When we went to meet our Great Dane, Thor, he was in foster care; that is, he had “three hots and a cot” while awaiting his “forever home.” He’d integrated well with the resident pack – and one can only assume when you’re caring for SEVEN Great Danes, if the new guy doesn’t get along, you’re going to find out pretty darn fast!
Shortly after we brought him home, we took him out for a quick walk one evening – it was December, it was late, it was dark AND it was snowing. We certainly didn’t expect to run into anyone – it was cold enough that anyone with any sense would be inside, and it was late enough in the season that the novelty of Yet More Snow had long since faded away.
We were barely two blocks from our own house when Thor stopped short and looked at the house across the street, where there was a guy playing in the snow! With his dog!
Now, to really get a good picture of this moment, imagine that you’re walking down the street on a dark, snowy evening, trying to get a feel for whether your 2-day-new dog even knows how to walk on a leash. Everything around you is silent, and you’re working hard to convince yourself that walking every morning this winter won’t be so bad. Really.
Your attention is drawn to a grown-up adult man frolicking in the snow. With his dog.
As I write this, it actually occurs to me that there may have been a bit more going on with that guy than simple joie de vivre. Hmm. That may help explain what happened next.
As I was saying, Thor stopped in his tracks. He looked at this other dog. In the time it took to look around and see what he was staring at, he’d gone from just looking to jumping up and down, barking and howling and carrying on like some sort of hellhound.
The thought crossed my mind at that moment that maybe we should change his name. Something like “Cerberus” or “Baskerville” might be fitting, I thought. Still do, actually.
This poor guy, who had moments before been gamboling about in the snow, scooped his 60-pound dog up in his arms and ran for his life.
In the months since, we’ve come to understand that Thor’s tantrums are the result of frustration, and we’re working to eliminate them. The biggest problem is that he goes from rational to total meltdown in approximately 2 seconds. And, for what’s it worth, a Great Dane melting down is not a pretty sight.
We see another dog from a distance.
Thor immediately goes into a play bow: “Hey, you wanna play?”
When he’s not playing with Other Dog IMMEDIATELY, he tries again, a bit more forcefully: “I SAID Do You Want To PLAY?” which is accompanied by an exaggerated play bow, I guess just in case Other Dog missed the Giant Goober starting to make a spectacle of himself.
A couple of these exaggerated play bows later, Thor has gone from wanting to play to jumping up and down, screaming, “I said now! I want it now! Now! NOW! NOW!NOW!NOW!” looking and acting very much like Willy Wonka‘s Veruca Salt.
So our job, at this time, is to try to catch Thor in that 2-second window and somehow teach him that, if he’s going to act like a deranged giraffe, nobody’s going to let him near their dog. Once he gets that figured out, then I’m looking forward to seeing him play with someone other than me!