Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Dane-love Thomas Style

People who are familiar with Great Danes as a breed know them to be extremely social – a common Dane characteristic is the “lean,” where they relinquish the task of holding their bodies upright to allow their people to support their weight. They are known to help themselves to open laps for sitting, an art form Trinity has taken to new levels as she scrambles into laps open only by virtue of sitting on a toilet at the time. They seek out companionship and attention; even she-who-will-not-be-bothered Mercy will resort to the elbow-nudge when the need to be petted strikes her. It is not uncommon here at the Farm, when trying to move from one room to another, to find oneself held fast in place by a Dane paw that has been placed atop one’s foot. And when one’s foot has been extricated from under the huge paw, one can almost always count on an entourage accompaniment that makes the journey from one room to another take on the air of a furry, squirmy, chaotic parade marched to the beat of multiple large, long tails drumming walls, doorways and furniture and punctuated by a dialogue of, “oh excuse me, didn’t mean to get in the way, guys – oh sh*t – ouch, my leg - watch out – incoming!”

As I was making my way around the house this morning, it occurred to me our foster boy, Thomas, displays all of the typical Dane traits, but he seems to have taken his need for contact one step beyond. He has somehow moved beyond Dane and reached . . . cat? Which is ironic on a number of levels, not the least of which is Thomas has a somewhat checkered history with cats.

For Thomas, padding up for a morning petting session is not enough. He likes to cram his head into you, rubbing his face on any available body surface. Bellies and hips will do, but if you would be so kind as to use both hands to rub the sides of his face, get his ears really good (he lets you know you have hit the right spot by purring with delight, which unlike a cat’s purr has a low, rolling thunder quality), and then scratch down his back.In return for this massage, he will imitate a classic feline maneuver, where they slam the side of their body against you, pushing and twining through your legs. Only in Thomas’ case with the force of a linebacker and the hazardous consequence of knocking you to the ground if caught unawares or left off balance by attempting the audacious move of continuing to prepare for the day. And as cats will sometimes give you a farewell flick with a tail to send you on your way, Thomas’ frenetically wagging tail will offer a final slap on the back of the thighs, butt, or lower back, leaving you with a sting and a welt, but in most cases, no bruising.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Planes and Wheels

I have long maintained if we are open to it, the cosmos will supply us with the things we need. This belief has carried me through pretty well; since becoming involved in the Great Dane rescue, however, the gifts we have received from the cosmos have been tenfold as much as any two people deserve.

It was through the rescue that I found myself speaking on the phone to a complete stranger about two and a half years ago while trying to coordinate an adoption transport. My lines were crossed; this was not the person to whom I would be passing the transported dog. She was in Minnesota. I was in northeast Kansas. This conversation should not have taken place. But thanks to the cosmos, it did. And it planted a seed that took root enough so that when the same woman on the Minnesota end of the line found herself making a reverse-Dane train trek, we were called into action to intercede her.

The cosmos are sneaky that way. You find yourself in the parking lot of some random gas station, tears being shed all around, and it turns out those tears won’t be the last the three of you share. Those tears are watering laughter and adventures you haven’t even realized are taking shape.
From those tears, we have shared flaming desserts, melancholy restaurant hostesses, and indifferent waitstaff in San Francisco. We have had chance encounters in local airports, where we found her dragging around a sound system as carry-on luggage. We have connected over passing canine maladies and permanent characteristics. We have shared stories and pictures and videos, albeit hers are much more well-produced.

And this past weekend, our friend from the Dane exchange in the parking lot, Evonne, winged in from Minnesota. I know from first-hand observation, she has the ability to make every creature feel like he or she is the only one in the room, so a girl can’t be too surprised at the warm reception the kritters here at MisFit Farm gave her. We watched as the people at her workshop each blossomed and basked in the warmth of her energy. It was a marvelous weekend.

Putting her on a plane to return was so difficult, we almost didn’t make it to the gate on time. But rest assured, there will be stories to come of that adventure and many more.