Dacono family fosters Great Pyrenees

By Christine Hollister
Posted 5/5/09

    “Just look for the house with the two polar bears in the yard,” Dacono Librarian Amy Bruno says when giving directions to her home.     Bruno, along with …

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Dacono family fosters Great Pyrenees


    “Just look for the house with the two polar bears in the yard,” Dacono Librarian Amy Bruno says when giving directions to her home.

    Bruno, along with her husband, Dacono City councilmember Steve Bruno, and their children, serve as a foster family for rescued dogs that come to the Colorado Great Pyrenees Rescue in Brighton.

    Dawn Meaney started the rescue nearly a year ago, and said though she has lost some sleep caring for the typically eight extra dogs in her home, it has all been well worth it.

    “Rescue dogs have this spirit about them that is so thankful,” Meaney said.

    Meaney and several of her furry friends will be at the Dacono Easter Egg Hunt Saturday at 3 p.m. at Dave Osborne Park on the south side of City Hall to show some of the dogs and talk about the breed.

    Great Pyrenees have origins in southwestern France and northeastern Spain where the dogs originally served as livestock guardians. The white color of the coat, calm temperament, intelligence and the nocturnal nature provided safety for the sheep. In the mid 1800s, Britain’s Queen Victoria owned the breed and, in 1885, the Kennel Club of London recognized it in its registry. In 1931, a couple in Massachusetts brought the breed to the United States.

    A female Great Pyrenees’ average height is 25 to 29 inches, with an average weight of 90 pounds. The male averages 27 to 32 inches in height and about 115 pounds. Though it is a large breed, a Great Pyrenees does not require large spaces.

    Meaney works full time as a nurse, and her husband works full time for a car dealership, so they can use all of the helpers they can get at the rescue, she said. In addition to families needed to adopt and foster dogs, volunteers are needed as dog walkers, poop scoopers, accountants and groomers. Donations of dog food and treats are always welcome as well, she said.

    Foster families are provided with food for the foster dog, as well as funds for any vet bills incurred while under their care. When asked who would make a good foster parent for a Great Pyrenees, Meaney said it’s simple.

    “Anybody that can love a dog and has the patience to work with some of these dogs,” she said. “If they can do all of that and just provide a loving, caring home for these dogs short term.

    “It’s amazing what medicine and love and food can do for these dogs,” she said.

    There’s a dog for any type of family. There are dogs that would be good in an apartment, or some that require a 6-foot fence. Nearly all of the dogs are great with children.

    The Bruno family began fostering in October. The family adopted its own 130-pound great Pyrenees, Aspen, three years ago, and Aspen provides the role of protective older sister to the rescue dogs. The family typically takes in a rescue dog for a few weeks at a time. They teach the dog manners and basic rules for living in a human house.

    “We specifically take on dogs that need more help,” Amy said. “You have to be able to think like a dog and act like a dog. These dogs just need somebody to love.”

    Amy said the dogs are ready for adoption, “once they get back into normal dog behavior.”

    “It’s fun watching them become a dog again,” she said.

    Great Pyrenees’ are herd dogs and are very protective of their human ‘herd.’

    “All they want to do is watch the kids,” Amy said. “The neighborhood kids are all part of my herd, including the little dogs. If a stranger walks up to your  yard, the dog would stand between your  kid and trouble.

    “The greatest part is that there are eyes on my children all of the time and it feels very safe,” she said.

    The Great Pyrenees are just as gentle as they are big. Amy tells a story about a few days after they adopted Aspen, her 2-year-old niece decided it was time for a nap and laid down right on top of the large, white dog.

    “Aspen just laid there for an hour and a half, just like a really good mom,” she said.

    Within the breed, there are different dogs for different people, and there’s a dog for everyone. All dogs from Colorado Great Pyrenees Rescue have their shots and are micro chipped.

    “People will get the chance to see them at the egg hunt,” she said. “They can see how gentle and loving they are.”

    Amy said it can be tough sometimes to see a dog leave their home after working with it and seeing it improve so much, but that her family knows the dog will be adopted by a good family, and that they will have the opportunity to help another dog next.

    “Sure, I fall in love with them and yeah, I get attached,” she. “But if I keep a dog then I have to stop doing this. That would be sacrificing the actual good I can do for this breed, choosing one dog over 50 and that’s just not right.

    “Those of us that can foster a dog, you need to be doing it,” Amy said.

    More information on the rescue center, volunteering, fostering or adoption is at www.coloradogreatpyreneesrescue.com.

Contact Editor Christine Hollister at chollister@metrowestnewspapers.com.


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