Its probably obvious that we treat Eve and Link as if they were actual children. I’m assuming many people out there also consider their dogs to be just like real kids…needing care, close supervision, and patient loving.
I have no idea if I will ever have children of my own, but I’m sure that raising these two devils is a great way to ease into the challenges of caring for someone other than yourself. That obviously means sacrifcing some sleep (Link needed to get up at 3am and 4am last night to go to the bathroom), some blood (Eve has left both of us with a few gashes), and some cash (veterinary bills are not cheap).
But besides sacrifices, the dogs are like kids in that they allow us to share some our favorite memories. Our pups are becoming a part of our new memories as well as our old ones. For example, last week we took the pups to Kyle’s undergraduate alma mater in rural Virginia, James Madison University. Kyle had not been back in the three years since he graduated. The visit for the puppies was nothing more than another adventure with new sites and smells. But it still had the feeling of sharing something special from the past with the young babies. I’m sure it is a small fraction of what a father feels like when visiting a favorite baseball stadium for the first time with a son.
Link and Eve are not wild puppies…for the most part.
TV shows seem to have horror stories about crazy dogs that destroy everything in sight and can only by tamed by the Dog Whisperer. Any time you get a new puppy (let alone two) certain people always look at you strangely, assuming that you are getting yourself in over your head by releasing two growing beasts into your home to destroy things.
But *knock on wood* we have yet to experience widespread destruction. Once their bodies get bigger and their minds stay underdeveloped, they will definitely cause more damage. But, I’m confident that it will all be manageable.
Both pups definitely get into mischief. Link is sneaky about it. He’s earned the nickname “Slinky Link” because he slowly walks out of the room to go chew on something he isn’t suppose to or in an effort to steal leftover food. He always tries to be quiet about it, knowing that noise will get him caught.
Eve is less secretive about her naughtiness. She will try to chew on a shoe right in front you or steal a piece of food while it is directly on your plate. She’ll stop when you call her on it, but she hasn’t yet developed the ability to control all of her puppy urges.
Really, the only time that the pups are difficult to handle is when they are in wrestling mode with one another. About three times a day they get out all of their aggression by fighting each other. The pups are hardest to control in these moments of rough-housing. It is during these fights that they have knocked over the most drinks and bumped into the laptops. To outsiders it looks menacing, but we have definitely gotten used to these twenty minutes bursts of crazy-puppy.
The good thing is that without fail they take an hour nap after each 20 minute fight.
Earlier we mentioned that Eve always gets mistaken for a black lab until people realize she has massive paws. That is getting less true, because she’s slowly getting more classic “Dane” features.
But I was never satisfied with the pictures I posted to show her big paws. I think this new one from a car ride is a beter example of the bear-like qualities of her paw. Basically, her mitt is as big as Link’s face. Poor Link doesn’t know what is about to hit him when Eve’s body catches up to these massive gloves.
The swimming pool means two different things to Eve and Link.
Link, the golden retriever, believes that the pool is perhaps mankind’s greatest invention. He was introduced to big bodies of water at the Foster Dog Beach at Lake Michigan. He loved it, but the swimming pool is definitely an upgrade over the lake. The pool water is much warmer than the lake and there are no intimidating waves to slow him down. On top of that, the pool has a ledge that makes it possible to dive head first into water without having to walk into it. Link’s heaven is going to be filled with swimming pools.
Eve, the great dane, thinks swimming pools are scary death traps. Eve is pretty logical, she realizes that she does not have gills, cannot breather underwater, and therefore does not need to be completely surrounded by water at any time. To her, the only good liquid is the stuff that is in her dish bowl to lap up when she is thirsty. Other than that, she prefers to sit on the beach chairs and snuggle with the closest person. One time Eve actually jumped into the pool right after Kyle. We think it was either an accident or she thought Kyle was drowning and needed rescue.
After a couple of months in our Chicago apartment, Link and Eve definitely have their prime nap spots all picked out. It is pretty predictable. Link picks typical “dog” spots, and Eve insists on sleeping where humans sleep.
Link = under the coffee table, under the futon, under the bed, on the tile in front of the fake fireplace
Eve= on the futon, on the bed, on her dog bed in front of the coffee table
Of course those options are gone in Virginia, so each pup has been forced to find new spots to rest. We’ve been here for a week now, and they’ve already picked out their regular haunts. Their traits haven’t changed either. Eve still insists on sleeping only on soft pillow-like things, and Link always snoozes on hard, cool surfaces.
Their choices definitely reflect their personality. Link gets along splendidly with all people, but enjoys his alone time. He gives you a kiss and then leaves to curl up in a spot only fit for a dog. On the other hand, Eve clings to humans and assumes that she must be one as well. She gives you a kiss, and then another kiss, and then another, and then insists on sleeping right on top of you.
P.S. Link finally learned to swan dive into the pool while fetching his tennis ball. Adorable. I am sure we will post a video of his new skill soon.
For anyone who hasn’t been reading our earlier posts, we are currently at my parents’ home in rural Virginia. My 2.5 year old nephew, Rylee has been spending most of his summer out here as well, swimming in the pool and running the land. One of the biggest decisions on dog breed for me, as well as Paul, was temperment. I have always grown up with Labs and have sometimes taken for granted their love of all people, including children. When purchasing my first “out of school” dog I was interested in trying a new breed but wanted to find something good with children like most labs. Golden Retrievers have always been one of the most popular family dogs because they are so forgiving to a child’s changing moods. When I was researching Great Danes I read they were also good with children but this popular phrase did not flood the searches like it did with the Golden Retriever.
While being at the house, Rylee was the first interaction the pups had with a child. Link loves everyone and everything around him and easily forgives Rylee’s heavy hugs. Eve, on the other hand, has been very interesting to watch interact with a child. As a female and a Dane, Eve likes to tell people “this is her owner” and “this is her blanket.” She would bark at Rylee when she didn’t understand why he would give her such a strong squeeze for a hug. Often she would take off away from him if he came too close to her screaming. However, we have been trying to reassure her Rylee is human and part of the family which she needs to behave around. So far, Eve has progressed a great deal and tolerates him much more often running to give him kisses.
A major concern while living in Chicago with two “soon-to-be-big” dogs is whether the pups are getting too cramped. All dogs need room to stretch and get their energy out, big dogs more than most. Of course, many loving big dog owners raise happy, buoyant, healthy giant dogs in metropolises all the time. With dog beaches, lots of walking space, a long apartment, and other options, we are confident that our pups are getting the energy they need and the mental stimulation necessary to grow up as they should.
However, it is still amazing to see Eve and Link able to truly go crazy with lots of open green space here in rural Virginia. With slightly more than a dozen houses in this area, each on several acres, Kyle’s family home is the perfect spot for the pups to really feel like animals.
Another great benefit is how much easier it is to get the dogs out to do their business without having to leash them up and walk down stairs. The early morning bathroom break is always a bit frustrating in the city when you have to go through the routine while still groggy only to sit waiting impatiently while they take their time. But out here, we simply grab a cup of coffee, open the door, and stroll out into the openness while watching the dog run around a bit until they are ready. There is really no substitute.
Our travels to Virginia took about 11 hours in the car and the two pups did pretty well. We put the rear seats down in the car so Link and Eve could have the run. Some people I’ve talked to are very adamant about only traveling with their dogs in the crate or in some cases, a dog safety belt. I can completely see how crate traveling in a car would make sense. However, for such a long ride in the car, allowing them as much space as possible to stretch their legs made the most sense to us. I know when I’m traveling, I have to stretch my legs any chance I get. I figured the pups agreed! Eve However, insisted on reaching her head into the front of the car to rest it on one of my arms steering the car. It was cute, but kind of heavy for steering the car! Ok, so I get why some people crate their dogs!
Pics are of the pups traveling and one of my parents dog, Guiness the Chocolate Lab.
Sometimes when we mention that we are raising a Great Dane and Golden Retriever, people immediately assume, “Oh, so you’ve got one smart dog and one not-so-smart dog.” But really, it is much more complicated than that. They both know basically the same commands: sit, down, stay, etc. There is not really any “tricks” difference between them so far. But, the pups definitely have personality differences.
For example, take their sense of curiosity. Sometimes Link definitely stays interested in things longer than Eve. New toys/people/dogs typically interest Eve for a few seconds and then she moves on. Link, however, lingers with new things for awhile, soaking them up.
On the other hand, Eve is much bolder than Link. She is the first to race to something, the first to bark at a strange noise, the first to poke her head somewhere new to see what is inside. Eve just follows her instincts immediately…Link slowly catches up, then stays a little longer.