“That’s a GREA-A-A-T Dane!” the smiling young man said as we passed on the street, doing a perfect imitation of Tony the Tiger from the Kellogg’s Frosted Flakes® commercials. “Thank you!” I called after him.
That was a new one for my 140-pound dog. Walking Lotte around the neighborhood, I hear all sorts of comments. Lots of horse-related ones: “Nice horse you got there.” “Got a saddle for that thing?” One day recently when Lotte was being particularly lethargic and trailing behind me, a guy offered “Your horse is following you.” A while back we passed a group of Latino workmen on break outside a construction site. “Chihuahua” one called out. “Grande Chihuahua,” I replied, thereby exhausting my entire Spanish vocabulary. (What is someone who studied French for six years doing in a city that is more than 36 percent Spanish-speaking?)
Some folks call her Marmaduke. “Lady Marmaduke,” I remind them. Children sometimes make reference to Scooby-Do. “Hi Big Guy,” a person might say. “Girl!” I tell them. “Oh sorry about that.” It’s okay. I understand that people naturally assume a dog this big just must be male. Occasionally I tell them it’s a lazy person’s dog: You don’t have to bend down to pet her.
Lotte is our ninth Great Dane. There are several reasons for this: We have been at it for a long time, Great Danes are not long-lived, and we are people who like consistency (all but one of our cars in 54 years have been Volkswagens).
“Of course you’ll get another Great Dane,” our New York daughter said when we were ready for a new dog. “It’s part of your image.” Well, at least it gives us identity. When we run into people unaccompanied by our dog and are greeted by blank stares, we can always remind them, “The people with the Great Dane.” “Oh yes,” they’ll reply. It’s a comfort to know we’re not complete ciphers.
If you’d like to know more about Great Danes and why anyone would own nine of them, I’ve put my book Great Dane in the Morning up on this website . It’s the story, with pictures, of each and every one of them. They were all GREA-A-A-T!
Sculpture: “Quality Times” by Louise Peterson