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time for an intervention

28 January 2012

We had an intervention in our house two weeks ago.

It wasn’t drugs, a boy dog, a forced departure to a wilderness boarding school for troubled teen dogs – no, it was simply that MW decided she wanted our back yard, well, back.

As it has been well chronicled, Luna’s rendered the lawn behind the house unplayable for croquet and every other summer pastime we previously enjoyed. The grass was crying out but unable to fight back.

MW decided to tilt the odds in our favor. Cue a trip to the local Orchard Supply Hardware store.

A Dog-Proof Barrier?

We bought what they call in Canada snow fencing, and what they call in America contractor fencing. It’s the same thing, a four foot wide orange plastic fence with enough holes to let wind through and enough plastic to keep a physical object like a dog from penetrating. We also picked up some 5ft long wooden stakes.

When we dropped the load on the patio and got out the sledge hammer to knock the stakes in, Luna really didn’t know what make of it. By the time, we’d installed the stakes and attached the fencing material, Luna really didn’t know what to think. She might as well have been staring at the East Berlin side of the Berlin Wall.

how to save your lawn from dog urine and brown spots

A New Berlin Wall for Dogs

The fence worked…..for two weeks. Luna proved a lot more creative and cleverer than we’d ever expected. A surprise followed.


2012 calendar girl

08 January 2012

Our 2012 Calendar for Great Dane Lovers

The secret to a great photo? Take lots and separate the wheat from the chaff. The secret to a decent photo calendar? Review hundreds of photos, good and bad, and cull heartlessly.

Shooting and culling might sound like a frontier kind of animal husbandry but it’s also a recipe for ending up with enough photos to make a calendar of your Great Dane puppy.

In 2011, I took over 600 pictures of Luna. When it came time to compose a 2012 calendar for MW, a lot of culling was called for. About two-dozen of them were good enough to make the cut. The result was sort of like Luna’s greatest hits in her first year.

Here’s the cover of one of the prettiest calendar girls you’re likely to see in 2012:

Great Dane Calendar Girl

warning from our 2012 calendar girl

new year’s resolutions for dogs

01 January 2012
2012 logo

The start of a very good year!

It’s New Year’s Day and time to create resolutions about the year ahead based on the year past.

MW is big on this. Every Jan. 1 brings discussion of her preliminary personal theme for the coming year. It is usually a short statement of whatever she wants to focus on during the upcoming year. Content is pretty basic.

Things like “treat my husband with more respect.” Stuff like that. (Ed note: this should be included annually).

MW’s a bit like a best man scribbling down ideas for a wedding reception speech. Over a 72-hour period, she ruminates on what went wrong or not as well as she’d have liked the previous year. She reflects. She vows to do better. She crafts thoughts on pieces of paper. There’s stuff that looks good on paper and then there’s stuff that has real meaning and import for the coming year. (She never tells me which version she ultimately selects).

Within 48 hours of the Rose Bowl, she’s usually finalized her theme. What is it going to be for 2012? I don’t know for MW but I’m confident that I know the dog’s.

Luna is new to the New Year’s resolution principle and workflow. Yet, I think the resolution thing would come naturally to her. She’s nothing, if not focused. She proved it time and again during 2011. Chewing a bone. Eating. Pooping. Playing. Sleeping. Focus on the task at end is clearly evident in everything she does.

So what do you think she would want to change from 2011? I can’t really think of much. The year started a little shaky, of course, given that she was yanked away from her family and given to three strangers. Overall, though, once she realized that we’d feed her regularly and spare no expense on her comfort and healthcare, she enjoyed a very, very good 2011. I can’t imagine Luna would want anything really to change in 2012. Her 2012 New Year’s Resolution?

“More of the same.”

a puppy’s letter to santa

22 December 2011

Dear Santa,

I’m typing this on my mama’s computer.

It is a box under her desk attached to a screen that looks like our tv, only it’s a lot smaller. My mama spends many hours looking at the screen and tapping her fingers on 4 rows of small squares.  That’s how I know how to create letters and words and then hit the print button. my mama thinks I sleep most of the time; she doesn’t know that I have been studying her for months to learn how to use a computer and semi-colons properly.

my family (There are three in my family) is out shopping or watching a basketball game or at jamba juice. They put me in my house. It’s actually a metal cage just like the places where the Vietnamese bad guys in the first Rambo movie put the American POWs who Stallone rescues after killing 174 bad guys. I apologize for digressing as I know reading millions of letters, maybe even billions, takes you away from your family and elves.

Anyway, I know how to get out of my cage when they’re gone. My family watches a lot of movies like Mission Impossible 3. I learned a lot of escape tricks from Tom Cruise who plays the good guy. We (me included) love that movie, but Unfortunately, he’s in a cult called Scientology and I don’t know if scientologists allow other scientologists to believe in someone who has greater powers (that’s yu) than L. Ron hubbard. (LRon is their founder).

Me and my 2-legged sister OD believe in you. lotss.

i’m writing this letter to tell you about my place on your present list.

To begin, I’ve been a good dog this year. Despite what my dad writes in his blog, I really have been good   A lot of stuff that he writes is made up. (Made up means invented. but you probably already know that). I’ve heard him describe what he writes about me as comedy. Some of it is true but i know that some of it is made up because I just would not do some things that he attributes to me. (there is a book called a thesaurus beside the desk. It helps me use big words like attribute appropriately).

“He sees you when you’re sleeping
He knows when you’re awake.
He knows if you’ve been bad or good
So be good for goodness sake”

I’m a Good Dog

Anyway, i Know I’ve been good this year? How do I know I have been and you can just take my word for it? I know because i hear my mama say these words 3 to four times every day. “You’re a good dog luna.” This letter, then, is from a really good dog. By your own criteria, I qualify.

Here are a few things that I’d like to find under the christmas tree on christmas morning:

1. electric blanket

I like to heat up my parents’ bed in the morning and before bed but nobody does it for me. I’m a California dog but an electric blankie would still be luvely.

2. Tazer

There are a couple of dogs that are really mean to me at the dog park. Three weeks ago, one of them bit me and removed some of my neck hair. I’m not a violent dog. I’ve never bitten anyone but I need some protection.

3. Treat Shrub

I’ve never seen one before but that doesn’t mean it does not exist, right? Is there a small tree or shrub that grows dog treats that my family could put in the backyard so I wouldn’t have to beg so often? I’d like one of those, please.

4. Closer relationship with my feline sister

I share our house with a cat called LC. we are not what you would call close. i’ve really tried to make friends with her but she misinterprets my jumping and noise-making for aggression. I’m not an aggressive puppy, at all. (see #2 above). i would like to be friends with LC. Can you please help with this?

5. More bones and better bones

I don’t get enough bones to chew on. I’ve got big teeth and a big mouth so I can hold my own against any bone. When my mama buys me a bone, it doesn’t last very long. I’m talking less than 30 minutes for even the largest bones. I know, people say “get that puppy a nylabone.” have you ever chewed on one of them? Ooops, silly question. Well, they taste terrible. What I want is a bone that tastes good and lasts. Think nylabone meets beef wellington. If you have one of those, please drop it in your santa sack.

That’s it. I don’t need much because I have a family that loves me.

I know your sleigh will be pretty heavy and rudolf and his peeps already struggle to pull it but they’re fellow animals an i am confident they won’t begrudge you bringing a really good dog a few prezzies on Christmas eve.

Yours Truly,


silent but deadly: a flatulent puppy

07 December 2011

Is a flatulent puppy a happy puppy?

ready for a new mission: a silent assassin waits

As we’re dealing more frequently with the first situation, it’s a serious question worth pondering to know whether the same dog can also be happy. I offer the following tale.

When short days and cold weather arrive, Great Dane puppies don’t follow many of their shaggier canines in developing wooly coats. Our puppy Luna still sports the same ¾ inch-long fur that she did in the summer. With the mornings now quite chilly, she’s developed a habit of eating her breakfast as quickly as possible (2 ¾ cups of food in about 1 min. 10 sec.), jumping outside to do her business and then racing back into the house.

From our kitchen, it’s 20 frantically thunderous leaps upstairs to an airborne assault onto our bed. Once on the bed, she quickly disappears beneath the winter-weight duvet to slide back into a state of semi-conscious relaxation in the shadows. She lies between MW and me, her head usually beside our ankles. While we enjoy the warmth and consider beginning our day, she lies there in somnolent repose.

What happens next is a little like fracking. Fracking is a controversial natural gas extraction method in which a mixture of water, sand and nasty chemistry is injected, under high pressure, into a well to crack (or fracture) the rock below. When the rock is cracked, gas is released from the darkness and ascends to the surface above.

Luna has her own version of fracking. Give her more than 15 minutes under the covers and she’s able to silently produce a sizable quantity of her own odoriferous gas. Not unlike pre-fracked gas, it remains beneath the covers in the dark waiting to be released into the atmosphere above. Should we raise or shift the duvet, we’re met with the visual peace of our resting puppy and some olfactory nastiness produced somewhere inside her GI tract.

This describes every morning for us. A lovely warm space heater for the bed that just happens to give off something almost as deadly as carbon monoxide. It’s the price we pay for enjoying a toasty warm bed in the chill of the early morning.

Oh, and the answer to the question above? As long as Luna is regularly fed, rested and exercised, she’s a happy camper/puppy. Flatulence, apparently, doesn’t affect her humor one way or the other. It just affects her family in a silent but deadly manner.

Great Dane puppy in bed

with a little flatulence: luna relaxes in our bed after disturbing a weekend morning

giving thanks for dogs on thanksgiving

24 November 2011
Thanksgiving dog and turkey dinner

od gives luna a bit of lovin’ at the thanksgiving table as the turkey awaits round two

American Thanksgiving: a Day for Dogs?

In order of importance, the four-day American Thanksgiving Weekend is about shopping for bargains on flat panel TVs and video game consoles, college football, and turkey. Dogs (even Great Danes) don’t really figure anywhere in the list.

With Thanksgiving Day being one of the few officially observed holidays in the United States, the dog park was packed. The walking paths were busy. People with 9-5 jobs who you don’t normally see in the morning were there in the morning. Luna ran and ran, played with her friends, gave thanks for grass to run through and puddles to jump in. (Her friends probably gave thanks that they have a gentle Great Dane puppy to play with).

When we returned home and were later sitting at the table eating overcooked turkey and the best gravy that MW has ever made (an unexpected contrast), I started thinking about Thanksgiving through the lens of dog ownership. Last Thanksgiving, we were not dog owners. This year, we are. Do we therefore have anything to be thankful for?

1. Finding a Good Breeder

This would be B2. Finding her tops our thankfulness list.

We live in the Northern California wine country where success begins with preparing the ground, and choosing the right rootstock. (For those not familiar with the wine industry, rootstock is the woody stump that you plant in the ground to which you graft the vines that produce the grapes).

Selecting a dog breeder is like selecting the correct rootstock. A good choice greatly increases the chances that the experience, either grape harvest or pet ownership, will be successful and pleasant.

If every service provider in your life is as honest, resourceful, responsive, and caring about what they sell as B2, then you’re extremely fortunate. “World is a better place” kind of sentiment. That’s not hyperbole; we were incredibly fortunate to chance upon her. I’ve just been amazed with her. Whether it was the care in breeding, her pre-sale friendliness, or after-sale responsiveness, she has been exemplary.

The biggest validation is the fact that so many of her former customers return to select another Great Dane puppy when their older one is nearing the end and preparing to move on to Dog Valhalla.

2. Getting a Dog that Hasn’t Destroyed Anything in the House

Comedy is much harder to write when the puppy you get doesn’t destroy stuff in your life with YouTube-worthy abandon. Think Marley and Me. You remember that book? Or the movie? The formal title of the book is actually Marley and Me: Life and Love with the World’s Worst Dog.

A dog animatedly chewing its way through a down-filled sofa is easily worthy of 300,000 YouTube views. A dog that chews table legs or eats popcorn from a bag is simply comedy gold. That’s not Luna; she has turned out to be a really sweet-natured pet, very distant from any “worst” categorization. She’s not moody, aggressive, or destructive. Sure, she steals food from LC’s bowl whenever she can slink upstairs undetected by us, but her mischief so far has been misdemeanor rather than felony-worthy.

Dogs playing and telling jokes to each other

our neighbor zoe cracks up after luna tells her a joke that starts with “an irish wolfhound and italian greyhound walk into a bar…."

3. The Neighbors’ Dogs

I didn’t really pay any close attention to the neighbor’s pets until Luna arrived. I said “hello” to them when we passed in the street but never spent any quality time with either Fergie (English Bulldog) or Zoe (Bernese Mountain Dog). Luna’s arrival in January began my relationship with Zoe and Fergie. They’re good dogs and pleasant companions for Luna. They play fair with her. They don’t poop on our lawn. Having quality friends for your puppy is similar to wishing that your son or daughter finds a good circle of friends at school to hang out with. Helps to ensure that the mischief that your puppy or daughter (OD, in our case) gets up to will be fairly benign.

4. Luna’s Good Health

This is relative. Puppies require all sorts of attention that costs money. Mostly, it comes from a woman in a white lab coat or surgical smock. (For some reason, our local vet clinic is almost entirely staffed by women). You’ve got all of those first-year checkups, vaccinations, nail clippings, etc. It all adds up, and is just part of the TCO (total cost of ownership). Can’t avoid it. What can really hurt, though, is the left-field surprises. That would be the lump that you unexpectedly discover on a front paw. (This just happened to Zoe and required a not-inexpensive vet visit for surgery). Other than a couple of stings during the summer and the revelation that she’s very allergic, she’s been very healthy. The financial hit could have been worse, but Luna hasn’t required any other unforeseen surgeries or mental health counseling.

5. Something to Keep the Bed Warm

Lying down, Luna is easily four-feet long. Her fur is less than ¾ inch long. She radiates lots of heat outward. This is a good thing because it is now November. Winter is almost here. When she jumps on the bed to disappear beneath the duvet, it’s as good as having a large hot water bottle, albeit, one that’s a lot more flatulent.

We’re not thankful for the flatulence but it comes with our dog. It’s a small price to pay for our Great Dane puppy.

happy first birthday to our great dane puppy

17 November 2011

Our Great Dane puppy and accounts-payable-on-four-legs Luna turns one today.

3-week old Great Dane puppy

Luna - three weeks old and growing

We’re not sure at what time she entered the world, or in what order (in her litter of five). But she duly arrived in the world last November, weighing about as much as a Cornish hen. She then arrived at our house eight weeks later. To interrupt our sleep, deplete our bank account, wreck our lawn, terrorize LC and alter our life from an orbit around OD to slavish focus on a puppy.

MW thinks we’re better off for it.  OD would second the motion. Me? I could live without the pockmarked lawn. I could live without finding Luna leftovers deposited on our brick patio when I go to the garage to get my bike out in the early morning for a ride. I could easily and very happily live without the monthly drain on the checking account. I’d find it much harder to live without the floppy ears, a black jujube nose that glistens during the afternoon sun, and a pair of eyes that will always remain faithful.

Here is Luna 52 weeks after she entered the world.

luna on her first birthday, Nov. 17, 2011 - 33 inches and 94 lbs