Schmeichel, the Greatest Dane

Peter Schmeichel 1991 from WikipediaThe name Schmeichel is well-known to two groups of people, soccer fans and Coronation Street fans.  Peter Schmeichel is a great Danish goalkeeper who played for Manchester United.  It was in his honour that young Chesney Brown named his Great Dane puppy.

Schmeichel the dog has been on Coronation Street since 2003.  We watched him grow up.  Sometimes we wondered where he was when months would pass without sight of or reference to him.  Then he’d reappear – and steal the scene.

This week, on Corrie’s Canadian airtime, Schmeichel was euthanized.  It was the saddest death scene I’ve seen in a long time.  He had not been feeling well and liver disease, probably cancer, was the vet’s diagnosis.  It was a very sad time for Schmeichel’s fans and fans of Young Great Dane Schmeichel and ChesChes and his friend Kirk.  They have both been Schmeichel’s lifelong faithful companions.

Liver disease claimed the life of my beloved German Shepherd Jack, so I know how Chesney feels.  Here’s information on symptoms and treatments.  It’s not a problem associated more with Great Danes than other breeds.  There are those too.  Addison’s Disease, bloat or gastric torsion, hip dysplasia, hypothyroidism and cardiomyopathy are named as particular dangers for the breed.

Gastric torsion or bloat is common in all deep-chested dogs.   Precautions to take are avoid vigorous exercise right before or after eating, feed more small meals rather than one large one, and put food and water bowls in an elevated stand to lessen chances of gulping air down with the food (click here to see my easy way to raise bowls).  If your dog has severe stomach discomfort, get him or her to a vet Schmeichel's death scene with Ches and vetimmediately.  Gastric torsion (flipping and twisting of organs) can kill very quickly.

Cardiomyopathy is associated with either heart beat irregularity or heart congestion.  It claimed the lives of two Doberman friends of mine (here).  It can kill quickly or slowly, but either way, it’s not curable.

Hip dysplasia is where the bone doesn’t fit properly in its socket and is a common problem especially in large breeds (but can affect small dogs too).  Care taken when they are pups can help.  A food that helps their body and bones grow at the same rate so their bones give adequate support for their weight.  Keeping your dog from getting Schmeichel with Ches in clinic penoverweight at all ages avoids extra strain being put on bones.

Like other giant breeds, Great Danes don’t have a long life span: 7 to 10 years, so Schmeichel’s on-screen lifetime was accurate.  Still, like Ches, I hoped he’d live another ten.  Ches went through every emotion and response when faced with the finality of his dog’s illness, but he reluctantly made the right decision.  Weigh the probabilities in pain and trauma for the dog against the possible outcomes, and don’t let the dog suffer needlessly so that you feel you did everything you could.

Schmeichel 4 on Coronation Street set with trainer, Ozzie and actorsI wish the real Schmeichel all the best in retirement.  He, also named Schmeichel, is the 4th dog to play the role, taking it over from his grandfather.  He truly will be missed.  (He was, not surprisingly, my scene of the week pick.)

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