, according to the trainers I met at the Roma Sports Center, where the show took place recently.

They are still considered puppies until age 3, even though they probably have the appetite of teenagers.

They are quiet and well-behaved — no growling or non-stop barking from them, at least not those at the show.

And last, but not least, their owners are extremely proud of them, especially when they take home a ribbon.

Show Chairman Karen Mayfield-Jones said 50 Great Danes from across the country were entered in this year’s show.

“Many dogs return over the years and often compete in different categories. It is incredibly rewarding to see older dogs still able to compete in our Veteran Class,” she said.

The requirements to participate in the show are strict.

“Every dog must be recognized and registered as a Great Dane by the AKC,” she explained, “not spayed or neutered unless in our Competitive Veterans class, have no disqualifying faults (not under minimum height, no split nose or docked tail, and must be one of the AKC recognized colors), and be of sound health and up-to-date on vaccinations. For the Midwest Derby puppy match, the dog must be between 3 months and 18 months. To compete in the specialties, the dog must be 6 months or older.

The judges look for which dog best meets the Official Standard of the Great Dane as approved by the Great Dane Club of America and the American Kennel Club.

“(It is) unknown as to which dogs may have been rescued and are entered in our show,” Mayfield-Jones said. “Rescued dogs that meet our entry requirements may compete. Our club supports rescue activities and education, and more is available on our website: https://www.illinigreatdaneclub.com/Rescue.html .

“The best part of the event is the satisfaction of working with others that care deeply about the interests of Great Danes in a way that promotes the breed.

“Our puppy we whelped in July is entered in the show. It is wonderful to see the dogs benefit from the socialization and confidence they gain both in and out of the conformation ring at our show.

“They are large, loveable dogs that are remarkably beautiful for their elegance, balance, and power thanks to generations of refinement. For some people, they are the ultimate canine companion. Unlike other breeds, they can’t hide behind a long coat or flashy attitude. Great Danes are honest and true.”

Mayfield-Jones said it was unknown if any of the entrants were from the local area, but many did come from across the Midwest, and some from Wisconsin and Indiana.

“The Illini Great Dane Club has a long history in Frankfort and Will County,” she noted. “2024 marks the 32nd annual show of the Illini Great Dane Club and the third show at the Roma Sports Center.

“Our club was originally called the Will County Great Dane Club, and our show was held at the Hallmark Sports Center in Frankfort, IL from 2005-2019. Following the pandemic, the site location was changed to the Roma Sports Center in Frankfort.

“Our club is a non-profit one dedicated to the advancement of the Great Dane breed,” she pointed out. “These shows give the public the opportunity to see the dogs and learn about the breed from actual owners. We meet each month, and anyone wanting information regarding membership should contact our Membership Chair, Linda Clesi: [email protected] .”

Karen Haave is a freelance reporter.

“Simon” is just a puppy, 11 months old won Best of Opposite in Sweepstakes Owner is Laurie Lutton of Fort Wayne.

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