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It’s such a long time ago that I can’t remember the man’s real name. So I will call him Bird Man because it was birdsong that I heard coming from the basement one afternoon; I was strolling with my Dane past an apartment building in the city where I used to live. We’d never taken that route before – we used to just walk and walk where our feet and mood would take us, discover new things and places everyday, meet new people and dogs.

Bird song was coming from the open door of the workshop and we just stopped listening. “Hey, is that a Great Dane I see?” he shouted and climbed up the steps smiling a big smile.
He made a fuss of my dog who made a fuss back – that was a good sign as she was the best judge of character – and Bird Man told me all about his own Dane; he showed me old photographs of an imposing black dog with a frail old lady. They were both smiling for the camera. The man had trained the dog to fetch his mom’s groceries. She would put the notes and the shopping list in a purse fastened on his collar and send him off with a basket to the shop. Only the shopkeeper was allowed to reach and open the purse and put in the change, take the basket and put the shopping in. The big dog would then carry the basket home to his lady.

I remembered the Bird Man’s Dane when I came across the pictures of Willow on my Facebook friend Tony’s profile.

Willow collecting the milk, bringing in the post. She did this on her own accord, as soon as she heard the milkman’s float and the postman’s van at the gate she was out there – she would grab the milk crate or the basket -she never got it wrong- and bring them home.


I wanted to learn more about this dog so this is what Tony had to say:

Willow was born Toscade Tai Chi (Toscade Desert Storm x Toscade Tiger Lily) in July 2002 and I purchased her from the breeder 8 weeks later. She became the subject of much publicity over the years, being used for film work and posing for magazine articles. Willow was a nice looking example of the breed –perhaps a little large for a bitch at 34 inches- and excelled at agility; her greatest ability was obedience, for although we never entered her for trials, she could do an amazing array of ‘tricks’.

It was her decision to meet the milkman at the gate, she would have taken the ‘empties’ down the previous day and when the milk float turned up, she would trot down and collect the four bottle crate. Same with the Postman, she knew when it was his vehicle and would grab a basket and go down the drive, meeting ‘Jock the Post’ half way.

For the first 3 years of her life, we lived in a Castle and at night, Willow would delight in entertaining the film casts by escorting them carrying a lantern in the dark of the Castle inner courtyard. There was also a resident Newfoundland and the two of them would play for hours.

She was amazing one day, when she intercepted some vandals, but that’s another story


Thank you my friend Tony Halls for sharing this special Great Dane with us.

May we have dogs like Willow, good all-around dogs, to the end of our days and our children’s children’s days and as long as there are people on Earth; because where would we be and how would we cope without them ?

We mustn’t take them for granted. We must do what we have to do to make sure we don’t lose these precious companions and that they don’t lose these qualities that make them so special.

Dogs ready to go anywhere and do anything.

Good dogs like Bird Man’s dog, helping out his mama.

Good dogs like Willow, bringing home the milk.