Miscellanea, Writing
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What I Learned from a Great Dane

Roo’s presence was felt the moment she ambled into my city apartment. As a Great Dane, it was impossible for it not to be. She strolled in with an endearing gracelessness aided by her lanky physique, side-checked the coffee table and promptly dislodged a stack of papers with one wag of her tail. It didn’t take her long to suss out the quarters of her new, temporary abode: a one-bedroom apartment, which she occupied a sizeable portion of. After conducting a thorough sweep of each room—closets included—she rounded back to the living room and settled onto the couch with the ease and familiarity of a frequent houseguest. She glanced at me with her wide, assessing eyes, sighed heavily, and fell fast asleep.

Needless to say, I was in love.

When meeting most all dogs, I get very excited. By “very,” I mean kid-in-a-candy-store excited. So much so, that I often transform into a squealing ball of unbridled enthusiasm. It’s an annoying and slightly off-putting response, I admit, but one that I am seemingly unable to restrain—much to the disdain of dogs, their unimpressed owners, and anyone else within a one-block radius. Roo was not exempt from my standard response. I was giddy upon her arrival, and immediately fell in love with her. She, however, seemed less endeared with me.

By day three, we had fallen into a routine which centered around homebody activities like lounging, eating, and sleeping. We also established some ground rules, the gist of which were that my unsolicited hugs and kisses were tolerated by Roo, in exchange for treats and ample couch turf. Her gentle disposition meant my frequent pets were rebuffed by little more than a passive, side-eyed glance. She was an accepting, if not slightly resigned, recipient of my love, and tolerated my affections the way a parent does the behavior of a nagging child.

During Roo’s weeklong stay I enjoyed things which typically would perturb my neat-freak nature. For instance, rather than cringe, I reveled as Roo lapped water from her dog bowl, liquid sloshing over the sides, and a discernable trail of drool glistening from her jowls. She would pause to stare at me, mid-slobber, with her evaluating gaze, as I applauded her ability to drink with a degree of enthusiasm typically reserved for hockey fans during playoffs. Thankfully, I stopped short of celebrating her ability to go number two. A behavior endemic in overinvolved dog owners who I see at parks assessing their pet’s bowel movements with far too much focus.

Roo’s visit may have been brief, but it was impactful. During her stay, I learned some valuable lessons that have served me well, and which I’d like to share with you.

Lesson #1 — Anything is Possible with a Little Perseverance

In the world of Roo, anything is possible with a little perseverance. This was demonstrated by her impressive ability to squeeze her ample frame into spaces previously deemed “too small”; such as an armchair. Or an already occupied bed. Why limit yourself, when you could apply Roo’s mindset to perceived obstacles, and instead see the inherent possibilities in every situation. No couch is too small and no bed is too tight for Roo not to wriggle her way in. With a little determination (and a total disregard for “naysayers,” also known as the other couch occupants) anything is possible.

Lesson #2 — Co-Napping is the Greatest

There’s no point in napping solo if you could do so in the company of others. If you can nap while simultaneously kicking their tender places and stealing every blanket (sheets included) because you’re ruthless, all the better. Sharing a mid-afternoon or post-work snooze isn’t a lazy habit—it’s spending quality time with the people you love most, and who are willing to share cuddles with you.

Lesson #3 — If You Need Help, Ask for It

There are few boundaries in the world of Roo, and any that exist can be overcome by asking for help. Roo’s way of requesting assistance was usually through a suggestive huff or a prolonged stare, which cued me to remove bothersome barriers, like closed doors, on her behalf, so she could more effectively root around. Similar to Roo, there’s absolutely no shame in asking for help when it’s needed, so don’t sweat the times when you do. That said, I do suggest you find a more socially acceptable approach of requesting assistance than Roo’s standard stare down, which to some may be perceived as creepy.

Lesson #4 — Be Still Sometimes

If you have a difficult time unwinding, commandeer a Great Dane for a few days. They are masters of the art of being mellow. Roo motivated me to do something that I hadn’t done in a while: nothing. She made leisure and idleness look effortless and appealing. As someone who is perpetually “on the go,” I was able to take the time to be still while in Roo’s company, without feeling like there was somewhere else I needed to be. The occasions where I found Roo staring intently at a wall or out the window seemed almost meditative, as though she were deep in thought. Although I can’t say for certain whether she was contemplating anything beyond, “My butt itches.” I truly think Roo’s propensity for being still benefits her and contributes to her calm disposition.

Lesson #5 – Take Risks

The day I picked Roo up in my vehicle, she hopped into the backseat without hesitation, as though it were her personal car service. Roo’s indifference toward the cautionary adage: “Don’t get into stranger’s cars,” was a little alarming, but also, admirably ballsy. Although I don’t recommend others exhibit this same degree of fearlessness, which borders on an utter disregard for personal safety, I do think there is a lesson to be learned here: to take risks. For Roo, leaving the certain safety of her home in my vehicle was a bit of a gamble, but also, an opportunity. Specifically, an opportunity to go for a car ride, which in Roo’s realm is not a chance to be passed up on. There are times when we all need take a risk, particularly when the potential payoff is great (while of course exercising caution).

Lesson #6 — Longboarders Are Not to Be Trusted

This one I’m a little unsure of, but due to Roo’s strong aversion to longboarders, I felt it necessary to include. On one occasion, while out walking, we were passed by a trio of cruising teens—an incident that led to Roo bolting, and subsequently, the near dislocation of my arm. I suspect their cargo shorts, failed ollies, and inefficiently “long” boards are what disturbed her. This level of distrust also applies to flies and other winged insects as their tiny size enables stealthy maneuvers, making them particularly unnerving.

These are just a few of the lessons I learned from Roo during her weeklong stay, but other honorable mentions include:

Second Dinner is Always a Must

If You’re Excited, Hop Around

If You Fart, Avoid Eye Contact 

 

 

 

 

 

1 Comment

  1. I LOVED this post, and I love the sound of Roo. We used to have a great dane/mastiff cross named Zeus, and so much of what you wrote reminded me of him, particularly the squeezing into small spaces, and jumping into the car, no matter what! He lived to be almost 11, and he was goofy and clumsy right up to the end. Thank you for this post! I really enjoyed it.

    Liked by 1 person

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