Relocated Wolfeboro Great Danes enjoying new lives – wherever they are

  • This is a post-adoption photo of Wanda, who was removed from an unlicensed commercial breeder in Wolfeboro, NH. Courtesy the Humane Society of the United States—

  • This is a post-adoption photo of Wanda, who was removed from an unlicensed commercial breeder in Wolfeboro. Photos courtesy of the Humane Society of the United States

  • Wanda, a Great Dane, is shown during her time living in the Wolfeboro mansion about 17 months ago.

  • Christina Fay of Wolfeboro appears in District Court at the Carroll County Superior Courthouse in Ossipee on Sept. 6, 2017. Fay was charged in June with abusing 84 Great Danes. (ELIZABETH FRANTZ / Monitor staff) Elizabeth Frantz

Monitor columnist
Published: 11/23/2018 4:52:13 PM

Sometimes, Wanda the Great Dane rests her paw on her stuffed frog.

Other times, she sleeps on a brown leather couch, resting her head on a pillow.

She’s far from the feces-covered floors and walls that marred her home in Wolfeboro. But exactly where Wanda’s new home is now – or any of the other 75 Great Danes removed from a Wolfeboro mansion 17 months ago – remains shrouded. She’s somewhere down South and we don’t mean southern New Hampshire. She’s in a new city and state now. Exactly where is anyone’s guess.

Atlanta? Charlotte? Maybe Nashville? Wanda isn’t saying.

Wanda’s whereabouts would have tied this story up with a pretty bow, neat and clean. She could have made us all feel warm and fuzzy, after the shock of seeing her and dozens of other Great Danes standing and lying in their own filth, portions of their eyes blocked with pink blobs, black stuff smeared over here, big dogs in small cages over there, the smell of urine everywhere.

And while it’s nice to see the photos of Wanda’s new life, sent to us by the Humane Society of the United States, the organization’s national and state chapters have been unable or unwilling to steer us toward any adoptive family who was willing to take in one of these dogs.

The press releases say that everything is fine. Christina Fay has been convicted of cruelty and negligence and might have to pay a $1.9 million fine, depending on what the State Supreme Court decides in her appeal. The dogs were found in her home in June of 2017.

And after time in an undisclosed shelter, under the supervision the Humane Society, the dogs, including Wanda, have all found loving, warm, comfy homes.

An interview with an adopting family would have been a perfect way to show where this blockbuster of a story ended, with truth, justice and the American way shining through at a time of intense divisiveness in the country.

Yet, we’re still waiting for that final chapter.

We thought we had it recently, when Emily Ehrhorn, a public relations specialist for the Humane Society, sent us an email seemingly offering us the final piece to a story that has been covered throughout the country and the world.

She wrote, “Wanda suffered from infections in both of her eyes and ears, and required surgery and veterinary care to alleviate her suffering. Her life today looks very different from what it did just over a year ago. Wanda now enjoys taking naps on the couch, playing games and going on adventures with her new family. Her new mom describes Wanda as a ‘mama’s girl’ who follows her everywhere. Every night before bed, Wanda will walk up to each of her parents to kiss them goodnight before cuddling up to them.”

Ehrhorn finished by saying, “If you would like to speak with Wanda’s new family or someone from our Animal Rescue Team, please let me know and I would be happy to connect you.”

Perfect. A family – a New Hampshire family, I assumed – could give us an inside view on what it takes to rehabilitate a dog that had been living in awful conditions.

Perhaps it was my fault for jumping the gun, but Wanda, it turns out, lives somewhere in the deep South, although Ehrhorn declined to tell me which state, citing respect for the family’s privacy. She declined to forward my contact information, adding that the family was on vacation at the time, somewhere in Europe.

It turns out certain information, like which cities and states do the dogs live in now, is too much to ask for – none of your business anymore.

Meanwhile, information regarding Fay is more concrete. She was found guilty, and her initial sentence of 90 days in jail was changed to a $1.9 million fine five months ago by a Carroll County Superior Court judge. And that punishment is currently being reviewed on appeal by the State Supreme Court, meaning it might disappear as well.

What won’t vanish, however, is the “Cruella de Vil” image now attached to Fay. The case received worldwide attention because of its bizarre nature, including Fay’s apparent wealth and giant home, the number of dogs found, the size of these gentle giants and the photos and statements from officials who emerged from Fay’s home that day, about 1½ years ago.

Speaking by phone last week, Fay said the evidence used to convict her last year was bullcrap. The black stuff smeared on her car twice recently, she said, was dog crap.

“I’m being treated worse than if I had been a pedophile,” Fay told me.

She made a few points clear, mainly that she’s not seeking sympathy here.

“I don’t deserve any (sympathy) and I’m not looking for it, but a bit of compassion would be nice,” she said.

That’s why she hopes you’ll read this column with an open mind. She knows she’s guilty in the court of public opinion, and she knows most of you, probably all of you, will rolls your eyes when you read her comments defending herself.

Sure, Fay admits, she was caring for too many dogs. That was her crime. She continued, saying her dogs were never denied water, they suffered from viruses, not diseases, and the photos released by the Humane Society were taken out of context.

“The photos they took at 8 a.m., the house was clean, and the photos that were spread around the world were from 4 p.m.,” Fay told me. “A lot of staging was done. Things are not always as they seem.”

The judge in the initial trial didn’t buy it. No one following the case did. Since then, Fay says her coping skills are failing, telling me “I lost my entire family, I lost my friends, my business associates, and on top of that to be a pariah, I don’t know how to live with this.”

One consolation: Fay was awarded custody of Etabeta, one of her older dogs, last December. Reaction to the news, as expected, was negative, but it’s a safe bet Fay can give one dog the care it needs.

The other 74 taken from her home that day? We’re still on the lookout, hoping to close the book on this one.

Ray Duckler bio photo

Ray Duckler, our intrepid columnist, focuses on the Suncook Valley. He floats from topic to topic, searching for the humor or sadness or humanity in each subject. A native New Yorker, he loves the Yankees and Giants. The Red Sox and Patriots? Not so much.

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