A Note from Josh:

Hi, everybody!  My name is Josh and I’m one of the filmmakers of The Hidden Tiger.  We’re doing blogs to share our story and my Great Dane, Walter, has been pushing me to share his story.  Basically, Mary Lynn of Tiger Haven not only rescues cats, but also dogs, especially Great Danes.  

Irregardless, here is the tale he wishes to happily share:

My Name is Walter

Full-grown Walter in front of backyard bus.I weighed 2lbs when I was born; a weight with surprising potential.  My first human encounter was based on ownership:  I was his.  I was not my own.  I was property.

Not enough humans understand the potential of a Great Dane.  We grow.  We need.  We love.  Our growing needs require great love because we grow large.

My first human did not understand, did not prepare, and fought to keep me chained to his pedestrian understanding of what I would become.  All that pressured him to attempt new perspective was pushed away and categorized into xenophobic kennels of others.  

I was abused.  I was not loved.  And I was abandoned.

My Time at the Shelter

A word of advice:  Danes’ collars need to be perfectly pressured.  Too tight and we bloat.  Too loose and good luck.  

My next encounter with humans came in the form of shelter workers for what — what I would later learn from Josh was known as an asshole — for an asshole.  She stomped and screamed, she proclaimed and decried.  

I was alone, I was scared and I became timid.  I was growing and humans did not like it.  My body was doing what it was supposed to and I had no control.  Yet, I was blamed.  

Other humans would come through the maze of linked metal and concrete.  Other dogs would be adopted and disappear.  But many more were led away on leashes too tight toward a square room, smelling of death.  It was a hard place to be and though I still loved, I started to lose faith in humans.

I sat there for a bit…lonely, cold and growing bigger.  Soon, no one walked passed my linked metal cage.  Soon, no one but the humans carrying the leashes that were too tight came my way.

But a light grew bright and then she came.  Her hair was messier than the other humans I had seen.  Her fur — which Josh later told me was called “clothes” — was covered in stripes.  She pointed and said, “This one with me.”

My Time at Tiger Haven

Angry tiger charging Walter.

It was cold outside, and though I weighed 160lbs, my fur was thin.  I shivered.  She wrapped me in my very first blanket and brought me to the largest moving dog house I had ever seen (Josh later told me it was how she moved tigers and I was big enough to be one of those…at that moment in the cold and darkness, I had no idea what “tiger” meant).  The engine started, the heat came on and I headed into the scariest unknown I had ever felt.

After what had to be 3 months, the moving dog house stopped, and I heard high sounds in concession (Josh later said it was the key pad making what he called bleeps).  The largest moving dog house I had ever been in revved forward and the clanging of linked metal closed behind me.

I was so scared.  Clanging linked metal was too familiar.  But something was different.  The woman with the striped “clothing” was kind.  I hadn’t experienced kindness before and it was magical.  Later, Josh and I had a conversation about how the meaning of kindness also involves a sense of safety, of what he called ‘back up’, of slivers of moments not being alone.

Regardless, this moment of kindness was what I refer to as magic.  The largest moving dog house came to a stop.  The woman in striped ‘clothes’ turned and said, “Welcome home.”  She opened the door, and down the most fearful steps I went.

Great Danes and fear of stairs

Side note:  I don’t do stairs.  I don’t do too many steps.  May this issue finally be buried next to the first human I ever endured.

Back to the Story

There were unfamiliar sounds echoing throughout this new adventure.  Low rumbles and great calls.  There were others here and I could sense they were the size of me.  Somewhere there in the darkness, I understood how kindness did indeed mean not being alone.


Sunrise.  Crisp morning.  My learning of the meaning of kindness broke away…these others were freaking big and that was not okay.  They were terrifying, and I learned that I was sensitive.  I tried to be happy.  The lady in stripes was so kind.  The other humans cared so much…but those bigger things scared me.

Tiger Haven was a beautiful spread of rolling landscape and happy beasts.  My third encounter of humans taught me their potential of care.  Cats — far larger than I, like really freaking huge — stretched in high grass and yawned in the glow of sunset.  Food was always there.  Concern was always there.  

But again, those things are terrifying and I did not belong among them.

And that’s when the lady in stripes introduced me to Josh.

My Time with Josh

Great Dane with a kittenKindness is being forever warm in one of my mattresses surrounded by my Chihuahuas and my friend, The Cat.  It’s never worrying about anything more than how I can push my humans to feed me earlier than dinner time.

I continue to learn with Josh.  For some reason, he went so far as to make a film about those huge, terrifying cats in cages and how their wild counterparts deserve to be free.  Although that terrifies me on so many different levels, I’ll continue to support his work. 

I’ll continue to support his love and desire to make the world just a little bit better.  He has helped teach me kindness and I will love him for as long as I am able.  And for that, I am the luckiest, slightly-smaller-than-a-tiger being alive.

Watch the film for Tiger Haven!