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.