Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Can Two Great Danes Fill an Empty Nest?

The great exodus occurs, the children leave home. Whether you call it an empty nest or a successful launching pad, the result is the same: a silent house. Not so for me! By a great accident of serendipity, my two Great Danes seized the opportunity to fill the silence: they began to speak.

While seated at my computer the other morning I became aware that I was being watched, and that intently. Glancing over at the dog bed I saw Percy stretched out, sound asleep and snoring like a drunken sailor. Next to my chair stood Froby with an agonized expression on his face.

Let me tell you about Froby. We found him, age 7 months, at the animal shelter; he had been rescued from a life of at best neglect, at worst downright abuse. He looked like a walking skeleton and was virtually wild. Taming him was a labor of love that stretched into months, and is still very much a work in progress three years later. Froby has no idea how terrifyingly vast he is, and is scared stiff of everything from a rabbit to an open door. His body language more closely resembles a deer than a dog.

Thinking that a second dog might help to calm his many neuroses, we agreed to take on Percy (short for Persephone), also 7 months, who had ridden down from Bakersfield in the back of a pickup truck when her owners discovered that it takes a tidy sum to feed a Great Dane. Rather like a canine Marilyn Monroe, Percy makes up for what she lacks in moral fiber by looking irresistible. I like to imagine her arrival in Ojai wearing Marilyn’s trademark headscarf and sunglasses. She would have looked so cool!

Percy relies heavily on her looks. Unfortunately for her, Froby has a highly developed sense of justice that is not to be swayed by her beauty. So when Percy took over the whole L.L. Bean Extra-Large dog bed, what could Froby do but appeal to higher authority, to wit, me. "Mum," he said (he gets his English accent from me), "Mum, Percy's in my bed." Then, seeing that I made no move to eject her, he raised the volume and tried again. "I said, MUM!” (this time he barked my name), “Percy's in my bed and she's taking up all her side AND all of mine and It’s Not Fair"!

Percy stopped snoring. One eye opened a slit and promptly closed. Without uttering a sound, she said clearly, “I’m not listening,” and resumed her slumbers.

I contemplated the odds of moving either of them. Froby tips the scales at around 130 pounds, Percy at 120 or so. If they don’t want to move, there is nothing I can do to make them. Happily, I managed to persuade Percy to bend her knees enough to make room for Froby.

You might think that, once they’d proved that there was plenty of room for two, the sharing problem would be at an end. Nothing could be further from the truth! In this the dog bed acts very much like the backseat of the car, where a misplaced elbow or hip can cause a monstrous dispute.
Today, however, all is quiet; Percy nabbed the bed, leaving Froby the ancient wicker loveseat. The only sounds are the dogs’ heavy breathing and the ticking of the grandfather clock.

It sounds suspiciously like the silence of an empty nest.

I wonder if the shelter knows of another Great Dane in need of adoption—preferably a nice talkative one. 

Percy takes up the whole bed,

but she can also look tiny.

Froby relegated to the love-seat

We'll share, as long as I don't have to touch him.

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